Donald Trump didn’t just stomp on democracy Friday by using the power of the veto to suppress a proposed bipartisan resolution to keep him from declaring a national emergency by decree, he took a crap on it.
The irony here is that Trump was first to tell everyone his so-called emergency was more about expediency that a threat to our nation.
Led by milquetoast Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, his caucus of newts abandoned their oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic to preen at the feet of an unhinged president.
On Thursday, a dozen Republicans joined with Senate Democrats in a show that some Republicans have finally seen the light. The binding resolution they produced says Trump can’t declare a border emergency and use unappropriated funds to build a wall because there is no emergency. Trump on Friday said, “Oh yeah?” and vetoed it.
So it goes. It is not a constitutional crisis, in fact not a crisis at all. It is simply part of the ugly discourse between a bughouse president and a Congress struggling with what to do about a madman.
Republicans apparently think it is better to have their madman in power than trust the fates to find someone else to play spank the monkey as long as everybody gets what they want. Sounds like they all should be on Pornhub together with Trump’s former girlfriend, Stormy Daniels, showing them the best way to pleasure a pig.
The Founding Fathers installed the power of presidential veto into the Constitution in Article I, Section 7. The article says the president may block a measure from becoming law by returning it to Congress unsigned within ten days of its passage (a “regular” veto) or by simply not signing a bill after Congress has adjourned (a “pocket” veto). A regular veto can be overridden, but only if both chambers muster a two-thirds majority. Just 7 percent of the 2,572 vetoes issued since George Washington have been overridden, according to the Library of Congress.
In 1792, George Washington exercised presidential veto power for the first time, one of two he issued. He vetoed a bill outlining a new apportionment formula submitted by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. It wasn’t very sexy by today’s standards.
The United States didn’t hear of a presidential veto being overridden until 1845 when Congress overrode President John Tyler’s veto of a bill prohibiting the president from authorizing the building of Coast Guard ships without approved appropriations from Congress.
Too bad there isn’t enough impetus to get it stopped before Trump spends $8.6 billion in unappropriated money for his specious wall.
The offbeat airwaves on Friday were filled with shrill warnings, dire predictions and presumptions of secret coup d’états by Trump and his scandalous minions and/or by evil Democrats trying to do him in. Perhaps a brief look at the history of the veto will strip away some of the terrible onus his veto decision produced by putting it in the light of history.
Veto means “I forbid.” Trump’s veto was a check on the legislative actions of Congress that has been used by all American presidents. Trump is a veto cream puff compared to some of his predecessors.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president (1933–45), expanded the powers of the executive branch through his unbridled use of veto power, issuing vetoes 635 times (372 regular, 263 pocket; 9 overridden). FDR became the first president to personally read a veto message aloud to a joint session of Congress, a precursor to Trump’s televised veto-signing extravaganza Friday from the White House.
Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford attempted to circumvent the veto process by using the pocket veto during brief adjournments between congressional sessions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. shot them down. It ruled that the president could not use the pocket veto during short congressional recesses so long as Congress appointed an officer to receive a veto message during such a recess.
In 1971, Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Care Development Act that would have provided money for building a system of universal, federally financed day care. In 1974, Ford vetoed the Freedom of Information Act over national security concerns. Congress overrode his veto, making thousands of previously classified records public.
There is a powerful lesson there and one Trump and his minions should heed. The unanimous congressional resolution to make the Mueller investigation public was a shot across the bow of Trump’s slowing sinking ship of fools.
Reagan got his hand slapped by Congress in 1988 when he vetoed a bill imposing sanctions on South Africa’s pro-apartheid government. Congress overrode the veto and passed the sanctions anyway.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama exercised a relatively few 12 vetoes each. Congress overrode only one of Obama’s vetoes, the 2012 veto of a bill allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia: Congress overrode Obama’s veto on Dec, 17, 2017, making the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) law. It allows victims of terrorism or their families to sue foreign governments sponsoring or harboring terrorists they blame for acts of terrorism since 9/11.
When America has had enough of Trump, the Republicans will bow to public pressure, Mitch McConnell be damned. Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” He hasn’t been proved wrong yet.