WASHINGTON — There's no going back after Donald Trump threatened the American people with military force.
"I have the tough people," Trump bragged to Breitbart, claiming he has the support of the military, police and Bikers for Trump. He said things could get "very bad."
That's a heart-stopping moment for American democracy. George Washington, the general and president who twice wielded power and gave it back, would need smelling salts. No American president has ever threatened us — we the people — with violence. And yet we go on, barely batting an eye. Citizens of the world's greatest democracy should know the military must never be politicized. It's a vile insult to suggest that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines be turned on the populace they are sworn to protect.
But judging from the muted reaction to this, the body politic has become immune to presidential outrages. The White House press corps has become worn down, keeping up with Trump's tweets trumpeted at dawn, all day long and into darkness.
How social is social media in the "discoarse" of the Trumpian Age?
One of Washington's political sages, Norm Ornstein, tweeted that this threat of political repression at home should be the main story in the news media. This is Trump at his worst, maybe not an idle boast. The scary thing about Trump is that he means what he says.
A few outrages ago, remember a chilling line from Michael Cohen's House testimony. The president's former lawyer, sentenced to three years for lying to Congress spoke somberly about "Mr. Trump." If Trump loses in 2020, he warned, there would not be a peaceful transfer of power.
Liars can tell the truth. I believe Cohen's warning had the knell of truth, however hard to contemplate. If you remember back to 2016, Trump refused to say he would concede if he lost to Hillary Clinton. We know the rest. He won the Electoral College. Yet Clinton was akin to the people's president, winning nearly 3 million more votes. Too bad, people.
What's clear now is that Trump never reaches for the center, playing only to the minority of voters and states that supported him. He hates the rest of the states. He just took odd pleasure in his first "VETO!" Holding on to the 39 percent that approves of him, Trump's confident he can win the 2020 board game again. He's got all the money and hotels — what else?
There is one politician he seems to grudgingly respect: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the veto upheld his emergency declaration for building a border wall, defying Congress, as if to say: You will never win. Brazen disregard for the separation of powers is a new thing, now that the House is not painted red anymore.
Pelosi and her Democratic majority hit Washington like the early wind of spring. The House voted unanimously that Congress should see Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full Russian investigation report. Next week, the House will try to override Trump's veto. Of course, the adept Pelosi cannot save democracy alone.
It's yet another egregious assault when Trump speaks ill of the dead Republican Senator John McCain. Another when Trump spurns a satirical TV show, blasting "Saturday Night Live," hinting darkly of censorship.
In chilling news abroad, there's no turning back when the charged mass killer in New Zealand hails the president as a "symbol of renewed white identity." There's no turning back when Trump cultivates strong ties with Saudi Arabia, despite evidence of the regime murdering a Saudi journalist and detaining hundreds of its own people, including women's rights activists. One tried to die by suicide.
There's no turning back when George Conway, a fancy lawyer married to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, put out the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. "His condition is getting worse," he wrote on Twitter. "Total loser," Trump responded. Not another day at the office, dear.
I read Sidney Verba, the Harvard scholar of democracy, died at 86. I wonder what he thought of ours.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website creators.com.