Donald Trump acts like he’s conducting a massive, real life, obedience-to-authority experiment with respect to lying, corruption, bullying, indecency, cruelty and unbridled presidential power.
The experiment tests how much he can get away with. Many subservient appointees, sophisticated enablers (think Sen. Mitch McConnell), sycophantic quacks (think Rudy Giuliani), rogue commentators (think Sean Hannity), rulebound bureaucrats and millions of his followers are supporting, or submitting to, his abuse of power. And the end result is in doubt.
Considerable respect for authority is necessary for a well-functioning society; but the means to stop abuse of authority are just as necessary. That’s why we have a free press, elections, constitutionally guaranteed protections, checks and balances in government, and a need for whistleblowers.
There’s a mountain of evidence about all this. But I’ll just mention a whistle blowing case and a rulebound bureaucratic response.
Former FBI director James Comey — with direct, conclusive evidence of obstruction of justice — patriotically blew the whistle leading to appointment of a special counsel and, eventually, the Mueller Report — establishing a clear rationale for impeachment and removal from office of Donald Trump.
The recent Inspector General’s Report on Comey completely ignored all that. It determined that he broke no laws; but it severely castigated him for violating FBI rules. Specifically, he kept a copy of some of his memos about Trump in a private safe at home, and he made possible a memo leak to The New York Times.
In other words, from a rulebound bureaucrat’s standpoint, it would be better for oversight officials and the public not to know about Trump’s abusing his authority rather than to break a rule. Trump thrives on that attitude.