October 21, 2019 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

Quick Take: Fascists do fascism

Here's the first installment of a new daily feature.

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Editor’s note
This is the first installment of what I’m calling Quick Takes, items sent to everyone by mid-afternoon on one thing with some thoughts sprinkled here and there. I hope you like it. —JS

The president surrendered over the weekend to the Constitution’s clause forbidding presidents from taking bribes. He surrendered because big wigs in his party said they could not defend his decision to take bribes by hosting the next G7 summit at his struggling golf resort, Trump National Doral in Miami. His surrendering illustrates that the president is weak and getting weaker (that’s according to me and the Post’s Philip Rucker). Even so, Donald Trump found the time today for a little fascism.

One of the features of fascism is taking something nonpartisan, like the Emoluments Clause in the US Constitution banning presidents from accepting money from foreign leaders, and making it political. It’s depicting settled matters as something corrupt, immoral or even criminal. During a press gaggle today, Trump said he changed his mind about the G7 due to press scrutiny and “this phony emoluments clause.” He said a variety of things to portray himself as the victim of an unfair system that he would surely reform if only there were not so much democracy getting in his way.

It’s tempting to see today’s statement as just one more time Donald Trump is whining about not getting in his way. But we need to understand that it’s more than that. He’s actually telling us that the Constitution’s anti-corruption clause is itself corrupt, and that if he could get enough people to agree with him, he’d change that in a hurry.

—John Stoehr


  • I wrote a piece for Religion Dispatches over the weekend. Check it out.

  • I’m co-hosting a civics program in New Haven tomorrow night. I hope you come.

  • David Frum retweeted today’s edition of the Editorial Board. How about that?

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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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