Donald Trump's Unnatural Disasters
We all have second thoughts, but Trump’s problem is that a president’s first thought is taken as something akin to the law.
As another Category 5 storm closes in, Trump keeps creating his own unnatural disasters.
Hurricane Trump landed in the Oval Office this past week and had its second landfall in Congress and the press on Tuesday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as of September 5, 2017.
Congress now has six months to save the Dreamers who came here with their parents as children and know no other home. White House officials told the New York Times that as late as an hour before he decided, Trump seemed not to understand his impact on the valedictorians, servicemen, teachers and first responders—one of whom just lost his life saving victims of Harvey—of his action. In good faith, the Dreamers registered their presence, paid their taxes, and lived here without fear. That’s over. ICE stated that its priority for deportation would be those here with criminal records, including traffic violations. But there was no promise not to round up Dreamers. The Department of Homeland Security put out a statement warning Dreamers to “ready for departure.”
But as Trump often does, he didn’t let the statement stand. He went on to undermine the very excuse for what he’d just done, Tweeting that if Congress didn’t act in six months, “I will revisit this issue!”
Really? The whole justification for rescinding DACA, which almost no one wants, including some days If not others Trump, was the assertion that no president—in this case Barack Obama—had the constitutional authority to save the Dreamers, only Congress can. That was his reason to dropkick the hot potato up to the Hill. By saying he’s going to revisit it, Trump not only takes pressure off Congress, he signaled the possibility of dealing with the Dreamers by an executive order — which he’s already said was unconstitutional.
Then began the usual scramble to explain Trump’s variable statements. “Well, you can't put a lot of nuance in 140 characters,” Sarah Isgur Flores, director of public affairs for Sessions, explained on CNN with considerable understatement. Flores went on to do the math, calculating that Trump said “revisit” because it’s shorter than “put more pressure” on.
It comes down to three little words? That presents a new, unified theory of Trumpian thinking: If only he had more space, he wouldn’t say the opposite of what he just said or did, kind of like the old saw if I had more time I’d write a shorter letter (or column). But Trump has many outlets for his messages with no limit on words. He just chooses Twitter.
The Flores thesis clears up a doozy of a Trump tweet that was just deemed baseless by Trump’s own Justice Department. If only Trump had more space he wouldn’t have written “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” adding that the former president was “bad,” and “sick” when with more room, he could have said “I bet Obama was dying to know what I was doing behind closed doors in my campaign, especially on the debates, so he could feed it to Crooked Hillary. Sad.” Even that would have been silly but at least it didn’t lack any basis in fact. The actual accusation merited a public rebuke—albeit made quietly on the Friday before Labor Day weekend—with the DOJ confirming that there are “no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.”
Many of Trump’s contradictory admissions came before the arrival of adult supervision in the person of Marine Gen. John Kelly. Trump left his staff aghast when he jettisoned their explanations and admitted that he fired that “nut job Comey” not because it was recommended to him by Justice or because of the FBI handling of Clinton’s emails but because he wanted to get Comey off his back over the Russia thing. He tweeted why he was right and staff was wrong: “With lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!...."
Kelly hasn’t promised to keep Trump from revisiting anything, in tweets or otherwise, but to make a difference, the general needs to. He’s accomplished a lot—taking back walk-in privileges to the Oval from low-level staffers like Omarosa from the first season of The Apprentice, screening phone calls, moving bodyguard-with-portfolio Kurt Schiller out the door. Post-Kelly, Trump did stop tweet-shaming his Attorney General. What Kelly hasn’t done is control Trump himself, which is why the president revises and extends his remarks like a Congressman inserting corrections into a floor speech into the Congressional Record. There he was yesterday afternoon going on about how big his heart is, how he feels so much love for the Dreamers, but oh, by the way, don’t forget, they’re not kids anymore. And on and on, back and forth, until reels the mind.
The storms continue. There are three, perhaps four, foreign policies if you count Trump’s, which happily seems inoperative or Seoul might just be a memory. Trump says no one loves the environment more than he does but take a look at what’s happening: climate change has been purged from EPA documents, it’s okay now to dump toxic waste from coal mines into streams, and a pesticide used on strawberries shown to cause brain damage in children by the EPA’s own chemical safety experts has just been approved.
And, of course, Trump first wanted everyone to have health care but then he celebrated a “mean” bill passed by the House which would take it away and then brow-beat the Senate to pass an even meaner one.
In fairness, we all have second thoughts, but Trump’s problem is that a president’s first thought is taken as something akin to the law. Massive numbers of people shift to accommodate what he’s said. Talk to a Dreamer. Trump sneezed and Dreamers have pneumonia.
Trump as those who’ve played golf with him can attest, is the king of the do-over. In this case, his second thought to revisit his first is the right one. Let the Dreamers dream on, that, uncharacteristically, he sticks with that.