Like the National Review before them, The Federalist is tired of the media paying attention to the words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth (“It’s Time To End The Trump Media Circus And Get Back To Public Policy For Grown-Ups,” The Federalist, 1/17/2018):
Is Trump wrong if he said what has been reported? Yes, he’s wrong. But I have to tell you that I question the policy seriousness of the person who took a comment from a meeting intended for negotiation and made a media circus out of it. Our immigration laws affect real people every day. We (and potential immigrants) deserve something so much better than cable news fodder.
But the author, Hunter Baker, doesn’t question the seriousness of Donald Trump—the president who is supposed to be leading the negotiations—when he makes the flippant, arrogant, vulgar, derogatory, and racist remark that certain countries are “shitholes.” If Trump didn’t treat his presidency the same way he treated his reality television show The Apprentice, maybe there wouldn’t be comments like this that show his unseriousness and ignorance. Maybe if the GOP, its voters, and its satellite media outlets (like The Federalist) wanted serious policy on immigration, they wouldn’t have helped elect the guy who constantly led chants of “build the wall” at political rallies. Just saying.
Whatever you think of Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin or the proposed legislation itself, they were working on a bipartisan bill that would have a little give and take, a little compromise. It wouldn’t be the Republicans attempting to ram through a bill by barely scraping enough votes together to pass it through the senate.
But it appears that right-wing immigration hardliners were trying to interfere and sabotage the bill, thus deflating the ability to create constructive policy. People like Stephen Miller or Tom Cotton aren’t really interested in making deals. If there’s going to be serious policy, people like them can’t be involved.
The real heart of the matter, though, is that words have meaning. This is probably hard for Baker to understand (and it’s clearly impossible for Trump to understand), but the words Trump uses—whether in public or private—have real-world consequences. If Trump uses the n-word in private and it’s leaked to the press and corroborated by several witnesses, it wouldn’t be a “media circus” to talk about it. Know why? Because it would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt (although I think it’s been proved already) that Trump is a racist. It would mean that we know definitively that he cannot govern for African American citizens fairly. It would mean that he views them as sub-citizens. A call like Baker’s for their to be “public policy for grown-ups” in spite of the president’s remarks would ring hollow, because they would be.
And the same is true when Trump calls certain countries “shitholes” and thinks being a white Norwegian is itself a qualifying characteristic for immigration. It shows he is not serious about the subject, that he does not know anything about the subject, and it reveals how he views the rest of the world. To say that those who react to Trump’s words are more to blame for the halt in negotiations than the man who uttered them is dishonest.