As crises unfold, Trump turns his attention to ... flag burning?

Trump isn't governing, and he's not problem solving, but he is championing Bibles and flags - which he apparently hopes will be enough to hold onto power.
Image: TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-ELECTIONS-TRUMP
US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, DC, July 19, 2017.SAUL LOEB / AFP - Getty Images
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By Steve Benen

Donald Trump doesn't have a plan to address the lingering coronavirus crisis. He also doesn't have a plan to deal with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. The president also doesn't have a plan to address racial injustices, which has sparked unrest in communities across the country.

But he does have a policy proposal in mind to address flag burning. In fact, Trump took his pitch to the nation's governors yesterday.

"We have a different court and I think that it's time that we review that again.... I think it's time to relook at that issue, hopefully the Supreme Court will accept that." He continued: "If you wanted to try to pass a very powerful flag-burning statute again -- anti-flag burning, I hope you'll do it because we'll back you 100% all the way. Okay? I hope some of you do it."

The president added that he'd like to see Americans receive "strong punishment" for engaging in flag-burning protests he finds offensive.

This comes up from time to time. During his presidential transition process, Trump, after running a campaign that was outwardly hostile toward the First Amendment, responded to a Fox News segment by calling for Americans to lose their citizenship if they burn a flag. Last year, via Twitter, he endorsed a constitutional amendment prohibiting Americans from being able to desecrate a flag.

It's likely someone has already explained to the president that the Supreme Court has already ruled twice that flag-burning is protected speech, but now that Trump has two new allies on the nation's highest bench, he apparently thinks the justices will rule the other way if given another chance.

For now, let's put aside the speculation about how the high court might rule on a hypothetical case that hasn't begun. Let's also put aside the explanation about constitutional principles and how the United States has gotten by just fine without carving out this exception from the First Amendment.

Let's instead take note of Trump's crisis posture: faced with civil unrest, high unemployment, and over 100,000 American dying during a pandemic, the president wants to be seen championing Bibles and flags. Soon, he'll add fireworks at Mount Rushmore to the mix.

Trump isn't governing. He's not problem solving. He's not working on a policy agenda. The president is instead offering symbols and photo-ops, hoping just enough Americans are impressed so he can hold onto power.