Trump and the Right

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Williamson_Ed_2019

It seems that a part of Donald Trump’s base—the part that writes and otherwise comments on him, anyway—is angry with the President for having reopened the portions of the federal government he had shut down for 35 days after failing to obtain congressional funding for his Big Beautiful Wall.  Some of these people saw this act as a retreat, or a surrender, or even a sellout of the 63 million voters who elected him.  Ann Coulter actually called him “a wimp,” the biggest since George H.W. Bush.  That was silly of her, since it is hard to see what else Trump could have done in the circumstances.

To say so, of course, raises the question whether he should have committed himself to a promise to shut down the government if the requested $5.7 million for the project were not forthcoming, in the first place.  Though one can argue cogently either way, the fact remains that the Democrats, starting with Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer and working downward, did nothing to strengthen their bargaining position, or burnish their image even as politicians, by just saying “no” as many times as Nancy Reagan could ever have wished.  Indeed, what was being refused here was not only attention to a matter of national security but also a strategy to staunch the flood of drugs across the border by reducing it to a trickle.

It is true that Trump put up the 800,000 DACA beneficiaries as a counter, but he had done that already, many months previously, before taking it off the table again.  Doing so was a mistake, if only because it served to validate President Obama’s initial illegal action in offering them legal protection from deportation.  The President is facing a situation in which compromise, by all the ordinary rules of political deliberation, seems required.  On the other hand, compromise on immigration bills since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has been almost wholly one-sided, owing to the size and extent of the immigrationist lobby composed of Republicans as well as Democrats, to the point where compromise makes no sense anymore.  The lobby wants mass immigration today, tomorrow, and forever.

At this point, President Trump would be well advised to quit negotiating with the Democrats on the issue of immigration in the broadest sense of the problem—to park it for now, except for the Wall—and turn his attention to the immediately critical problem of asylum-seeking en masse, a phenomenon that was never envisaged by the drafters of the body of relevant law as it currently stands—law that, as the caravans keep coming from the south, is so manifestly insufficient and in need of reform that even Democrats will fear to resist his efforts.

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