Home 2016 elections When You’re a Star, You Can Do Anything

When You’re a Star, You Can Do Anything


This piece will be running in newspapers in my very red district (VA-06).


We should have known what we were getting when we heard Trump declare, on the Hollywood Access video: “When you’re a star, you can do anything.”

It is now clear that this captured more than just what he was boasting he could get away with doing to women. It’s his attitude across the board: Because he’s such a big shot, the usual rules don’t apply to him.

  • The rules tell a president: when going to your presidential briefings, don’t take someone in the pay of a foreign power, and certainly don’t make such a foreign agent your National Security Advisor. But that’s what Trump did with Michael Flynn, was who being paid to serve Turkish interests. Warned by the Department of Justice about Flynn’s troubling connections with the Turkish and Russian regimes, Trump did nothing—until some of these problems were publicly exposed.
  • The rules say that a president should arrange his finances so that, in his dealings with other nations, no personal interests of his could even potentially divert him from serving the interests of the American people. But Trump blithely refused to disclose or divest his worldwide financial interests, and no sooner was he elected than — in his dealings with Argentina, China, the U.K. Turkey, and other nations – numerous instances of the appearance of corruption emerged.

When you’re as big a deal as Trump, he apparently thinks, you can do anything.

  • Although politicians often promise more than they can achieve, they try, as a rule, to provide a reasonable correlation between what they promise their supporters and what they attempt to deliver. Trump’s conduct on the health care issue represents a startling departure from that norm: after assuring his supporters everyone would have coverage that was better and cheaper than now, as president he gave his enthusiastic endorsement to legislation that would have stripped 24 million Americans of health care coverage altogether. The measure would have been injurious to many of the older, white, rural Americans who thought he’d be their champion.
  • The rule has been that a president-elect will not meddle in American foreign relations before he is inaugurated, but will respect the well-established norm that says, “We have one president at a time.” But Trump violated that custom, making himself a player in our foreign affairs in multiple ways when he was president elect—with his primary foreign policy advisor contacting the Russians to undercut the policy of sanctions against Putin’s regime being advanced by the man who was still president.
  • The rule has been that the President, or the President-Elect, routinely draws upon the expertise of foreign policy professionals as he deals with the leaders of other nations. But Trump, who has boasted about his “great brain” and that he knows “more than the generals,” saw no need to be guided by experts. Ignoring that rule, Trump (apparently inadvertently) violated one of the foundational agreements of the U.S.-China relationship, eventually being compelled to undo a mistake he need never have made.
  • The rule has been that the president treats his credibility with the American people as an essential asset, knowing that any presidential lying will corrode the trust on which so leadership and the security of the nation so often depends. But Trump has propagated falsehoods at a prodigious rate – well over 100 false statements, by one count, just in his first month in office. Such has been his carelessness with the truth that, despite a president’s having better access to good information than anyone else on earth, Trump turned instead to the most unreliable sources and disturbed the peace of the nation by launching a baseless accusation against his predecessor. He seems indifferent to the fact that 60% of Americans regard him as dishonest—so long as his most fervent supporters continue to back him and show up for his rallies events to express their enthusiastic support.

Memorably, Trump himself sized up the mentality of his supporters, during the campaign, saying: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I would not lose any voters.”

The evidence suggests he was right. Even after all the mounting evidence of Trump’s having betrayed our country with the Russians, and even after what presidential historian Douglas Brinkley has called the “most failed” beginning of a presidency in American history, a mere 3% of those who voted for Trump regret it.

With them, it seems, he is such a star that he really can do anything.



  • RobertColgan

    I agree with the author. Times are desperate, growing more so daily.

    Narcissists play ONLY by their own rules….unless reined in by rules enacted to prevent despotic egoism from spoiling the stew for everyone else.
    We have such rules. The emoluments clause exists.
    The 1st Amendment and the other amendments exist.

    They are safeguards against predation by government officials on the State itself, and on the citizenry.

    But the Constitutional and legal playing field is being torn up and the chalked lines shifted so erratically/frequently that standard attempts to complain to the refs no longer apply. The team making up the rules as they please and claiming theirs are the only rules by which to play the game cannot lose.

    The chaotic and arrogant executive dance (extension of Trump’s cerebration) maintains the instability.. . .like shifting deck chairs on a listing cruise liner, it’s as much a matter of dodging for self preservation and sanity as it is to insist on their being put back where they were, where they belong for everyone’s best welfare.

    What we currently have is a true Constitutional crisis of major proportion—— the three branches of the stool of government no longer counterbalancing effectively, no longer keeping the stool legs the same length…..threatening collapse——-especially when outside forces ( such as an international dispute) apply additional pressure to that already compromised perch.

    Were it only Trump, it would be imbalanced enough. . . but Pence and the perfect-pictures-of-Peter-Principle-imperfection Cabinet members and appointees offer little in the way of refuge or restoration of sanity.
    Most are climate science deniers. Most are invested in enriching the corporations and Wall St investment houses and banks from which they issue. Most have vestigial remnants of social consciences. Most are adherents of authoritarianism. Most regard themselves as above the legal sanctions designed to protect us from such people. Most see their own interests as primary, all others secondary.
    What we are seeing is a cabal in DC out to tilt the field, like the gerrymandered districting that guarantees incumbency, so far to one side there is no other side.
    Disquieting, to say the least.

    • Very well said – and very disquieting, you are 100% right!