President Trump, Please Cease and Desist

President Trump is my president. Did I vote for him? No. Do I think he is a wise man? No. Do I trust his judgment? No. Still, I am a small-d democrat, and I have respect for the will of the people even when I think the people have chosen unwisely. Some of my conservative friends questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy—electorally as well as biologically—and I pushed back hard at them, I feel comfortable now disagreeing with my liberal friends about Donald Trump. He is the president, therefore he is my president.

I mentioned small-d democracy above; I’m also a Constitutionalist. I believe the United States Constitution, while far from holy writ, is the highest and best example of how human beings should live in relation to each other and to their joint government. The Bill of Rights—the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution for my foreign readers—lays out a compact or agreement between the government and we the governed. Included in there are the right to keep and bear arms, the right not to incriminate ourselves, the right to assemble peaceably, the right to worship or not worship as we see fit, and the right of free speech. It’s that last I’d like to call upon for the rest of this column.

I think President Bush was a mush-minded chowderhead for toppling Sadam Hussein based on imaginary weapons of mass destruction.

Protected by the First Amendment.

President Clinton was a narcissistic and selfish liar who wasted tremendous political capital for the sake of sexual/emotional gratification.

Protected by the First Amendment.

President Obama threw a diaper into an already poisoned punchbowl when he declared a “red line” in Syria then failed to act.

Protected by the First Amendment.

With each passing day, President Trump feels more like an autocrat who dreams of dictatorship than like the leader of a free country. My final straw? His cease-and-desist letter a few days ago, demanding a halt in publication of a sleazy tell-all book. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, of which I’ve read only the first two-hundred pages, is a novelistic hatchet job on Donald Trump. Imagine if Sherman McCoy from Bonfire of the Vanities had somehow been elected president—he would show more self-awareness than Wolff’s Trump. It is an ugly picture, and I have to question how Wolff managed to get all this background. Even more, I have to question how it is that Wolff was apparently offered a backstage pass to the shenanigans. When I’m done reading it, I doubt I’ll ever pick it up again. Still . . . Protected by the First Amendment.

For the President of the United States to demand the suppression of a book that provides no threat to national security, offers no classified information and doesn’t call for the violent overthrow of the government is a travesty. The book says ugly things about Donald Trump. Clinton Cash said ugly things about Hillary and Bill Clinton. The new biography of Jann Wenner says ugly things about him. Saying ugly things about people is protected under the First Amendment. If I’m attacked this way, either orally or in print, I have two possible responsible choices. I can take the high road, ignoring the attack and demonstrating through my deeds and words the attack was groundless or I can choose to address each of the ugly things, providing evidence they are not true. What I, as an American, must not do is try to prevent the publication of such attacks. I have to protect my enemy’s right to free speech as much as my friend’s.

Before I take a cold compress and lie down to later write silly stuff, I want to address a defense offered by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president’s press secretary, that somehow the president has a right to suppress the book because it attacks President Trump’s family. (It’s not germane to my argument, but I do relish the irony of President Trump feeling his family should be off limits after suggesting Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination and mocking the physical appearance of Heidi Cruz.) I believe Eric, Don, and Ivanka Trump are all adults and all surrogates for the President, and therefore fair game in any political expose. Again, I’ve only read the first hundred pages, but so far Tiffany Trump, daughter of Donald Trump and Marla Maples, who has stayed out of the political eye, has not been mentioned at all, nor has Baron Trump, the president’s young son. Yes, Melania Trump has been presented as devastated at having to be First Lady, but that role is a public one, and, in my lifetime I have to go back to Pat Nixon to see any First Lady who hasn’t been treated as a political figure.

President Trump has likely doubled, tripled or quadrupled the sales of Wolff’s tawdry and gossipy book. If that last sentence is hyperbolic, let me restate it in personal terms. I’ve never bought this kind of trash before, whether written by Kitty Kelley about the Reagans or other two-bit hustlers about other presidents. All it took to get my wallet open, though, was the President of the United States trying to prevent its publication. After all, it’s protected by the First Amendment.

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