Editor’s Note: Michael D’Antonio is the author of the book “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” (St. Martin’s Press). The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

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Michael D'Antonio: On July Fourth, the US finds itself in a crisis of the "new abnormal"

Instead of calls for unity and respect, Trump is sowing a dangerous discord, D'Antonio says

CNN  — 

Shortly before his first Fourth of July in office, Ronald Reagan honored the NAACP by addressing its convention. Eight years later, President George H.W. Bush declared, ”The law cannot tolerate any discrimination, and my administration will not tolerate abuse of that principle.” In 2001, his son used his first July Fourth in office to advocate “brotherly love” in Philadelphia. Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, made news when he warned that Russia’s Vladimir Putin still had “one foot” in the Cold War.

Flash-forward to 2017. Independence Day finds America plunged into what can only be called a crisis of the “new abnormal.” With an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia well underway, President Donald Trump has done little to respond to Putin’s massive cyberattacks against the United States and its allies. Instead, he spends his days tweeting against his critics. It’s no wonder his approval ratings have dipped below 40%.

Michael D'Antonio

Trump’s newest low has predictably involved attacks on the news media and includes a few seconds of video in which Trump punches a man with the CNN logo for a head – possibly borrowed from an individual who CNN reports may have an anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim track record.

Coming from a president just days before the nation’s celebration of its independence, Americans have reason to be disheartened. But what makes matters worse is that his most recent tweets are just the latest in Trump’s growing list of juvenile outbursts, and they are accompanied by more serious acts, which may represent an abuse of presidential power.

Attacking and undermining the media

According to MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, top White House aides threatened that the National Enquirer, a notorious supermarket tabloid, would publish an expose about them if they did not apologize to the President for their criticisms. The National Enquirer and the White House both dispute this claim.

Given the Enquirer’s penchant for destructive and salacious gossip and the President’s longtime friendship with its publisher, the calls from the White House could be considered credible threats. And threats, both veiled and direct, have long been Trump’s stock-in-trade. After his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was about to testify to Congress, Trump said Comey “better hope there are no `tapes’ of our conversations.” More recently, he reportedly threatened to sue CNN, saying, “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Although he sp