If you think Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States, try writing about a relatively simple public policy that Trump is trying to explain. Clarity is nearly impossible. Even when he yells and points and pounds a podium to emphasize where he stands on an issue, there is no reason to believe him or that he even knows what he is talking about.
A Trump policy that should be absolutely ingrained in the minds of voters is building a wall on our southern border with Mexico. For two years now, all we have heard from Trump is the need for a huge wall to keep out the bad guys. And, now, that time has come.
This week, at a White House meeting with congressional leaders interested in settling the legal issue of DACA – immigrant children brought to the United States by their parents – Trump had one role in this legislative drama: Defend building the wall he has talked about for two years.
How easy is that? All Trump had to do is utter these words, “I’ll give you what you want, if you give me what I want.” That is it. Nothing more. This is how Washington works. It is called compromise and, for a “very stable genius,” Trump should get it. He is, after all, the best dealmaker in the world. He knows how to negotiate better than anyone else. All he had to do is make clear that his support of a DACA bill, protecting “Dreamer” kids, is tied to the other side agreeing to fund the wall. No wall, no DACA – not one without the other.
So, there he was, perfectly leveraged, his hand-picked media watching with cameras rolling, in a room full of desperate congressional leaders expecting to get hit with all sorts of counter-demands, waiting for the great dealmaker to step all over them, knowing he has the upper hand. Let the deal making begin!
Liberal Senator Diane Feinstein, who understands smart deal-making begins by never negotiating with yourself, first offers Trump the opposition’s original position: How about an independent DACA bill free of strings and conditions? Waiting for Trump to burst into laughter, the room is <a href=”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fifty-five-minutes-at-the-table-trump-tries-to-negotiate-and-prove-stability/2018/01/09/0b41af64-f570-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html?utm_term=.ddb7164876ec” target=”_blank”>stunned to hear Trump say</a>, “Yeah, I would like to do it.”
What did he just say? “Yeah, I would like to do it.” What? Wait, wait, wait, House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy interrupted after recovering from the shock of that statement. “Mr. President, you need to be clear, though…I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here — when we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security,” meaning you have to have your wall, Mr. President.
Later in the same meeting, Trump seemed to finally catch on and adjusted his position but the damage had been done. The next day, during an unrelated press conference, <a href=”http://time.com/5097748/donald-trump-immigration-daca/” target=”_blank”>Trump stated</a>, matter-of-factly, “Any legislation has to include the wall.” We will do DACA and the wall now and comprehensive immigration after those two things are done. As if to punctuate his demands, the White House communications staff conveniently forgot to include the sentence, “Yeah, I would like to do it,” from the official transcript of the DACA meeting.
Adding insult to injury – meaning adding incorrigible to incompetent – Trump called for a “bill of love.” Whereupon, <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Love_(politics)” target=”_blank”>Jeb Bush</a> threw himself off a bridge. Even Bannon-less, Trump-sided, Breitbart News <a href=”http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/01/09/trump-calls-daca-amnesty-bill-love-wall-funding-need-wall/” target=”_blank”>called the bill</a> idea “amnesty.” Donald Trump ran on a platform of not just tough but harsh immigration policies. Now, evidently, he supports “amnesty.”
Do standards for political service exist any more? Has history met and accepted the “Trump Rule”? Say anything you want to get what you want, except in getting what you want you often have no clue what it is that you want.
At the end of his DACA meeting, Trump assured the mixed-partisan group that he would run interference from any pushback by his base. He said proudly, “I’ll take all the heat you want to give me, and I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.”
Of course he will. Nothing matters to him. Until it does. And, then again, until it doesn’t. To Trump, criticism is like water off of a duck. A stupid duck – one that cannot swim or fly or do duck things.