Clearly peeved at the latest published account of a hobbled White House, President Donald Trump returned to a pie-in-the-sky theme that drew attention during his last campaign.
"Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws," he tweeted Wednesday after excerpts of Bob Woodward's "Fear: Trump in the White House" were published.
Who should know better than a president why "Washington politicians" of his own party aren't doing something?
Once again, Trump sounds if he isn't part of the lawmaking process. Once again, there is little chance Congress would act on his complaint. Once again, he evokes a theoretical lawsuit that won't materialize.
Each yelp of this kind seems to become less audible and less memorable.
Back in October, Trump threatened television stations he does not like with revocation of their Federal Communications Commission authorization. After a bit of excitement, everyone realized that licenses go to local stations, not national networks. Nothing happened.
In April, Trump issued an executive order demanding an evaluation of the Postal Service's finances after accusing Amazon, the online retail giant, of underpaying for postage. No evidence of his allegation has surfaced, and now there is vague talk about privatizing the operation, which is a long shot because Congress would have to authorize it.
For all the noise he makes, Congress seems to ignore Trump quite a bit, either despite or perhaps because it is run by the same party as the president.
"Our immigration laws are the weakest and worst anywhere in the world," the president lamented in June while besieged by the family-separation controversy. There is no sign that the House and Senate are any closer than they have been in years to comprehensive immigration changes.
Trump threatened a "shutdown" before the midterm elections if his border wall wasn't funded by Congress. As widely expected, the threat was empty. “I don’t see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right now," he told the right-wing Daily Caller website this week.
In June, the American president also suggested that Russia be readmitted to the Group of 7 economic alliance to which it belonged until 2014. There has been no public followup since then.
Earlier, he suggested the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had outlived its usefulness. NATO goes on now largely as it did before.
(Last two paragraphs correct earlier version).
In May, Trump caused a ripple in Europe when he reportedly told French president Emmanuel Macron he wanted to ban German automobiles from U.S. roads. Last year, nearly half a million vehicles were exported from Germany to the U.S. That flow does not seem to have ended.
As months pass, the deficit between administration proposals and real-life action seems to grow.