Monday, May 06, 2019


The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty thinks we're being fished in by presidential trolling:
... Trump has become highly effective at fomenting preposterous scenarios that send his opposition into a conspiratorial frenzy.

The latest example came over the weekend, when Trump retweeted an obvious, if lame, joke by one of his most devoted sycophants.

“After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump - no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring,” Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, wrote. “I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”

... Trump himself continued the trolling with a tweet that read: “they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back.”

Traditional and social media took the bait, as Trump surely knew they would.

... Trump has sent liberals into a panic over something that is not only a fantasy — there is no mechanism to add two years to a president’s term beyond a constitutional amendment — but a pointless distraction given that the election is still 18 months away....

So I’d like to suggest trying something radical the next time Trump tweets something ridiculous: Ignore it. Don’t swing at everything he pitches over the plate.
This may be trolling, but I don't think it's just trolling. Remember, Trump is a lifelong resident of New York City -- a place where the two mayors who preceded the current mayor both sought to sidestep the law and have their terms extended. One succeeded.

Rudy Giuliani was in the last months of his second term as mayor when 9/11 happened. His response to the attacks was unifying and gracious -- a sharp contrast to the rest of his mayoralty. There were calls for his term to be extended -- and Giuliani, whose graciousness had given way to a more characteristic egomania, embraced the idea.

A New York Times article published on October 2, 2001, picks up the story:
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's chances of staying in office past Dec. 31 dimmed markedly today. State lawmakers declared the idea of extending his term by 90 days all but dead, and some in the mayor's camp said he would not try to run for a third term.

Mr. Giuliani said last week that if the three major candidates for mayor did not agree to a three-month extension of his term, he might run again in November on the Conservative Party line -- an idea that defied the city's term limits law....
The law was against him -- and yet many of the interested parties, including the Democrat who would win the party's nomination to succeed Giuliani, were in favor of his end run around the law, at least in the case of a 90-day extension:
The Republican nominee [for mayor], Michael R. Bloomberg, acceded to the three-month extension. Of the two Democrats in the primary runoff, Mark Green [the eventual nominee] agreed and Fernando Ferrer refused.

Extending the mayor's term would require action by the Legislature and the governor. Such a bill would clearly pass in the Republican-controlled Senate -- though the majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, is said by his allies to be uncomfortable with the idea -- and Gov. George E. Pataki has said he would sign it.

Today, the Assembly's ruling Democrats all but ruled out an extension....
Bloomberg won the election in November, and he took the oath of office at the appointed time. But eight years later, he sought to evade the city's term limits -- and he succeeded, using the excuse of the financial crisis:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg won the right to seek re-election as New York’s City Council voted on Thursday to extend the two-term limit for elected officials as the city grapples with the global financial crisis.

Bloomberg, a former Wall Street trader and self-made billionaire who was elected in 2001 and in 2005, wants to run again on grounds that his financial experience will be valuable in guiding the city through lean fiscal times ahead.

The 51-member council voted 29-22 to approve the measure. About two-thirds of the council would have been forced out of office under the two-term limit, but they can now run for a third term in the November 2009 election.
So why wouldn't Trump believe that presidential terms are subject to change? (And if he appoints enough judges, who's to say they aren't?)

As Chris Cillizza notes, Trump sure talks about this a lot:
... it's worth noting that Trump has repeatedly "joked" about changing the Constitution to allow him to serve more than two terms as president.

Last month, in accepting a gift from the Wounded Warrior Project, Trump "joked":

"Well, this is really beautiful. This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that OK? I was going to joke, General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we'll say six."

In a closed-door speech to Republican donors last year in Florida, Trump said this of Chinese President Xi Jinping: "He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."

And then there was this "joke" from Trump in a speech to Members of Congress touting his tax law in 2018:

"We're cutting record numbers of regulations — we've cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration whether it's four years, eight years, or in one case 16 years," Trump said. "Should we go back to 16 years? Should we do that? Congressman can we do that?"
Trolling? Maybe -- but not just trolling. Trump really would like to be president for life, by acclamation.

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