The left has made a multi-purpose straw man out of President Trump. Need to embarrass the president? Call him a child with no ability to govern. Want to stop the president’s agenda? Call him an existential threat to democracy the next day. So on and so forth as political circumstance requires.
But Democrats have been rather careless with their straw man, and now the stuffing is starting to show. Nowhere is this more clear than last week when liberals voted down an amendment that would have forced the federal government to get a warrant before spying on its citizens.
Here the hypocrisy is obvious, because the contradiction is blatant.
Since Inauguration Day, liberals have fear-mongered in order to swell the ranks of their #Resistance. While they said Ronald Reagan was senile and George W. Bush was stupid, they now accuse Trump of being an evil authoritarian. Pieces in both the Washington Post and the New York Times, for instance, declared 1984 a must-read at the start of 2017. In the same spirit, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even accused Trump of attempting “word and thought control.”
If any of this was legitimate, liberals would suddenly become the biggest advocates of limited government, or at least limited executive power. And for a while, there was even hope that checks and balances would come back in vogue. Reasonable people like columnist Ryan Cooper could be forgiven for naively expecting “Democrats to see at least some of the problems with unchecked surveillance powers.” But they didn’t.
When given an opportunity to limit the authority of a man they said was unsafe for democracy, Democrats joined with Republicans to put the keys to the surveillance state back into the pocket of the president. The House voted down an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would have forced the government to get a warrant before spying on citizens. The combined vote was 233 against with 183 in favor.
While 55 Democrats voted against the amendment and 125 voted in favor, Pelosi easily could have whipped more votes in the amendment's favor, garnering enough support for it to pass. Instead, she voted no.
Two explanations exist. Either Democrats like Pelosi love a federal leviathan more than they fear Trump because they want to preserve its powers for the next president, or Democrats never really worried about Trump and just wanted to discredit him.
They better decide which position to take, because if they keep throwing him around, their straw man will fall apart.