- - Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Donald Trump talks in very simplistic, egocentric, combative terms about how he will govern if he wins the presidency, but he never mentions Congress.

Go through all of the boastful promises that he’s made at his rallies and the debates, which he says are “a waste of time,” seemingly suggesting that he will do these things alone: Slash the budget, cut taxes, beef up the military, erect a 2,000-mile concrete wall along our Southwestern border with Mexico costing tens of billions of dollars, and create a nationwide police force to round up and deport 11 million undocumented Hispanic migrants.

“We’re going to make many cuts . We’re going to get rid of so many things.” When he says “we,” he means “I.”

Apparently, Mr. Trump skipped Government 101, the classes dealing with the three, co-equal branches of government that were set forth by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution.

The last time I looked, Congress controlled the purse strings of the government. No revenue can be spent, reduced or rescinded without the written approval of a majority of 535 members of Congress.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for not just cutting but getting rid of wasteful, outmoded, inefficient agencies. I’ve written books detailing where we can do that, saving more than $200 billion — including “Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes,” which President Reagan passed out at his very first Cabinet meeting. His budget director used the book to eliminate waste or cut it back, with some success.

But getting a majority of Congress isn’t easy and would likely be harder, if not almost impossible, for someone with Mr. Trump’s insulting temperament.

Republicans control both houses of Congress, and will likely hold on to them in November, but Mr. Trump is obviously not popular among GOP lawmakers. In fact he’s downright unpopular, even among rank-and-file conservatives.

At this point in his campaign, you could fit the number of GOP lawmakers who’ve endorsed him in a telephone booth.

There are a lot of things Mr. Trump is proposing to do that are deeply disturbing and should frighten Americans who believe in the First Amendment in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the one in which our Founding Fathers declared that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press .”

Mr. Trump is well known as a litigious bully who threatens critics with legal action simply for criticizing him, which is their right under the Constitution. Over the course of his campaign he has angrily hurled threats of a “big lawsuit” when someone say or writes something that displeases him.

Last Friday, during rambling remarks at a campaign appearance in Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Trump said, “One of the things I’m going to do if I win, I’m going to open up our libel law so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles we can sue them and win lots of money,” he said, according to a dispatch by the Reuters News Service.

Mr. Trump specifically singled out The New York Times and The Washington Post as his main targets, adding, “With me they’re not protected. We’re going to have people sue like you’ve never been sued before.”

That is meant “to intimidate and punish” his many critics that come after him, writes columnist George Will.

“It is not news that he has neither respect for nor knowledge of the Constitution . His obvious aim is to chill free speech, for the comfort of the political class,” Mr. Will says.

Mr. Trump’s anti-free speech threats remind historians of the Alien and Sedition Act passed by Congress in 1798 and signed into law by the thin-skinned President John Adams.

That act contained four laws, one of which made it a federal crime to publish false, scandalous and malicious articles against the government or its officials.

It was bitterly attacked at the time as an attempt to stifle criticism of the Adams administration and was opposed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as an attack on free speech. It expired on March 31, 1801.

What kind of president would want to copy the intent of an 18th century law that punishes free speech? Someone who is vengeful and would attempt to use the power of big government and a police state to threaten and silence his critics.

Consider one example of what a President Trump has in store for any American who would dare oppose him.

When the former reality television celebrity learned that Thomas S. Ricketts, one of the owners of a baseball team and a major GOP donor, was opposing him, he threatened him with legal retaliation.

“I hear the [Ricketts] family,” Mr. Trump tweeted, “who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”

Mr. Trump is putting the country on notice that if becomes president with all the power and prerogatives that come with that office, he’s coming after anyone who has the temerity to criticize him.

In one of his latest threats to the news media and to The Washington Post in particular, Mr. Trump said, “If I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”

These are the kind of malevolent, get-even, Nixonian practices Mr. Trump would bring to his presidency, declaring war on anyone who opposes him.

At 6:30 a.m. one morning, Mr. Trump tweeted a quote from the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, which said, “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

When someone questioned its origin, Mr. Trump replied, “What difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else? It’s a very good quote.”

Somebody call in a shrink.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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