One of the primary themes of “Fire and Fury” was the internal dissension in the White House between Steve Bannon and Jarvanka (Jared Kushner and Ivanka). The dissension was both personal and over policy.
While Bannon was in the White House, most policy decisions favored him. Bannon called Jarvanka “democrats” and they did favor more moderate positions on social issues and the Paris Accord. Bannon is gone and pretty much banished, even purged from the Brietbart organization as the alt-right news organization funded by the Mercer family has now aligned with Trump in ostracizing Bannon. In other words, the power structure within the White House has now changed.
I do not believe that the White House proposal on immigration announced last week would have happened with Bannon still there. I am surprised that it happened with Stephen Miller still there, which to me shows that Jarvanka has now emerged as the strongest influence on the president on policy. Miller is a rabid ideologue but unlike Bannon has managed to remain just a notch or two below the radar relative to Bannon who cooked his own goose with too high a public profile by sometimes casting a partial shadow on Trump.
Trump is not ideological but transactional. There are things that he wants like a wall along Mexico and he is willing to put things in play to achieve his goals. He knows that the wall along Mexico falls far short of having enough support in Congress.
Not even GOP Congressional leaders support the full scope of the wall that the President has proposed. The president has promised a wall to his base and he intends to deliver on that promise. There are some things that he promises that the failure to achieve he can blame on others such as repeal and replace. Yet he cannot fail on everything and needs something to reinforce his success on tax cuts. He also promised that Mexico would pay for the wall which promoted great anger south of the border.
I understand the anger but it may not have been the best way to manage Trump. They would have been better off saying that they may talk about it based on the outcome of NAFTA re-negotiation. Trump is transactional and Mexico needs to learn that there is an art to the deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sucked up personally to the president and we will see if that gets Canada anything. The Saudis realized that the way to curry favor with Trump was to stroke his oversize ego and they threw a $75 million party for the President when he visited, designed to impress the heck out of him. They reportedly succeeded. So did the Chinese similarly. They rolled out the reddest carpet ever for his state visit and they bought themselves some good will, at least for a time with it. Mexico did the opposite of all of this and they likely dug themselves a hole.
Trump wants a wall to fulfill his campaign promise to his base and if all things are equal he is not going to get it. Therefore, he has to create support for the wall. . . like trading something for it. There is no interest in spending $25-45 million on the southern border in the guise of security so that Trump can brag to his base about building the wall. So, to get the wall, things cannot be equal. He has to shake things up to find something in which he can acquire leverage from. DACA was taken hostage for that purpose but he decided that not even DACA was going to be enough to get him congressional support for the wall.
There is great political risk for Republicans in not doing DACA. The vast majority of Americans support it considering it fair and humane even if opposed by the core base. Failure to re-instate DACA would have negative political ramifications for the GOP. Failure to build the wall would have negative ramifications for Trump. Therefore he needed to add a sweetener to the deal in order to break down political resistance to the wall and what could he offer for that?. . . A path to citizenship for nearly 2 mln dreamers. DACA and a path to citizenship is going to be enough to cause those in opposition to the wall to re-evaluate that opposition. Is it worth the wall? It may well be.
Anything dealing with immigration reform with a chance to be enacted is going to have to be bipartisan in the Senate where 60 votes will be needed. It is not going to be a GOP bill with only Republicans passing it. It is going to be a compromise. . . something Trump supposedly has a reputation for, but we have yet to have seen materialize. Maybe this is it? This compromise offered by the President is possible first, because it would be supported by Jarvanka and he owes them something after putting them through having to battle with Bannon, which was not pleasant for them.
Next, I think that his proposal on immigration is more evidence than any cognizance test in his physical at Bethesda, that he is not nuts. I think it is well triangulated. Both extremes on the immigration front hate it, which is to be expected. Otherwise it would not require a compromise. The alt-right hates it because it offers both DACA and a path to citizenship which is heresy to them. The idea of funding a wall makes the left throw up on their shoes. That probably means that it is a pretty good starting point to get to a deal. That deal is going to find a majority in the middle with both extremes still hating it or not.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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