While I maintain that the first week of the Trump Administration gives conservatives much to be happy with, it was also a bit rockier than it should have been. Much of that rockiness had to do with speed, not Trump. It is time to slow down the Trump train because they are making a series of unforced errors, mistakes, and problems, all of which may be compounded today or tomorrow by a new Supreme Court nominee.
First, they refused to recognized Jews killed in the Holocaust when recognizing the Holocaust. When called out on that oversight, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks released one of the stupidest statements to ever come out of anything related to Trump: “Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.” So they’re being inclusive by not doing the very simple, uncontroversial part of name-checking the group most likely to die in the Holocaust?
That was an unforced, idiotic error that generated reams of negative headlines that could have been easily avoided.
Then there is the immigration ban. I support it. It is not anti-Muslim. It targets a half-dozen countries previous administrations have listed as being suspect for immigration, but it exempted persecuted religious minorities. It makes a lot of sense. It was also rushed. It confounded American corporations as to its extent. It did not provide exemptions for American collaborators in those affected countries. The Administration did not adequately brief and educate the Executive Branch on its implications, so immigration officers were left confused. Objectively, the Administration did not draft a clear, easily understood executive order. The Justice Department, State Department, Defense Department, and Homeland Security Department did not review it in advance of its release or give any input into its drafting.
On top of all that, White House staff, over the objections of the few who were consulted, decided to not add an exemption for green card holders from the affected countries. Late Sunday, Secretary Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security had to order green card holders be let into the country. The whole situation was an avoidable SNAFU.
Compounding injury, Mike Flynn, Jr., the son of Trump’s advisor and head of the National Security Council, referred to the “Muslim ban” on Twitter. General Flynn, the advisor, had previously tweeted an anti-Semitic tweet, which compounds the unforced error of the first problem.
President Trump’s immigration policy is not much different from a similar policy imposed by President Obama in 2011 against immigrants from Iraq. It stands in start contrast to President Obama returning Cuban refugees to their deaths in Cuba. It has a legal basis and the countries listed are countries listed by Barack Obama, not Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the White House staff did not coordinate a response to defend the initiative by giving anyone any of these talking points. In fact, the White House provided no guidance or clarity about the situation at all and every statement they did make confused the situation further.
The result of the confusion, chaos, and mixed messages is Republicans in Congress openly calling for the President to rescind it, organized protests at major airports, and a group of people unable to defend what they would have gladly defended. The executive order is not a Muslim ban, and it is defensible.
Again, all this created a host of easily avoidable, unforced errors.
The Trump Team knows most of the media is out to get them and even many of those on the right who might be willing to defend them remain skeptical (yours truly, included). Slowing things down would be best. The White House staff could have avoided all of these unforced errors. The reactions were easily foreseeable and in many cases overshadowed very sound policy. The President is about to, again, walk into a potential buzz saw over the Supreme Court nominee, which ABC News is reporting could come today or, more likely, tomorrow and is down to Neil Gorsuch or Thomas Hardiman.
President Trump lost the popular vote. The Democrats only have to persuade small numbers of people in several key swing states to move in their direction in four years. The fewer unforced errors Donald Trump makes, the harder the Democrats’ task becomes as Trump will not only lock down his base but add to it. Slow down the Trump Train, Mr. President.