Trump’s Weakness Revisited
Many immigration restrictionists feel sold out by Trump:
Donald Trump’s victory in November promised to give immigration hardliners the long-sought opportunity to pass legislation cracking down on immigration. But roughly eight months into his administration, many are feeling betrayed.
It will be interesting to see how many still-loyal Trump supporters give up on him after his latest reversal. Every president has a built-in floor of support that will never abandon him no matter how many times he fails or does something they don’t like. Even George W. Bush at his most despised retained the support of around two-thirds of Republicans, and that was after he had presided over major, costly debacles. Trump’s level of support will probably go even lower than that before his tenure is finished, but he will always have some apologists no matter what he does.
As Rod Dreher notes, some prominent Trump backers are now turning on him, but others remain as mindlessly devoted as ever. The former seem to be made up mostly of the pundits and radio hosts that imagined that Trump actually stood for something, and they believed that they knew what that something was. That was their mistake. They thought that his presidency represented a set of policies that they expected to be enacted, and when Trump has done something else at least some of them rebel. The die-hard supporters are probably more numerous but less vocal. They are sticking with a bad leader simply out of group or tribal loyalty, and that loyalty tends to be reinforced the more that Trump comes under attack from everyone else. The latter can’t be argued out of their support for Trump because they were never convinced by arguments in the first place. In the end, he will fail both groups because he can’t be trusted to do anything he says, and he is too incompetent to do anything else well.
What stands out to me in the latest news reports is how easily Trump was swayed into abandoning his earlier position. As I’ve observed before, this is a man who believes in nothing but himself, and he has no firm convictions, so he can manipulated by whomever he happens to be speaking with at the moment. He also craves approval and praise, and he is far more likely to get that from the mainstream press if he caves to the opposition. Consider how many preposterous stories about “Trump the independent” suddenly appeared in major news outlets because he agreed to the debt ceiling hike proposal. He gave his opponents a little of what they wanted, and just like that Trump was getting credit for supposedly up-ending the two-party system. If he thinks that switching to a slightly different immigration policy position will get him better coverage, that is what he’ll do because what he needs more than anything is affirmation and having his ego stroked by others. There are a few things to take away from this episode: 1) Trump generally doesn’t understand or care about policy substance; 2) he doesn’t feel any obligation to honor commitments he has made; 3) he will get rolled in any negotiation he enters into because all that interests him is the appearance of successful deal-making.