The approach announced Tuesday by Attorney General Sessions today on the so-called “Dreamers” is archetypical behavior by Donald Trump. It encapsulates so many of his characteristics: lack of leadership, failure to have a clear policy, political ineptitude, failure to keep promises, complete disregard for the less-advantaged, failure to take responsibility, passing the buck, and, let’s not forget one of his favorites, trying to screw his ever-increasing list of perceived enemies. All that is missing is a sense of the personal corruption that imbues so much of his behavior.
DACA, of course, is the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy announced by Barack Obama to deal with a problem arising from the inability of Congress to enact legislation on immigration. It provided an avenue for children who were brought to this country by illegal immigrant parents to remain in the here. For many of these 800,000 “Dreamers,” America is the only country they have known.
The policy announced by the current Administration is that the program will end in six months, ostensibly to give Congress time to craft a law. In the 24 hours following the Session announcement, our President tweeted that the Dreamers should be wrapping up their affairs so they can leave within six months. Then he tweeted that he may revisit his policy if Congress doesn’t act within six months. You figure out what his position is.
That our President announces inherent and conflicting policies on Twitter is not new. He is someone for whom the 140-character limit is not a restraint on his deepest thoughts. But this roll-out is so typical of his presidency and its many failings.
First, there is no leadership. Not only do we not know what the actual policy is, but he abdicates responsibility for it by kicking it to Congress. It is reminiscent of his being the last person in America to realize health care is “so complicated,” and then deferring to Congress. Of course, someone born with the proverbial spoon may not ever had to confront an actual health care bill that someone else did not pay.
Second, and again as with Obamacare, there is no regard for the hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected by the chaos created through either callousness or ineptitude. Neither the millions losing health care nor the hundreds of thousands losing their home particularly care whether the President’s views are caused by hostility to them or just blatant incompetence.
Then we have the betrayal of campaign promises — again a similarity with his actions on health care. Trumpcare was never going to be better and less expensive than Obamacare, although there is no evidence he even knew what the components of the Congressional plans would be. (In fairness, when you have to fixate on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings, there is less time to stay informed on policy details.) When he said the Dreamers “have nothing to worry about,” that apparently did not include his efforts to deport them.
Fourth, there is the dumping on Congress responsibility for solving a long-simmering problem in a short time-span. I realize that for those Trump supporters not motivated by racist and bigoted policies, upending the established order in Washington was a major appeal. It’s hard not to agree, and immigration policy is as good an example of congressional dysfunction as exists. But the goal should be to reach solutions, not exacerbate the dysfunction. Throwing this on Congress’ lap when they are dealing with funding relief for Harvey (and, presumably, Irma), when there are fights over the debt limit and the budget can hardly be described as a sage move.
One suspects, however, that Trump is less concerned with getting things accomplished than lining up who can be blamed when things do not work out. We know he will not take responsibility for anything going wrong because he never has.
But now he can even the score with the Congressional leadership who he believes has not kowtowed to him, particularly on Russia. And he made Jeff Sessions announce the unpopular policy, speaking of someone who did not kowtow on Russia. Although, I suspect Sessions thrilled at announcing a policy that was in his wheelhouse, embracing the xenophobia and bigotry that are so close to his heart.
The bottom line is that we have a President who is afraid to announce a major policy that he supposedly embraces, and is leaving others to clean up the mess. Hopefully, he will not act similarly on North Korea now that he must be aware that China is not willing to be his surrogate.