Plausible deniability is a crucial component of any ongoing violation of laws or norms. If you’re going to intentionally engage in nefarious deeds, you have to have your story straight for when the eventual scrutiny (such as, let’s say, impeachment) comes.
That which you are straightening is indeed a “story” because
it is, by definition, not a true reckoning of whatever
drug deal you’re up to. It is at best a quasi-believable
version of events that counts on the listener giving you the benefit of the
doubt. At worst, it’s a thinly veiled lie.
Here’s a quick list of things Donald Trump can do because, according to Rudy Giuliani’s legal ramblings, they aren’t expressly forbidden by the Constitution.
- He can eat Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and Big Mac’s with absolute impunity. The Constitution does not mention fast food, nor the President’s physical fitness, nor his status as a role model for the nation.
- He can cheat on his first wife with his second wife, cheat on her with yet another wife, cheat on that wife with a porn star, and cheat on the porn star with a Playboy model. The Constitution does not mention the President’s marital fidelity, nor does it make any reference to pornography.
- He can sacrifice a goat to the Devil in the middle of a pentagram on the South Lawn of the White House. The Constitution is remarkably silent on Satanic rituals.
- He can climb to the top of the Washington Monument and piss on the assembled masses below. The Constitution does not expressly prohibit watersports, though it is worth noting that the President’s physical fitness and aging prostate might prove to quash such activities.[i]
- He can ride a coked-up Bengal tiger through the halls of the White House. The Constitution never once mentions Bengal tigers.
- He can appoint completely unqualified hacks to every position under Article II, so long as he gains the “advice and consent” of the Senate. Given the Senate’s composition and recent record, it appears that there is no Constitutional prohibition, express nor implied, on having a Cabinet chock full o’ nincompoops. Nincompoopery = 100% constitutional.
- The President can lie, constantly, about matters large and small. The Constitution does not expressly forbid the President from lying. While the previous occupants lied occasionally, they significantly underutilized their apparent constitutional power to trade in outright deception.
- Donald can make money by selling hats and t-shirts with his mottos and image. The Constitution prohibits receiving emoluments from foreign governments, but there’s nothing in that document from 1789 that says he can’t dropship some custom-printed tees on a poorly managed website. As Alexander Hamilton once said, “get thine sales funnel primed, bro.”
- He can select himself to be an astronaut. The Constitution is strangely silent on matters of space travel.
- Trump can trick Mike Pence by promising to hold the football while the Veep kicks it, only to pull it away at the last second. Mr. Pence’s momentum will cause him to fall flat on his back, but he’ll never learn. And the President is completely safe, as the Framers never made a single mention of Peanuts, Charlie Brown, nor Lucy. It’s safe to assume the lack of prohibition on the old cartoon prank was fully intentional.
- The President can wear a Qaddafi/Stalin/Mussolini/Idi Amin style military uniform. As the Commander-in-Chief, it’s assumed that the President is a civilian representative of the populace who, in turn, exercises authority over the people’s military. But that’s an assumption. The Constitution never once says that the President can’t play dress-up and strut around like the very model of a modern major general.
- He can play golf every single weekend, come hell or high water. Presidents before Trump, and Trump before President Trump, felt that the job of President of the United States was simply too demanding to afford much time on the links. But there’s not a single line in the entire Constitution telling us exactly how much golf is too much golf. We’re left to assume that nonstop golf would be possible, legal, and acceptable in the eyes of the Framers.
Literally every right we have comes with limits.
We have the right to free speech, yet I can’t libel people. I can’t (legally) threaten people with bodily harm. I can most definitely use inflammatory rhetoric, but I can’t use it to incite violence without facing criminal charges. I can’t yell obscenities outside at 3 am, apparently. I have first-hand knowledge about that last one, courtesy of the Houston Police Department and some pissed-off neighbors circa 2000. Continue reading
Last night, I watched “The Words That Built America” on HBO. It’s a documentary that features politicians and celebrities reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The cameras are zoomed in tight, each reader taking up most of the frame. One by one, they read their assigned sentence or two.
All five living former presidents and President Trump each took a turn. Hillary Clinton reads a section. Supreme Court Justices, the Speaker of the House, Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, United States Senators and state governors each got a few seconds. Continue reading