After one year in office, is Trump starting to hit his stride as president?
Most notably, Trump outmaneuvered the Democrats in the first phase of the immigration struggle, leading Senate Democrats to shut down the government on Friday but then, in humiliation, reopen it on Monday.
Why? Senate Democrats are facing trouble in 2018 because so many of them happened to get elected during the 2012 Democratic wave when lots of Obama’s Coalition of the Fringes could be cajoled to show up for the glamour of the presidential election. In contrast, 2018 will be an off-year election, like 2010 and 2014, when solid-citizen Republicans normally make up a larger share of those who bother to vote. Perhaps the Trump excitement will inspire Democratic voters this fall, but in the meantime, Democratic senators in swing states didn’t like the shutdown’s message that their party prioritized illegal aliens over American citizens.
And the more the public hears actual debates about immigration policy, the more it sides with Trump. As I’ve been pointing out, the Democrats and the media have been drifting toward the bizarre extremist posture that the American people do not even have the democratic right to limit immigration. Why not? Because any choice of some immigrants over other immigrants would be discrimination, and thus the borders must be open to everybody not wearing an ISIS suicide belt while deplaning at JFK.
In a world of inexpensive intercontinental transport, virtually free communications, and over 7 billion non-Americans, this kind of sentiment is self-evidently absurd.
It doesn’t do the Democrats much good to have the public talking about immigration policy, because only the Trumpers are thinking seriously about principles for a sustainable future.
For example, Trump recently quoted the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX), the restrictionist chairwoman of Bill Clinton’s immigration commission (whose 1996 death from cancer was a disastrous setback for the cause of patriotic immigration policy): “It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.”
Texas Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa responded by demonizing Trump. Apparently, it is racist to cite a black woman Democrat on the national interest when her insight delegitimizes the Democrats’ plan to rig American elections by importing foreign voters.
In contrast to the Democrats’ anti-democracy fanaticism on immigration, Trump’s intuitions are moderate and sensible. He and his immigration policy adviser Stephen Miller expect to eventually grant amnesty to approaching a million DACAites who qualified under Obama’s regulations (but perhaps not the several million who didn’t). In return, however, they want the Democrats to concede to reforms of America’s much-abused immigration laws.
A Harvard-Harris poll conducted late last week found 65 percent of the public agreeing with Trump’s basic stance of amnesty for DACAites in return for funding Trump’s wall, ending the more absurd privileges of chain legal migration, and dumping Ted Kennedy’s Diversity Visa Lottery.
Far more needs to be done to shut down the Scramble for America, such as E-Verify, immigrant insurance, and an end to the absurd birthright citizenship custom that leads to birth tourism, but this would be a start. Moreover, getting significant restrictive legislation passed would deflate the recent conventional wisdom that Americans don’t deserve to regulate immigration in their own interest. It would be harder for Democrats to argue “You can’t do that” when we just did.
Following their abortive government shutdown, the Democrats are flailing about for a strategy. In desperation they are trying to prod Trump to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by firing his immigration adviser. Democrats hope calling him “President Miller” will enrage Trump.
But Miller, who is only 32, has kept his eyes on the historic prize—a rational reordering of America’s self-destructive immigration nonsystem—and avoided the missteps of some other Trump aides, such as imagining that the press could ever possibly come over to his side if he just leaked enough.
Miller, who is from Santa Monica, Calif., is too young to remember a formative influence on Trump: the 1977–1981 World Series rivalry between the New York Yankees, owned by Trump’s mentor, the combative George Steinbrenner, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, owned by the buttoned-down O’Malley family.
The two cities employ different interpersonal styles. New Yorkers love insults and fights, while Angelenos favor a more complimentary, more feather-smoothing, less candid demeanor.
Steinbrenner believed in conducting Yankee internal business, especially his feuds with manager Billy Martin and slugger Reggie Jackson, in the headlines. These were glory days for New York’s tabloid newspapers because the Yankees were always making news.
In contrast, the O’Malleys strove to maintain a facade of corporate unity. Occasionally, some news would slip out from behind the PR screen because it was too juicy to keep covered up, such as Steve Garvey and Don Sutton having a locker-room fistfight. But mostly the Dodgers managed to keep their employees from gossiping to reporters.
Which corporate strategy is better I still don’t know. Steinbrenner, for all the chaos and conflict, was ultimately successful at getting his Yankees to dethrone the upstart Dodgers and take back their traditional roost as the preeminent baseball franchise. Steinbrenner, like Trump, had a remarkable ability to endure and even be energized by friction on the largest possible scale.
The Steinbrenner strategy, however, probably works best when junior staffers like Miller stick to an O’Malleyite philosophy of their own role as making the boss successful rather than leaking to the press whenever they get in an argument with other staffers.
Miller prudently stays on good terms with Jared Kushner, keeps out of the ridiculous Russia brouhaha, and focuses on helping Trump live up to his potential.
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