There’s a word that doesn’t often pop up in everyday conversation.
It’s used to describe something that is superficially plausible but actually wrong.
And it’s the word that immediately came to mind when President Donald Trump’s legal team trotted out its remarkable argument that the guy in the White House — because he is in the White House — is essentially above the laws of the land.
If a president wants to impede an investigation into his own affairs, he can do that; it’s not obstruction of justice.
If a president wants to fire a prosecutor building a case against him, he can do that, because he’s the president.
Laws don’t matter. Only power matters.
As Richard Nixon tried to argue it a generation ago, “If a president does it, it is not illegal” even if the same thing is illegal for every other American citizen.
Trouble is, as Richard Nixon found out, that’s not the case.
This remains, for all its faults and divisions and occasional confusion, a nation of laws. And those laws apply to all of us.
Even to the president.
That much should be obvious to someone who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution.
But it’s a point lost on those defending President Trump today.
One wonders if all the president’s men have thought at all about the precedent that might be set if their argument prevails.
If — to get this particular president off the hook — they successfully sell the idea that the president is above the law, what about the next president? Or the next? Or the next?
This is, ultimately, not about Donald Trump. He’s only a minor character in this drama, historically speaking.
It’s about the rule of law.
And if we are to persevere as a country, it must be as a nation of laws, not as a merry-go-round of power.
Specious is just one word that comes to mind in the face of the argument from the president’s lawyers.
Ridiculous is another.
But the best description of it is simple: Un-American.