Jonah Goldberg, among National Review’s top #nevertrumpers, spoke at the Cato Institute’s always well-attended, enlightening annual event in Naples, Florida. Mr. Goldberg was preceded by keynote speaker Jonathan Turley, lawyer, legal scholar and professor of law at George Washington University Law School.
Mr. Turley explained to the audience why he, while very critical of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, was toasting the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. In an article in USA Today, he wrote, Trump “is by any measure our duly elected” president.
While Bill Clinton insisted that his wife lost because Trump figured out “how to get angry, white men to vote for him,” the fact is that it was the Democratic leadership that secured the election for Trump. Despite long-standing polls showing that voters did not want an establishment figure, the establishment pre-selected Clinton, who is not only one of the most recognized establishment figures but someone carrying more luggage than Greyhound. She is also someone who had even higher negative polling on character and truthfulness than Trump. And as Jonah Goldberg noted, a very low bar for sure.
The point is not to belittle the basis or numbers of opponents to Trump. Yet, there is an effort to establish a mythology that Trump was elected by white men and heavily opposed by women. Worse yet, there is an effort to portray him as some presidential pretender to the office. In reality, it is Democratic leaders who have abandoned tradition and denigrated our democracy by refusing to stand with the new president at his inauguration.
As an example, Professor Turley wrote about Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., who evidently carried out her promise to not attend the inauguration because she did not want to “contribute to the normalization of the president-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the inauguration.”
But as Turley asserts, “normalization” is the democratic process. “We are celebrating not a particular victor but the fact that there was a victor — a democratically elected victor followed by a peaceful transition of power.”
Jonah Goldberg’s luncheon address was as libertarian-oriented and entertaining as Jonathan Turley’s. His encouraging lesson was to embrace the good things about President Trump and be critical should Trump follow the path of what Jonah calls Obama’s “clay footsteps.” We are a nation of laws, and regardless of how unhappy any of us might be with the elected president, that person, like Barack Obama and each president before him, is not going to be in office forever. When President Obama ruled by executive order, a.k.a. “his pen,” as he famously gloated, he failed to undertake the arduous process of getting Congress behind him. In so doing, any of his EOs can be axed by the next newly elected president. By not undertaking the painfully hard process of getting Congress to pass a law, the next president can hack away at every EO.
Our Founders based the Constitution on three branches, each to have equal weighting in order to keep one another in check. Executive orders weaken the presidency by skewing the leverage of the three branches. EOs give the office of the president more temporary power but weaken our Constitution.
Peter Goettler, Cato’s enthusiastic new president, hosted the Naples Cato event with aplomb and humor. The Ritz Naples, along with Cato’s competent staff, does a superb job on service, food and valet parking (no joke). If you’ve not been to a Cato event or to Naples, consider this a must.