Terry H. Schwadron
Oct. 9, 2017
Donald Trump sees himself as a dealmaker. Fine.
Step One for a deal maker is the ability to take a position, stick with it and adapt as other voices are heard. After all, the deal is the thing, right?
So, when Donald Trump met with Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer of the Senate and Nancy Pelosi of the House and they emerged to say there was general agreement on extending valid visas to Dreamers with a path towards eventual residency and citizenship status, you hold Trump to that goal. The rest — the status of extended family, the actual pathways noted and the procedures — those are the things that adapt along the way.
Part of the agreement was a decision not to attach proposals for a Wall on the southern border to the proposal.
Predictably, this announced arrangement drew some blowback from the most conservative elements of the Trump bloc, but generally, majority Republicans, from Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on down, seemed generally okay, though they objected to the President meeting with Democrats without them in the room.
Last night, White House releasesd principles that demand that Congress block thousands of children fleeing Central American violence before Trump will agree to protect Dreamers. And he will insist on financing for a Wall. The Times said the demands are included in a list of legislative priorities for tougher immigration enforcement due for release this week.
So, just to review here, a month ago, Trump suddenly acted to overturn an Obama-era executive order allowing Dreamers, those who were brought in under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and immediately put 800,000 individuals and their families at risk. There was no urgency for the move; it had been a campaign promise. Then Trump met with the Democratic leaders and changed his mind, and spoke publicly several times about the proud contributions of these Dreamers, who include people who are in our armed forces, hold jobs, pay taxes and are required to obey U.S. laws.
Others will focus on the politics of all this maneuvering, generally following the line that this plays to the Steve Bannon-Steve Miller advocates in the White House orbit, and holding to a strict immigration position.
For me, though, this is yet another example of simple poor behavior. This is the dealmaker who cannot make a deal because no one can trust his word. Simply, if he wanted a different result here, he should just have said so at the time he made the “deal.”
Besides the fact that this once again will threaten a specific deal over the Dreamers and inhumanely put their lives at risk all over again, the larger takeaway here is that this is the same Trump on whose word we are dependent in dealing with the North Koreans and Iranians over nuclear weapons development, over health care for all Americans, over promises of prosperity and vows to help the middle class with tax cuts aimed at them. This is the same Trump whom our allies in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa find frankly un-trustable, the same Trump whom the Chinese find plain old confusing, and whom even Russia sees as speaking with more than one tongue.
For months now, we’ve been hearing that Trump is a situational thinking, that he reacts quickly and viscerally rather than really relying on staff to help think through sustainable policy. Nevertheless, this turnabout on DACA strikes me as exactly why I remain extremely nervous from day to day.
It is not just a single issue, a single deal, at risk here. In interviews yesterday, Trump tossed off the poor reactions to him showing up very briefly in Puerto Rico where he mostly praised himself and then humiliatingly, tossed packages of paper towels to victims of the hurricane. “It was just a thing,” said Trump, indicating that the appearance on the island was a meaningless PR photo opportunity — that, surprisingly or not, turned sour. We were supposed to believe he cared, but once again, his actions belied his intentions.
In the same interview, he said his attention was on national security and safety concerning North Korea and Iran, and he could not be bothered thinking about “people’s knees and backs” being underwritten by a national health care policy. Again, he is showing us he is less than trustworthy. Meanwhile, his actions show that he is actively undercutting health care offered through Obamacare. Ironically, the adjacent television news story concerned shooting victims in Las Vegas who lack health insurance and are worried about paying for medical treatment.
Here’s the deal, 45: You want success as a dealmaker. Bring more than your swagger. Bring your trust.