It seems every time European elites get a good laugh out of a presidential tweet, sooner rather than later, the joke is on them.
In June, President Trump, though without the caps-lock and employing just one exclamation mark, tweeted that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership,” as Merkel’s open-borders policy smashed on the rocks of reality.
President Trump continued. Making the most of Twitter’s ineffable decision to double the helping of drivel its inmates can lavish upon the rest of us, he tweeted: “Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”
First, there was predictable outrage. Textbook. And then the faux-laughs. Against Merkel? Liberal Germany cried tears of rage at the Bad Orange Man.
The final nail was Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) on Sunday flouncing to its worst showing in the Western state election of Hesse since 1966. Both the CDU and its coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), sunk 10 points since last time.
Just weeks ago, her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) got trounced in state parliament elections, dislodging its absolute and decades-long majority. Trump’s truculence turned out to be the truth.
It was once the sleepiest job in Europe. Germany, until recently, the bastion of liberal centrism. But Merkel’s decision to throw open the borders to 1.5 million people frayed the obsessive tolerance of German citizens, even leading to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) forming the official opposition.
Trump in June read the public mood better than those busy screenshotting his hyperactive tweets for their friends to gawp at. He tweeted:
We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
Merkel’s demise has been on the boil for some time. And no doubt, President Trump will paint the news as vindication of his tough immigration stance.
After all, immigration killed Merkel. Opening the door to 1.5 million refugees since 2015 turned out to be a colossal miscalculation and a lurid example populist parties of all stripes have used as a case study in what utopian policies look like in reality.
Indeed, Trump also said in July that Merkel was once “unbeatable,” proclaiming her a fallen “superstar” before soothsaying her current predicament.
Merkel’s departure plays into Trump’s hands. The thousands-strong caravans snaking from Central America toward the southern U.S. border provide the president with near-perfect optics for his tough immigration talk. His spiritual nemesis in Berlin is undone, albeit slowly, and there are one-and-a-half million reasons why. Trump has won.
And perhaps he will tweet himself giddy. Immigration, in Europe and the United States, is the issue. Immigration hardliners now control swathes of the continent—Italy, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Populists almost won in Sweden. The historically-noisome Front National scooped up one-third of the French vote. Immigration, no matter what skittish British commentators may claim, won Brexit.
Indeed, Merkel’s self-flagellation serves succor for what is billed as Trump’s tub-thumping immigration “hardline.” Well, it may be branded as such, but most Americans agree with the president’s immigration stance. And 75 percent of Republican voters recently told pollsters that illegal immigration is a “very important issue.”
Adding to that, immigration is the top concern of voters in every country in the European Union. It really is the immigration, stupid.
That’s why Democrats are terrified of the images of thousands of Central Americans inviting themselves to the southern border playing out on TV screens between now and the midterms—when uncontrolled immigration is front and center Democrats are clamped to a corpse.
Given the gift of Merkel’s malady, President Trump can now steer minds back toward the caravan. Indeed, U.S. officials announced Tuesday the deployment of 5,000 troops to the southern border. Barring a disaster no one of sound mind would welcome, the optics should fire Republicans over the midterms finish line as independents and moderates consider the idea of a nation with borders to be a sensible and necessary one.
Democrats, meanwhile, are doped up on the Merkel Malady, telling pollsters that illegal immigration was the least of their top 18 concerns for the country.
We can only guess what will happen when the Democrats’ blue wave turns into a risible dribble. They should take a quick look at Ms. Merkel.
Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images