The declaration a week ago that he is “The Chosen One” was just a jest.
At least that’s what President Donald Trump claimed after an avalanche of criticism rumbled his way in the wake of his self-anointment at a White House press conference.
His shoot-from-the-lip speaking style has gotten him in hot water so often it’s barely newsworthy.
Still, it was an extremely strange thing to say.
But days later — in apparent total seriousness — he demanded that U.S. companies find ways to do business without involving China. Many people questioned if this was legal for any U.S. President to command and whether it was a good idea, given how intertwined U.S. and China’s economies are.
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump tweeted.
The words “hereby ordered” kicked off a frenzy of speculation about whether the president has the power to tell private companies who they can — or cannot — do business with.
Most of the cooler analytical heads opined that the president definitely has no such power. But he could demand that various federal agencies institute stiff import and export restrictions aimed at making life tough for any U.S. business that defied his tweeted command.
As the president continues to escalate his trade war with China, it’s pretty clear he has no qualms about using tariffs and any monetary lever to get his way.
But “hereby ordered?”
Take note: “words matter.”
Imagine for a moment if the elected mayor of any Finger Lakes municipality, or a town supervisor, ordered private firms within their jurisdiction to halt doing businesses with out-of-state companies. Or perhaps ordered public agencies under their supervision to do so, but without specific legislative support from the other elected officials on the city council or town board.
Imagine NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo commanding businesses in this way.
It’s really unthinkable.
Most Finger Lakes residents would protest so loudly even the most tone deaf of elected officials would be forced to take notice.
Although Trump seems to have changed his mind in a dizzying reversal, this latest presidential tweet/order/command/edict, should prompt citizens to question incumbent Finger Lakes Congressmen Tom Reed and Chris Collins about their continued support for this president, his policies and his back-and-forth, wildly seesawing style of leadership.
Voters should pointedly ask, for example, if Reed and/or Collins support the notion that the president has the power to compel private businesses to follow his wishes. And if so, if the two elected officials believe American companies really should simply stop doing business with China — or any country — simply because of an edict by Trump.
What action will finally be the tipping point of local support in which citizens say “Enough!”
Reed and Collins have been lockstep with the president since he was elected, rarely deviating even minutely from his positions on nearly all matters.
But this latest move may be too much even for them.
And then there is this to consider, too.
Early this week it was widely reported that the president has asked in recorded briefings if the U.S. should use nuclear weapons to battle hurricanes headed toward a U.S. landfall. His apparent theory is detonating a nuclear explosion in the eye of a hurricane would disrupt the storm, keeping it from hitting the coast. Hurricane experts and scientists say the radioactive fallout that would be spread by the wild winds and rain would be catastrophic.
Legal researchers scrambling to determine if the president can legally tell businesses who they can conduct commerce with should also take a moment to research presidential authority for use of nuclear weapons for non-military purposes.
Hurricane season is fast approaching.
Who can predict what The Chosen One might decide to do to protect the coastline.