When I began this column, we were after the Bannon breakdown and Wolff book, just after the President’s on camera White House roundtable discussing immigration, and before his Thursday comments and the two porn stars. Yes, there were two porn stars.
It is a pretty damning indicator of just how farcical this Presidency is when we are not even to the one year point and stories of two separate adult film stars having alleged sexual relationships with the President while he is married are the throw off items in a one week news cycle. My first efforts were about the President’s plans, or lack thereof, to deal with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But we have moved on to certain holes, mostly of the President’s own digging.
Senator Dick Durbin says the President used that word (my children may avoid my social media feeds save Instagram, but they read my columns so you will have to excuse my refusal to use that word). Senator Tim Scott says Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed the President used that word. President Trump tweeted a denial that he said it about Haiti. Jake Tapper of CNN reports people in the room said the President actually did not say it about Haiti, but that he did say it about the African nations.
Curiously, Senator David Perdue and the Secretary of Homeland Security had no memory of the President using that word. They just did not recall it. Then they recalled that the President did not say it. Now they have moved on to believing the President ended the “S” word with “house,” not “hole,” which is how they have chosen to convince themselves they are not lying.
That is all very curious because I personally spoke with someone the President called overnight Thursday. The purpose of the call was to gauge the reaction of the base on the comment. I am told the President expected it to play well, which is probably why the White House’s allies doubled down overnight to affirm that what the President said was true and everybody knows it is true. This would also explain why a story that came out during business hours at the White House and would obviously be the biggest story of the day, leading all the news networks’ coverage for that evening, saw no significant White House reaction, including no denial.
Only after the hosts on Fox & Friends Thursday morning suggested the President made a mistake with his words and should walk it back did the President tweet that he did not say it about Haiti. Only later in the day did White House staff start denying it. And only later did Senator Perdue and others suddenly have a memory lapse. Of course, there is a new certainty in the land beyond death and taxes. It is that within a day or so President Trump will do, say, or tweet something else extraordinary causing the American press and public attention to careen away from the one folly to the next. Eventually, should the various follies fail to distract, our reality television President will perhaps offer up Jared Kushner as a sacrificial lamb or finally go shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, as he says he could and get away with it. There will always be a distraction.
Oddly enough, the actual hole remark is not, or should not be, the controversial part. There actually are some pretty terrible places on the planet. You nor I would want to live there and the people there are trying to escape. The President was just stating a fact in that regard. The problem is that he thinks those people do not make good immigrants. In fact, they do. African immigrants to the United States have a higher rate of college degrees than Americans. The children of those immigrants have an even higher rate.
Unfortunately for conservatives like me, this whole farce undermines the accomplishments of this Presidency. It is harder and harder to champion a sound policy, like tax reform, regulatory reform, or even some stellar judicial picks because they are all tainted by the man whose signature is on the paperwork. We live in an age of personality. During the Obama years, as the press questioned and probed that Administration and conservatives badgered Obama’s legacy, liberal Americans suddenly decided it was time to curtail the First Amendment.
With Trump’s arrival into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, most liberals excepting those on college campuses have doubled down on the defense of the First Amendment as President Trump and his supporters spend time daily assaulting the amendment. Consequently, sound conservative public policy is polluted by association with farce. Long and commonly held American views on free markets are suddenly not very commonly shared because of Donald Trump. Long and commonly held American views on the free press are crumbling just as views on the free exercise of religion began crumbling under the last President.
Our increasing national affection for cults of personality will affect the conservative agenda moving forward on issues like life, the second amendment, and individualism itself. As the President wraps himself in those issues, many Americans will connect them to the farce. Ironically, perhaps this will get us somewhere on immigration. As the President has wrapped himself in nationalist, isolationist rhetoric, perhaps a majority of Americans will do the right thing and let the DACA recipients stay. To align with the President on this now is to be perceived as aligning with bigotry. I suspect we will see a flood of people repelled by the President’s follies who will connect strident opposition against the Dreamers to farce. Taking that issue off the table before the midterm elections would be prudent for Republicans. But they will not be able to escape the farce, only the forgettable follies forgotten only because of daily deluge of subsequent follies.