Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Jerk May Have the Law on His Side

Jeb Bush is right. Hard to believe I find myself agreeing with the wannabe president, but there I was, reading a New York Times article under the headline, “Still Assailing Donald Trump, Jeb Bush Calls Him ‘a Jerk’.

“Donald Trump is a jerk,” Mr. Bush said to applause (The Times reported from a New Hampshire town-hall-style event).

“You cannot insult your way to the presidency,” he said. “You can’t disparage women, Hispanics, disabled people. Who is he kidding? This country is far better than that. The idea that he’s actually running for president and insulting people is deeply discouraging, to be honest with you, and I think we should reject that out of hand. I hope you’ll reject it by voting for me, but a guy like that should not be the front-running candidate of our great party.”

Jeb is right. But his problem is that the GOP has morphed into a party of “no,” of “you-can’t-have-any-or-come-here-if-you-are-different,” a party of distrust, of bait-and-switch that promises benefits to middle- and working-class people but delivers benefits just to the elite. It’s become a party of exclusion, not inclusion. A party of dogma one dares not dissent from, a party of religious extremism, a party whose foreign policy is founded on the principle of “my way or bombs away,” a party repulsed by scientific discovery, a party more comfortable with the values of the Dark Ages than of the Enlightenment.

For the moment let’s not talk about the Republican Party as a whole but rather the Trump phenomenon. His appeal has confounded “experts” within and without the GOP. It might be instructive to view this clip by Jordan Klepper from a recent Daily Show with Trevor Noah. It’s an enlightening, if not frightening, piece on why everyday, normal-looking people are supporting Trump:

Also consider the consternation arch conservatives are feeling about the current Republican front-runner. Here’s part of a commentary from Charles C. W. Cooke, a staff writer at National Review:

“… if the current Republican front-runner is any indication of things to come, large swathes of the party have already abandoned their talk of ‘constitutional conservatism’ and ‘limited government’ and embraced a flat-out authoritarianism, at least as preached by ‘The Donald.’ Whatever else he might be, the idea of Trump as a paladin of civil liberties should make one howl with terrible laughter. Since he announced his candidacy, Trump has threatened to ignore those who are carping about free speech and shut down parts of the Internet; he has promised to summarily deport those who are suspected of being illegal immigrants, without due process of law; he has endorsed extensive campaign-finance regulations that fly directly in the face of the First Amendment; he has vowed to restrict the Second Amendment rights of those on the terror watch list, again without due process; he has praised Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens, suggested that natural-born Americans can be deported against their will, and proposed that American Muslims be barred from reentering the country; he has described as ‘wonderful’ a Supreme Court ruling that obliterated the ‘public use’ limitations on the invocation of eminent domain; and he has refused to rule out registering Americans on the basis of their faith. Worse still, he has responded to the criticism that these positions have generated by channeling his inner Nancy Pelosi: ‘Are you serious?’

“And yet, despite all of these transgressions, 30 percent of GOP-primary voters still list him as their top pick. This is an unmitigated disgrace.” (

Okay, so the left and right are against Trump, particularly his anti-Mexican and anti-Islam “throw them out” or “bar them from entering” stances. But what if Trump is not constitutionally blind? What if his rants are within legal, if not ethical, bounds?

Consider, if you will, the following from the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1952 US Code 8, Section 1182, Sub-Section F:

(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. 

I’m no constitutional scholar, but it appears The Donald’s plan to restrict immigration could be within the law as long as he doesn’t define class by religion. Country of origin might be a way to define the class of alien he wants to keep out. 

That being said, Jeb is still right. Trump’s a jerk.