This week saw Donald Trump and his administration surprise a lot of people, contradicting himself on some important previous positions and even breaking a few of his biggest campaign promises.
When Trump campaigned against Hillary, one of his big-league promises was to get rid of corruption. You remember “Drain the swamp,” don’t you? And he declared he’d start the drainage with appointing a special prosecutor to investigate crimes committed by Hillary Clinton. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Almost immediately after winning the election, Trump dropped the notion of prosecuting Hillary like yesterday’s fishing-bait, sending his surrogates out to let his supporters down gently. Chants of “lock her up,” didn’t get replaced by “help her heal,” as Kellyanne Conway put it, but to date, the Trump administration has not seriously pursued this promise and his supporters have let him. Sure, he brings up the idea on Twitter now again, usually to hang in front of his base to distract them from some of his other nonsense, or to pin on his recently ill-favored Attorney General, but there has been no movement on this issue from the President since being sworn in. Now, Trump’s reticence to prosecute corruption has extended to the other big gator in Swamp Washington: Lois Lerner
You may remember Lois Lerner, former Obama head of the IRS’ exempt organization division, from when she came out to admit to the public that, Whoopsy, the Obama IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. You can read some of those details of that here, but in short, the IRS had been weaponized to go after President Obama’s enemies, in an unconscionable abuse of power worthy of a banana republic. While Lerner initially downplayed the systemic nature of these crimes against the American people, it quickly became apparent how widespread the abuse was. And when she was eventually called to testify before Congress, she pled the fifth. Well, this week, the Trump DOJ denied a request from Republicans to reopen the case against her. Let me be clear: Donald Trump is taking a pass on investigating one of the most brazen examples of corruption and abuse of power by a presidential administration in our lifetime, confirmation of the belief that the law doesn’t apply to the powerful! And, I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t end there!
A big focus of the GOP presidential campaign was immigration. Trump hammered candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and even Ted Cruz (for crying out loud) as not being tough enough on immigration, “vowing to deport every last one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.” In addition to the famed border wall (that still isn’t funded), a key part of this promise was ending Obama’s illegal amnesty, which Trump called, “one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a President.” Well, as of last week, it looked like Trump was preparing to actually keep that promise.
Without getting into the merits of the goal of Obama’s executive order (or lack thereof) concerning the so-called dreamers, let’s stipulate that: 1) it was done unconstitutionally, an example of the executive usurping of legislative powers, and as such needed to go; and 2) Trump promised his supporters he would do just that. However, after more than half a year of Trump continuing the illegal program, nothing had been done to end it until last week, where it was announced that, due to the program’s unconstitutionality, it would end… sort of. Being threatened with a lawsuit from multiple state’s attorneys general (led by Ken Paxton of Texas), Trump was forced to deal with DACA, however, what Trump wanted was not to get rid of it, but for the Congress to make it legal, giving amnesty to over 800,000 illegal aliens while punting responsibility for it away from the President. As if that wasn’t bad enough, later Trump hinted in a tweet that if Congress didn’t give the dreamers amnesty he might reinstate the Obama-era policy his administration just declared unconstitutional! Now we’re hearing that Trump promised Nancy Pelosi that he’d sign the Dream Act when congress delivers it to him! Do you think for a second that Trump’s campaign promise to end this Obama-era policy was taken by his supporters to mean “make DACA the law of the land?” Absolutely not! But that is what Trump is aiming at, and in doing so (make no mistake) he is doing exactly what the GOP and Democrat leadership want him to do. However, for some reason, Trump is given latitude for doing what the GOP base rejected Bush and Rubio over.
The Debt Ceiling and Bad Deals with Democrats
One of the most crucial problems that our country faces is the existential threat of its massive debt. With around $20 trillion on our tab and hundreds of trillions soon to come due through our unfunded mandates, the U.S. economy is likely to collapse under the strain. Yet, instead of trying to come up with a plan to eliminate the deficit, reform entitlements, and reduce the national debt (necessary steps for the survival of the Union), Trump instead wants to expand the debt, and held hostage Hurricane Harvey relief for Texas in order to get it done. Thankfully, some Republicans would not take the bait, voting against it, but with the President’s new Democrat alliance, it didn’t make a difference and the bill passed anyway.
Now, I’m aware that Trump has taken contradictory stances on the national debt, and so it’s hard to pin him down on his real commitment to that issue, however he did give some indication that he would deal with it. It is an altogether different matter when it comes to raising the debt ceiling, for he was very specific. In a 2013 tweet, Donald Trump harangued Republicans for making a bad deal with the Democrats to raise debt ceiling for only four months, calling it “Pathetic!” So, what did he do? Trump goes and makes an even worse deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to raise it for only three months, ensuring that this will remain a campaign issue for Democrats to rail against congressional Republicans in 2018. Additionally, he un-ironically celebrated his pathetic deal, talking about how “happy” everyone was, this while Trump sycophants like Lou Dobbs pretended that Trump was playing some larger game of “4D under water Hungry Hungry Hippos” (thanks Ben Shapiro) rather than making a horrible and thoughtless mistake. Wasn’t Trump was elected to at least stop the ridiculous capitulation to congressional Democrats, such as what we complained about under Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, let alone advance it? And while not the only example of this in his administration, this particular deal should once and for all explode the myth of Trump being a great negotiator, firmly defining him as an impulsive reactionary, with little ideological compass.
Trump was elected in earnest hopes that he would be the no-nonsense outsider that would finally get the necessary things done that the politicians hitherto couldn’t, saving the Union, and making America great again. However, that is not what he has delivered on, so far. As the anniversary of his election approaches, he has no major legislative accomplishment (including failing to repeal Obamacare), and for every small positive victory of his White House, there are too many substantive failures (like the last budget that failed to appropriate funding for a border wall, but funded Planned Parenthood). Whether you blame Trump for this abject failure, Ryan & McConnell, or the deep state, the fact is that much of what President Trump (our supposed greatest shot at fixing Washington) has done is little different than what a President Hillary would have done. Trump and has leadership have made small impact on the self-destructive course of the Union; that should fortify the contention that Washington is irredeemable, and that Texas independence is the only way we will see a restoration of the proper role of government.
In all of these reckless political decisions, the question remains, “Why is Trump doing this, taking such a risk in repelling his base?” In the final analysis, Trump is betraying the promises he made to his supporters for a few reasons: his heart wasn’t really in those promises (that he was just saying what he thought his followers wanted to hear); he feels switching now will bring him love from Democrats, which (as a New Yorker) he probably more identifies with; and ultimately Trump thinks that he’ll get away it, figuring his supporters have no other place to go or that they’re too stupid to notice or care that he’s stabbing them in the back. This week, more so than any previous in Trump’s administration, every Trump supporter should be asking themselves, “Is he right about me? Am I the schmuck Trump thinks I am?” For make no mistake, while we merely console ourselves with “At least he’s not Hillary,” he has no motivation to change from his course of betrayal.