Monday, January 22, 2018


If you believe that President Trump has no idea what he's doing with regard to immigration, and that aides are pushing him to do things he doesn't want to do, Maggie Haberman wants you to know that you're naive.

So I guess she believes the authors of this New York Times story are extremely naive. The authors are Julie Hirschfeld Davis and ... Maggie Haberman.
... twice over the past two weeks, Mr. Trump has privately told lawmakers he is eager to strike a deal to extend legal status to the so-called Dreamers, only to have his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, make clear afterward that such a compromise was not really in the offing — unless it also included a host of stiffer immigration restrictions.

As the government shutdown continued for its second day on Sunday, one thing was clear to both sides of the negotiations to end it: The president was either unwilling or unable to articulate the immigration policy he wanted, much less understand the nuances of what it would involve.

... Each time Mr. Trump has edged toward compromise with Democrats, he has appeared to be reined in by his own staff, which shares the hawkish immigration stance that fueled his campaign.
So Haberman tells us that Trump exactly what he's doing, which is contradicted by the reporting of Davis and, um, Haberman.

I don't think this is mysterious.

Trump has a few half-formed political ideas. Most of them are knuckle-draggingly right-wing, but a couple aren't. One of the latter is that the Dreamers are "these incredible kids" who should be allowed to stay in America. (The quote comes from Davis and Haberman's story.)

But Trump also likes to hire thugs such as Kelly and Miller -- I bet he calls them "killers," and he regards it as a supreme compliment. The killers are ideologically consistent. On immigration, Trump isn't. Trump wants a wall. So do the killers. Trump wants a DACA deal. The killers don't.

Haberman (in her tweets) says Trump doesn't want to alienate his base -- even though he's clear does that every time he speaks well of the Dreamers. He may believe that his base can tolerate a DACA deal. He knows that his favorite hosts on Fox don't like DACA, but the New York plutocrats he phones every day probably do. And some Republicans in Congress do, even though others, like Tom Cotton, obviously don't. (And they seem like killers.) So confusing!

If Trump can be a racist immigration hardliner and still favor a DACA deal, he must assume that his fellow Republicans similarly find these two positions compatible. He can't square the circle -- presidenting is hard! -- so he tells congressional Republicans it's their job. CNN reports:
In phone calls on Sunday, Trump encouraged Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the No. 2 Republicans in the Senate and House, to reach an agreement with Democrats. But as he did at the end of last week, he stressed they should come to him with a deal instead of offering his own ideas for a way out, according to a person familiar with the calls.
And if a deal comes, the killers will tell him it's bad, and he'll agree with them, because they're killers and he likes killers. And we'll be back where we started.

This isn't strategic brilliance on Trump's part. He's not faking DACA support while letting the killers be the bad guys. As a rule, he's happy to be the bad guy. But on DACA, he's not the bad guy (or at least not the worst guy). So they step in. And he defers to them and goes back to watching television.

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