President Trump met with Republicans and Democrats yesterday to discuss the wall, DACA, and immigration reform. It was… interesting (“Trump Appears to Endorse Path to Citizenship for Millions of Immigrants,” New York Times, 1/9/2018):
President Trump on Tuesday appeared open to negotiating a sweeping immigration deal that would eventually grant millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, declaring that he was willing to “take the heat” politically for an approach that seemed to flatly contradict the anti-immigration stance that charged his political rise.
The president made the remarks during an extended meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats who are weighing a shorter-term agreement that would extend legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The 90-minute session — more than half of which played out on national television — appeared to produce some progress: Mr. Trump agreed to a framework for a short-term immigration deal to couple protection for young, undocumented immigrants with border security.
But in suggesting that a broader immigration measure was possible next, Mr. Trump was giving a rare public glimpse of an impulse he has expressed privately to advisers and lawmakers — the desire to preside over a more far-reaching solution to the status of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living and working in the United States. Passage of a comprehensive immigration law would give Mr. Trump success where Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush failed.
That would be pretty incredible, and it would be an actual accomplishment. The deplorables have been willing to follow Trump on everything else, but they really enjoyed chanting “Build the wall” at his rallies (and even though Trump never locked Clinton up, the DOJ might reopen its investigation into Clinton, so the hope is alive!), so this might be one of those rare instances when they don’t:
The push for an immigration deal with Democrats has the potential to alienate the hard-line anti-immigration activists who powered his political rise and helped him win the presidency, many of whom have described it as amnesty for lawbreakers. If he succeeds, it could be compared to Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China. Only an anti-Communist hard-liner could have made the opening acceptable to his supporters.
If he fails, it would be more like Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he suggested eliminating much of the United States and Soviet nuclear arsenal, a momentary glimmer of idealism that was crushed by a backlash from his own party.
And wouldn’t you know it, it doesn’t look like the hooligans over at Breitbart want any part of it:
Despite the implicit message in the photo of Trump next to Jeb Bush that Trump is cucking himself, if that’s even possible, the article itself doesn’t have much in the way of sly language that goes after him. If anything, it tries to paint the picture that Trump is doing what he has to in order to get funding for the wall—you know, being a deal maker.
But the weirdos in the comments aren’t having it:
I don’t know whether Trump going through with this would actually rupture his base. First, I don’t read Breitbart often enough to know whether similar instances in the past of Trump apparently compromising on something he promised raised the ire of the faithful enough to the point where they threatened to rescind their support—and even if they did make that threat, I don’t know how many later decided to keep supporting Trump because they found some way to rationalize his apparent betrayal in their lizard brains.
Second, although his base is solid, I don’t think it’s so large that alienating a few within would cause his already-poor polling numbers to decrease significantly. I also think Trump realizes that a move like this, although still unpopular with a lot of Democrats because of his insistence on wall funding, would be fairly popular, or at least a net positive, overall. If it goes through, he’ll get media praise from centrists like Chuck Todd or the op-ed conservative intellectuals in the New York Times and Washington Post for negotiating a tough bipartisan bill (regardless of how much credit he actually deserves, which I would place at a little above 0), and that’s all Trump really wants. And I think it might attract some conservatives who aren’t hardliners on immigration who have been previously turned off by Trump and his administration.
But who knows. This is Trump. By lunchtime he might say all illegal immigrants need to be thrown in a lake. I mean, he’s willing to deport 200,000 Salvadorans who were invited to the country in the wake of a devastating earthquake, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If I had to bet my money on it, I don’t think his base will go anywhere, at least not in significant numbers, so long as something resembling a wall gets funded.