So, yesterday morning, there was Trump, ranting again how this problem of taking children from their parents was all supposedly the Democrats' fault, and that there was nothing HE could do, that it wasn't a policy he himself created, but it was a law, so blame Democrats. And then just a few hours later, there he was, signing a policy statement reversing his policy. Actually caving to the massive political pressure his own party put on him, terrified that the 2018 Blue Wave would be a tsunami.
To be clear, the disastrous problem isn't remotely over. It's uncertain what the new policy actually cover and how long it will last. What's know is that it still incarcerates children and families, and that it does nothing to reunite families that it already ripped apart.
One other thing it doesn't do -- it doesn't erase from any sentient mind the reality that it was Trump who created this horrific policy in the first place. Arsonists don't get bonus points for putting out the fire they started.
Yes, Trump caved and signed some sort of reversal to his previous policy. Good. But what I wrote on Tuesday stands even louder today, that the bigger problem for Trump is "that this issue won't go away. You don't put spilled milk back in a broken bottle." --
"The public knows that he is the kind of person who CREATED THIS POLICY. He's the person in charge who thought, hey, this is just a grand idea. It's not the sort of thing people forget. No matter when or if the policy changes, Donald J. Trump ordered a policy to separate children from their parents. People do not forget that."
From his comments and previous (and subsequent) actions, I don't get the sense that Trump has any idea -- or concern -- how much his policy separating children and parents hurt America's standing in the world, especially now combined with a news story yesterday that got little attention -- that Trump actually, really, honestly withdrew the United States from the UN Human Rights Council. And it made us one of only four nations to do so -- with the others being Iran, North Korea and Eritrea. And no, I have no idea where or what Eritrea is. But I know when you're on a "No human rights" list with Iran and North Korea, that's not a good thing...
And when I saw that his subsequent actions after signing his apparent policy reversal show no concern for how he's damaged the United States' standing in the world, consider what was actually on his mind later that day, when he spoke on (I'm serious about this) Canadians supposedly smuggling new shoes bought in the U.S. in order to avoid paying tariffs. (Never mind that, as my friend Don Friedman pointed out, he probably meant "duties," which is another matter entirely.) Trump said, “They buy shoes and they wear ‘em. They scuff ‘em up to make ‘em sound old, or look old.”
Yes, really, this was a concern to him today. Of all days. As his immigration policy ripping apart families was becoming such a disaster to the Republican Party that he had to actually cave. His concern was scuffing shoes! With no certainty, of course, that what he was charging was even remotely true in the slightest. (Never mind that whole "tariff-duty" thing.) But for the sake of utterly-ludicrous argument, let's say it *was* true. That means that this was his trade war concern -- today. Of all days. On the day he was forced to reverse himself on an immigration policy that was putting babies (!) -- sorry, "tender age" children -- in detention centers. His concern was not America's standing in the world, but scuffing up shoes. AND...and if you are dealing with this as a "trade war" issue (dear Lord, I can't believe I'm writing about this...) and if you are smuggling shoes, as he himself says, by wearing them...You Can Only Smuggle One Pair At a Time!!!
So, no, I don't think I'm being hyperbolic or biased when I say that I don't sense Trump has any idea -- or concern -- about the damage he has caused to this nation's standing in the world. Along with withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council -- along with Iran, North Korea and that Eritrea thing.
By the way, not only was our UN Human Rights Council withdrawal lost in the news yesterday, but also lost in the news yesterday was that Michael Cohen quit his finance job with the RNC. But far more noteworthy about this is that Cohen, the former BFF to Trump, added to his resignation letter a scathing criticism of Trump's policy about...yes, you guessed it -- separating children from their parents. When Trump has lost Michael Cohen on anything, you know it was a Really Horrible Thing. And you also know that doesn't bode well for him with the whole Michael Cohen flipping in the Russia investigation thing.
So, yes, it was good that Trump caved and at least in some ways reversed his policy separating children from their parents. But make no mistake, it still was his policy. And it still isn't fixed. And Trump hasn't resolved the huge problem of reuniting families. And it won't be forgotten.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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