The Democrats well remember their success in baiting George H. Bush into alienating his base by persuading him to renege on his campaign pledge: “Read my lips … no new taxes!” Well the new taxes came, the already suspicious base could no longer rationalize to themselves that Bush would continue the Reagan legacy, and Bush was a single-term President. His successor being none other than Bill Clinton.
Mere days ago this contributor posted a piece discussing the dangers of DACA and immigration generally, and making the comparison of Donald Trump to Winston Churchill. That piece was inspired by two motivations: 1) concern about the smoke signals coming out of the Republican Party last weekend (e.g., Lindsey Graham) implying that an immigration
deal betrayal was imminent; and 2) expectation that, like Churchill, Trump recognized the existential threat to this nation and would hold the line on his campaign promises to his base.
That optimism concerning Trump was borne of pleasant surprise at (most of) his moves thus far. This writer began the 2016 race as a Ted Cruz supporter; and while appreciating (amongst other things) Trump’s strong stance on illegal immigration, tended to discount it as (frankly) bull to lure the “bubba vote.” After all, Trump was from New York and hobnobbed with Democrats all his life; his campaign utterances had to be a ruse. That said, after Cruz dropped out, and the race became a choice of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the choice was easy — roll the dice on Trump and hope for the best. As many of us experienced, we were glad to have (apparently) misjudged the man, for up until today his record was, if not perfect, solidly and aggressively conservative, i.e., pro-American.
That was then; today, January 9, 2018, is another day. The White House DACA-fest bodes ill. This from President Trump at his press confab afterwards:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I also think that, after we do DACA — and I really believe we should be able to be successful — I really think we should look in terms of your permanent solution and to the whole situation with immigration. I think a lot of people in this room would agree to that also, but we’ll do it in steps. And most people agree with that, I think, that we’ll do the steps. Even you say, ‘let’s do this, and then we go phase two.’
Let us not forget that DACA was an unconstitutional “executive amnesty” diktat by President Barack Hussein Obama. President Trump now apparently supports enshrining that amnesty into law. In other words, President Trump is beginning to embrace the Obama agenda, including, apparently, a “phase two” toward “comprehensive immigration reform.” If granting amnesty to illegal aliens — who are trespassers in this land — does not equate to a “read my lips” level betrayal, it’s hard to imagine what would be. The White House would have us believe that we’ll get (some form of, or some portion of) the campaign-promised border wall in return. Or at least some initial funding toward that. Well, been there, done that. Does anyone reading this believe that a “comprehensive border wall” will be quickly erected, and to completion across the southern border? Me neither. Besides, why should we have to “trade” anything for the wall?
Donald Trump is an experienced negotiator, and so is familiar with the concept of “BATNA.” That stands for “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” Which in turn means that (amongst other things) having a decent alternative means that you retain the ability to walk-away from negotiations if you can’t arrive at terms at least acceptable to you (if that is your internal bottom-line), if not advantageous to you (if that is your internal bottom-line). The party which is willing to walk-away from the table has the advantage. Well Trump could have called the Democrats’ bluff, could have had his BATNA, stating that: “Fine Democrats, close down the government and refuse to fund the wall all on behalf of a bunch of illegal alien trespassers, and see how that works out for you in 2018. I’ll worry about funding the wall after the 2018 elections and my appearances around the country highlighting how you care more about illegals than about American citizens.” In other words, Trump merely had to call their bluff. Instead, we’re getting signals of a massive cave by the Trump administration. From the January 9, 2018 post-DACA confab briefing by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
MS. SANDERS: I think the President is setting himself up to achieve what everybody in that room agreed they wanted to see happen, and that is a deal on DACA, a deal on border security, talking about chain migration, and visa lottery. That’s where we are in this process. Those are the four principles.
Time to engage in some Clinton-reminiscent “parsing” of carefully chosen words intended to give a misleading impression to the cursory listener. Note that the word “deal” precedes the words “DACA” and “border security.” On the other hand the terms “chain migration” and “visa lottery” are preceded merely by “talking about.” This signals that a fix is in for a DACA amnesty, and for some fig-leaf “we can declare victory” border security in the form of, e.g., a promise to build (some sort of) wall, for some small distance, someday. The DACA amnesty will occur almost immediately and be permanent; the wall (or other security) will await an uncertain and reversible future. It ALSO signals that eliminating “chain migration” and the “visa lottery” are now off the table. “Talking about” is far less significant than “deal” and, worse, once the Democrats and Establishment Republicans have DACA amnesty in hand after this “deal,” how many millions more will have to be given amnesty in order to procure something on “chain migration” and “visa lottery?” The DACA chip will already have been cashed-in by President Trump.
One hopes that this is not fallout from the recent brouhaha and falling-out between Donald Trump and Stephen K. Bannon. But there are disturbing signs that perhaps, in a pique, President Trump is not only rebuffing Bannon but the positions that Bannon championed. The positions now, in the President’s mind, being tarred by association with Bannon? After all, within the past week President Trump also flamboyantly announced that he’s embracing Establishment Republicans — swamp Republicans — by pledging to support them, and not primary challengers against them. Doing so might make sense if he got something significant in return — but him falling-in with the likes of Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham on DACA amnesty makes it look like it’s Trump conceding to them, not the other way around. It’s almost as if Donald Trump is channeling Ivanka!
This writer hopes and prays that, as before, his concerns regarding President Trump prove wrong, and that we all end up pleasantly surprised and optimistic again that we have a President actually fighting for the best interests of America and its American citizens. But one would have to be a fool to not be gravely concerned about developments over the past several days. Just when it was really starting to feel like we finally had the first Republican President since Ronald Reagan that wouldn’t stab us in the back once in office, we get a “bipartisan” knife-sharpening party at the White House. Pray that this is a false alarm. If not, this could be the final Progressive nail in the coffin of this country as originally founded.