However, upon closer examination, I was unable to find anything deeper than a cherrypicked, albeit nefarious-sounding, gaffe. In the context of the interview, Miller’s remarks were a defense of the legality of Trump’s executive order on seven Middle Eastern countries, currently under contention. Miller argued that “one unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country” as a preface to his comment that “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” It would be unfair to equate a quick argument for the legal basis of the law to an attempt to quash the courts and the media.
Realistically speaking, the Trump administration is currently at odds with those two entities on many fronts, and crying wolf on Stephen Miller for a soundbite picked from nights of refutations and responses is exaggerated at best and fundamentally misguided at worst. Making an argument for the constitutionally broad presidential powers on foreign policy—one that I do not think is unsound—cannot reasonably be conflagrated with trying to expand the executive office beyond criticism. I’ve little doubt that an authoritarian attitude lurks in Trump’s White House, but Miller’s response to what he interprets as judicial overreach is the wrong place to look.
When I first heard Stephen Miller’s comment about Trump’s national security decisions—that they “will not be questioned,” during an interview with John Dickerson, I was befuddled. I was also happy to learn that the Gangster of Love would finally be putting his lesser-known political acumen to good use. Sadly, my subsequent Google searches left me disappointed.
After clarifying which Stephen Miller was under the spotlight this week, I boarded a few diverging trains of thought: defending a president’s choices by appealing to the executive office itself, and ostensibly attempting to elevate it above criticism smacks of authoritarianism. As I sifted through the indignant and vitriolic responses to Miller’s comment, a big red “I TOLD YOU SO” began to glow dimly in the wastelands of my brain, the first signs of life since the great HUMA brain cell wipeout of 2016. Somewhere between Breitbart and hipsters dressed as vaginas, there was a small and far too feeble-voiced posse of people once called conservatives during the election cycle who warned against electing Obama 2.0 just because he seemed to like the color red all of a sudden. A broad-based ideologue who shifts his less advertised views to suit the opinions of targeted demographic groups? A candidate dependent upon his own image far more than any comprehensive plans? A politician without the best reputation for working with others beyond his own insistence that no one’s better at doing just that? Come on. The authoritarianism was never far behind. If pundits were able for a single glorious moment to view and critique politicians without the filters of race and party, the similarities between Trump and Obama would be noticed with greater regularity.