As a younger man, when I’d see those pictures of past presidents in that contemplative silhouette at the window in the Oval Office, I’d think that poor guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Of course that was its intended message and at a time when I thought you had to be of a certain intelligence, courage and decency to become President of the United States.
Think about it. In the last couple days when Trump woke up (if he ever went to sleep), this president might have had on his mind any number of weighty matters. He likes numbers and ratings. So how about the fact that at 100,000 dead, our country is experiencing 28% of the global pandemic death, while representing only 4% of the worlds population. Or that forty million Americans have filed for unemployment. What of the end of any semblance of independence for Hong Kong? Any consideration of the brutal death of George Floyd, a black man, who died at the hands (& knee) of the Minneapolis police.
Nope. None of that. This president was busy attacking a television host, a former congressman (R-Fla) who dares to criticize him. He was using Twitter to suggest Joe Scarborough was a murderer of a young woman, a staffer in his office named Lori Klausutis, who died 20 years ago, when she tragically fell and hit her head due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
This was a totally unfounded slanderous hurtful act. It has zero basis in fact. The widow of the young woman wrote Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, begging him to take down the presidents nonsense. The answer was no. Twitter and Trump are co-dependent and our country is their victim.
When we were silly kids and ran into equally silly kids in the neighborhood, we’d sometimes play a game that was meant to pick a fight. We’d place a stick on our shoulder and dare the rival to knock it off. If they did so, we then had some justification to orchestrate a fight. Luckily I grew up and out leaving that childish behavior behind. Trump, however, is a 73-year-old version of that. He lives to pick a fight and is only engaged and happy when he is doing so. He literally has no other purpose or goal in life except chaos and conflict.
The destructive behavior never fails to escalate and distract. The Divider-in- Chief has managed to turn the simple pandemic health safety task of wearing a mask in public into a political equation. And now, over 18,000 confirmed lies later, he has picked a fight with Twitter, his partner-in-crime.
This brings us to The Communication Decency Act of 1996 which regulated many aspects of internet life. In its Section 230, it originally attempted to put a lid on free speech, but that aspect was struck down by the Supreme Court. What remains provides social media platforms with some cover from any responsibility for what participants write or say, including the unfortunate constant use of it by the president. It says in part; “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”. This is why Dorsey said no to the heartfelt request to take Trumps spew down.
So in the pursuit of escalation, because Twitter dared to fact-check Trumps subsequent tweets claiming vote-by-mail was beset with fraud, for which there is also no factual basis, the president flicked the proverbial stick off of Twitter’s shoulder (interesting that they chose to ‘fact-check’ those tweets but not the Scarborough slander, or the thousands of presidential lies that preceded either).
The resulting fight manifested today. With his Department of Justice co-conspirator (& acting personal lawyer) Bill Barr at his shoulder, Trump announced an Executive Order meant to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from any liability for what people write on their platforms.
If only Trump understood irony. From the book of careful what you wish for it would seem to the logical mind that the last thing this Twitter-in-Chief would want is for social media to be held responsible for what he says on a daily basis. While he falsely contends that any fact-check of his diatribe is somehow restricting his political speech, he misses the former salient point.
It is all political theatre end of the day. An executive order is nothing more (or less) than a written instruction presidents use to work their will through the executive branch of government. In this case Trump would appear to be instructing the FCC, which reports to Congress, not the White House. Digging deeper it is likely illegal in and of itself if it attempts to restrict the free speech of the platforms themselves.
Before signing the document Trump said, “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers.” Seems to me he stopped short by one additional word. That would be “Me”. Here we are again with Trump exploiting power he doesn’t possess aimed at solving something that doesn’t exist.
Once again, I am left wondering how good decent people in places such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and other purple states, who may have reluctantly voted for Donald Trump in 2016 now view him? I am hopeful that regardless of their party affiliation they too can’t wait to cast a vote for a decent man in November.
As an aside a prominent Yale law school professor opined that President Trump could be subject to effective civil lawsuits over his comments regarding Joe Scarborough and Lori Klausutis.
Gives me hope. I never picture Trump at that window in the oval office. I mostly imagine him in a matching orange jumpsuit behind bars, but that’s just me, because I pay too much attention to what he has done, and continues to do, on a daily basis.
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