As Donald Trump has continued to debase and criminalize the presidency, he’s destroyed most of the norms of the office from within. That’s left others in the no-win position of trying to decide whether to ignore the norms of the office from the outside. For instance, the living former U.S. presidents have each taken different and measured approaches to calling out Trump’s horridness. That is, until now.
Yesterday, President Jimmy Carter – long viewed as one of the highest character people to ever hold the office – flat out stated that Donald Trump isn’t a legitimate president because Russia helped alter the outcome of the election on his behalf. It’s not a big deal for you and me to state this obvious fact. But when Carter said it, his words carried the weight of the office itself, as he’s one of only four people on the planet who have previously occupied and are still around to speak on the office’s behalf.
The whole thing was even more of a bombshell when you consider that President Carter didn’t merely say that Donald Trump is a bad president or a failed president – he essentially said that Trump is not president. Keep in mind that while Carter has always been known to call it like he sees it, he’s always done it in gentlemanly fashion – he’s a ninety-four year old guy who builds houses for the homeless, after all – so when he comes out swinging like this, it means a whole lot.
President Carter’s words were met with widespread agreement and praise. Not everyone was happy, though. Retired GOP Senator Jeff Flake tweeted that “This is an awful thing for one American President to say about another. Argue that he shouldn’t be reelected, sure, but don’t say that he wasn’t legitimately elected.” But then Flake’s tweet got hit with about twenty times as many comments as likes – a sign that most people were siding with Carter over Flake.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report