Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Today I saw this headline and thought, mistakenly, that Jamelle Bouie would be making an argument he didn't actually make.

In the column, Bouie explains why Trump can use border agents as his goon squad in Portland:
The reason Customs and Border Protection can be used to police a protest in Portland is, for example, because the Department of Homeland Security can supplement law enforcement from one agency with personnel from another.
He also notes that border agents tend to be rabidly pro-Trump:
As a candidate, Trump actively cultivated both the leadership and the rank-and-file of the border police and ICE. In turn, they gave him his support — unions for both agencies endorsed Trump for president. Under his leadership, these agencies have shown themselves to be deeply simpatico with the administration’s draconian approach to immigration at the southern border, with aggressive action against migrants, asylum-seekers and unauthorized immigrants.
I'd add that this fits Trump's management style: He likes having people do work they weren't hired or appointed to do. He's very fond of "acting" department heads (the head of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, is an "acting," and Wolf's deputy is Ken Cuccinelli, "whose official title," Bouie notes, "is 'Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.'"

But in fact, it's fitting that border agents are doing this work, because Trump regards Democratic-leaning cities as a foreign country -- as do most Republican voters. For years, the GOP base has believed that the "real" America consists solely of Republican enclaves -- everywhere else is a hostile nation. It's certainly not America. As far as Trump and his voters are concerned, the border agents in Portland are fighting a border war. Republicans don't want all that leftism to come across the border of their country.

Trump seldom hires smartly, but if he wants thugs for this particular war, he's employing exactly the right people.

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