There’s a certain intellectual thrill of discovery that comes when an underlying pattern emerges from the murk of our reality.
For example, a person has a character that expresses a similar spirit across a diverse range of situations. Each situation may appear different, but the underlying structure can sometimes be discerned among the diversity of instances.
Take Trump. (Please!)
There seems to be visible in Donald Trump a remarkable and a remarkably dangerous spirit expressing itself similarly in two very different contexts.
First, there’s what he revealed about himself when he bragged on that Hollywood Access bus about how, because he is a star, women let him grab them by the p**sy.
The second context involves what has happened between Trump and Comey.
With the women, he obviously put his hands where the rules of decency say that a man should be “hands off.” He boasts of grabbing women with callous disregard for a basic value any man is supposed to respect: a woman’s right to control sexual access to her body.
The rule for a president is “hands off” also when it comes to the FBI and its investigations – especially if the investigation involves the president.
Yet the Comey affair – not only the firing, but also the requests for reassurance about the investigation, and even more so the reported demand for personal loyalty – reveals Trump likewise showing a callous disregard for a basic value that he, as president, is required to respect: the independence of the FBI.
The independence of the FBI is not a small thing, because it is a vital structural element in our constitutional order. It is part of what has been institutionalized to realize the most basic constitutional values of the American system: “the rule of law”; the idea that “we are a nation of laws and not of men.”
The common structural element reveals: Trump is doing to our constitutional order what he did those women.
It is a part of his character to disrespect any of the proper boundaries that a decent man would allow to constrain his appetites – whether for sexual dominance or for the political power to rule.
He grabs what he wants.
What could be more dangerous in a president than such a trait ingrained deep in his character?
He has contempt for the rule of law. Let us use the law now to rid ourselves of this menace.