|Professional billionaire's girlfriend Melania Knauss pictures herself as First Lady in 2000 photo from Talk Magazine, via The Guardian.|
The president you get when you just let Trump talk and the presidency Trump keeps getting talked into are very different beasts.— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) February 6, 2019
And 14 seconds ago Trump finally became president. Oops, that finished fast!
His presidency is like one of those synthetic radioactive elements with a half-life so short only the most sensitive instruments can tell you it was there at all. Or alternatively this beloved journalist story of Trump's essential innocence and willingness to help the people, if only corrupt Washington hirelings would let him break out from the strictures they place on him, needs to be put to sleep forever.
I know how I vote. Trump doesn't have ideas. He has sentences that he likes, because he feels they make him sound attractive. Some of them sound as if they come from the "left". Remember when he was competing for the Reform Party nomination in 1999 and told reporters he wanted to retire the national debt with a one-time net-worth tax of 14.25% on fortunes of $10 million or more? Remember when he said his tax reform would "get the hedge fund guys"? He's been promising to solve the Israel-Palestine issue for decades, but when he gets a chance to try, he assigns the task to his son-in-law who literally does not know the Palestinian people exist. He's frequently claimed he'd like to eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth but has just trashed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty in a way that is more or less guaranteed to start a new arms race. This isn't because he's "changed his mind" about nuclear weapons, but because the new move also makes him sound attractive: he gets to complain about how Russia has cheated all the presidents except for him and show that he's "tough on Russia" (I share the widespread view that Putin isn't feeling at all punished by the development).
Does he contradict himself? Very well then, he contradicts himself! But he doesn't mean one side of these dilemmas more than the other side, at least unless he's personally involved in some way (I expect with the "hedge fund guys" he ended up favoring the interests of his own $85-million investment).
There's nothing new in his saying he's in favor of legal immigration. It's been an extremely important part of the rhetoric to insist that he has nothing against them, recognizes that American is a land of immigrants, etc., etc. He's not a racist! He objects to the people he objects to only because they're breaking the law! The whole movement talks the same way, and it's completely clear in the words Stephen Miller or whoever wrote for him for last night's performance (with the improvised words in brackets):
This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country [in the largest numbers ever], but they have to come in legally.But he's against it at the same time, and nobody can say he was talked into it against his natural inclination, if you see the venom he puts into inveighing against "chain migration" (clearly unaware or unconcerned that some of his wives' families have practiced it under his patronage), or denouncing would-be immigrants from "shithole countries".
Nobody talks Trump into anything. Bannon or Miller or Sessions (whose most malevolent thoughts are still alive in the DOJ months after he left it) may provide the words he's too lazy to produce for himself, but they aren't changing his mind any more than anybody else. He's just completely happy to be a schmuck.