Looking back at the past year, the Year of Living Trumpantly, it’s clear to fair-minded individuals—that excludes the media and every other Democrat—that the Trump presidency has been a resounding success.
Many Republicans, even ardent Trump supporters, are pleasantly surprised. No one was really quite sure what they would be getting with Trump. After all, he hadn’t spent decades advocating conservative principles and solutions like a Ronald Reagan. At times, he could easily have been a stand-in for Bill Clinton or even, ugh, Barack Obama.
And then, one success after another.
Despite the praiseworthy achievements, conservatives again are worried about how the immigration issue will play out. Dreamers and DACA and chain migration, oh my! Will Trump cave on the most important of issues, the issue that propelled him into the White House?
His recently announced immigration plan, focusing on the so-called Dreamers, managed to give both the left and the right conniption fits. But maybe Republicans should cut Trump some slack. Making America great again is a tough job. And Trump’s doing it. So this should be the time for Great Trumpectations.
And yet…conservatives are currently in the throes of a peculiar neurosis, fearing nothing less than Armageddon—Republican style, as opposed to the Pelosi variant that occurs when the government confiscates less money from every American’s paycheck.
It’s a déjà vu kind of thing. All too often, a Republican giveth, and a Republican taketh away. It’s not like Trump has been hard at work burnishing his conservative credentials. He hasn’t embraced any of William Buckley’s mannerisms or gestures, and he even refuses to wear those black horn-rimmed Barry Goldwater eyeglasses. So how can we know for sure that he won’t give away the immigration store?
We can’t be sure. But let’s face it, there are no sure things. Even Ronald Reagan was rolled by Tip O’Neill and the Democrats, and tricked into raising some taxes in exchange for spending cuts. Those cuts never came. “Cuts, we don’t need no stinkin cuts,” was more or less O’Neill’s justification for not keeping his end of the bargain.
Delivering his State of the Union address, Trump spelled out his immigration plan. It was a Tale of Two Trumps, offering the best of deals and the worst of deals.
According to the President, everything rested on four pillars. “The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants,“ Trump said.
So right out of the gate, that first pillar looked awfully shaky. So “generous” an offer could only mean one thing: Trump was going wobbly. But as Trump continued and discussed the remaining pillars, you had the feeling that the first pillar would eventually get a seismic retrofit.
“The second pillar fully secures the border,” Trump stated. “That means building a wall on the Southern border. “
Yes. The wall. It was good to hear that Trump hadn’t given up on the big, fat, beautiful wall. But hearing the President talk about the wall can only give us pause. It’s been a year, and there’s no wall in sight. Sure, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. But at least the Romans could throw their opponents to the lions if they proved unreasonable. Trump doesn’t have the mandate for that. Not yet anyway.
And then Trump spoke about the two other pillars—and these are indeed big, fat, beautiful pillars: the visa lottery and chain migration. Trump intends to end them, not mend them.
So it’s clear sailing—except for assorted naval mines and depth charges planted by Democrats and their media acolytes. So how can the Trumptanic steer clear of these obstacles, stay on course, and shield his agenda from the Pirates of the Potomac?
Not a problem. When the going gets tough, Trump is adept at playing the Kasich card.
Yes, that Kasich. John Kasich. One of the many Republican nominee wannabes vanquished by Trump. Who can forget Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Low Energy Jeb? And Kasich. So inconsequential was Kasich, Trump couldn’t even be bothered to brand him with a nickname.
It’s a safe bet Trump never thinks of Rubio, Cruz or Bush. They’re losers, mere Babes in Trumpland. Why give them a second thought?
But Kasich, the biggest loser of them all, the one-hit wonder—winner only of his home state’s primary—is another story. As all the other more formidable contenders were abandoning their campaigns, Kasich refused to bow out. He was the annoyance that kept on annoying.
Trump never forgot all the Kasich connivances. And he also couldn’t forget that Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, was a very conspicuous no-show at the Republican convention in Ohio.
Sitting in the Oval Office shortly after becoming President, Trump began to grapple with the issues facing him. He didn’t look to Washington or to Lincoln for inspiration. How could they be of help when they never had to contend with fake news and pussy hat marches?
Determined to eschew the advice of the establishment “experts,” it made more sense for Trump to turn to someone he knew was always wrong—then go the other way. This was the Kasich card. And Trump played it. On issue after issue, Trump asked himself, “What would Kasich do?” Then he went the other way.
Even before his January 20th inauguration, Trump knew a momentous decision awaited him: Who to select to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court? Trump had promised to choose an originalist, someone conservatives would find to their liking. Nothing less than another Scalia.
With a majority in the Senate, Republicans could take comfort in knowing their nominee could not be Borked. This nominee would be immune to the Democrats predictable, and all too familiar, slings and arrows.
But Republicans have a habit of committing *Soutercide. And it’s never painless.
(*Soutercide: Choosing a Supreme Court Justice based on the recommendations of the Bush inner circle. This Justice, deemed to be a solid conservative, proceeds to vote with the most liberal justices in almost every case.)
A lot could still go wrong, and Trump was under enormous pressure to get it right. So—What would Kasich do?
Always the “moderate,” Kasich said he would consider nominating Obama’s spurned nominee, Merrick Garland. At the very least, Kasich urged Senate Republicans to meet with Garland, and hear him out.
Merrick Garland. Really! If Obama had his way, Garland would have taken his place alongside Sotomayor and Kagan, Obama’s two other august selections. You could get more reasoned and cogent Court decisions from just about any other threesome, including Moe, Larry, and Curly. And Kasich wanted give this man consideration. Any questions?
Not for President Trump. This was easy. A slam dunk. He just went the other way, and it was Hello Neil Gorsuch.
Paris Climate Accord
Another important decision made by Trump, more ceremonial than consequential, was what to do about the Paris Climate Accord unilaterally accepted by Obama. With no Senate ratification, it couldn’t really compel the U.S. to do much of anything. The accord vaguely spoke about adopting green energy sources, cutting down on climate change emissions, and limiting the rise of global temperatures. All that good stuff espoused by climate change fanatics. It was pure symbolism, but it put the U.S. on the side of all these global warming absolutists.
Trump never cared much for the global warming/climate change concept. “I believe in clean air. Immaculate air,” he once said. “But I don’t believe in climate change.”
Another time, Trump managed to ding Obama and dismiss global warming concerns in one fell swoop. Said Trump: “Obama said in his State of the Union that ‘global warming is a fact.’ Sure, about as factual as ‘if you like your healthcare, you can keep it.'”
But now, as the leader of the free world, with practically every other nation signing on to an agreement that promised to do nothing less than save the planet, Trump faced significant pressure to just keep on keeping on.
Well, what would Kasich do?
Kasich was on record as saying he believed climate change is real and that it’s a problem.
And concerning the Paris Accords, Kasich stated, “I know that climate change is real. It is a global issue and will need a global agreement to address.”
Again, Trump knew exactly how to respond. “The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” Trump announced.
Trump claimed the agreement was “negotiated poorly” and was too costly for the American people. He maintained that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not the citizens of Paris.”
Clearly, the Kasich card has worked out quite well. But is it enough to get Trump through the immigration debate?
Regarding the visa lottery and chain migration, Trump drew a line in the sand.
Previously, Trump used some colorful language to describe the countries providing us with visa lottery “winners.” And in his State of the Union, Trump said the visa lottery is “a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people.”
Surprised that Trump would take such an uncompromising stance? You wouldn’t be, if you asked “What would Kasich do?”
Kasich views these types of immigrants differently. “This is America,” he said. “We got a Statue of Liberty out there.”
Sorry Ms. Lazarus, but Trump has had it with the wretched refuse on our teeming shore.
“It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system,” said Trump. “One that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
That pretty much eliminates the type of people who James Carville might describe as Third World trailer trash.
Trump was equally resolute when it came to chain migration, “The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration,” Trump claimed. “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”
Right there, Trump nailed it. Somehow it became the rule, not the exception, to permit new immigrants to sponsor their closest relatives, most of their grade school classmates, and at least 100 of their favorite Facebook friends.
No doubt, Trump’s opposition to this policy had something to do with Kasich’s comments on how “the focus of immigration should be to keep families together.”
“Looking backward in an effort to break up law-abiding, contributing families is the wrong way to go,“ said Kasich. “Let’s secure the border and move forward.
Trump is still vulnerable on the handling of the Dreamers, those 1.8 million elephants in the room. He’s made them an offer. But it’s one that he might still refuse.
“Undocumented immigrants who otherwise follow the law should be allowed to gain a legal status,” proclaimed Kasich. “A path to citizenship may be part of compromise talks.”
What would have happened if Kasich stayed in Ohio, and never joined in on the debates? What would life be like if Trump never had asked “What would Kasich Do?”
We’ll never know. Just like we can’t be sure if an angel gets his wings when a bell rings.
But in the meantime, It’s A Trumperful Life.