This Snake Can’t Shed His Skin

“Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the serpent with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

The woman was aghast. “You promised you could be classy enough in the Oval Office to impress socialites from Palm Beach. But instead, you are surrounded by porn stars and Playboy bunnies — just a tacky leech.”

.. “It is just like when you promised a ‘bill of love’ to save the Dreamers. But you let that collapse in Congress because of Stephen Miller and the other alt-right schemers.”

.. The woman winced at the metallic taste in her mouth and rasped: “You could have gotten your crazy wall but insisted on ending chain migration, even when you took advantage of it to bring in Melania’s Slovenian parents. What an abomination!

The unending campaign of Donald Trump

If there was any doubt that his presidency is an unending campaign

.. Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president read “The Snake,” a parable about a tenderhearted woman who takes in an ailing snake and gives it milk, honey and a silk blanket, only to be killed by the revived creature’s poisonous bite.

Trump explained the metaphor: “You have to think of this in terms of immigration.”

.. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump frequently told the tale of the snake. The crowds at his rallies loved it. Other Americans were appalled and found it racist.

.. A day earlier, Vice President Pence stood on the same stage at CPAC and sounded a call for unity.

.. His boss had a different idea, however.

  • Trump mocked Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), a war hero and Republican elder statesman with a terminal form of brain cancer, for his health-care vote.
  • He vowed to “fight” a current Democratic foe, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). And he
  • revived his row with a previous one, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, by encouraging chants of “lock her up” and sounding off about her alleged “atrocities.”

.. He is at his most comfortable on the campaign trail, as a political brawler feeding off the passions of his fans and speaking off the cuff.

.. “You don’t mind if I go off script a little bit?” Trump said during his Friday speech, referring to the teleprompters loaded with words his aides wanted him to read. “Because it’s sort of boring

.. “I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks,” Trump said. “I work hard at it. Doesn’t look bad. Hey, we’re hanging in. We’re hanging in.”

.. he derides as “chain migration,” with “a merit system.” Never mind that this week, a lawyer representing Trump’s Slovenian-born wife, Melania, and her family told The Washington Post that the first lady’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs

‘The Lowest White Man’

Trump is not committed to that wall on principle. He is committed only to looking good as a result of whatever comes of it. Mexico is nevergoing to pay for it, and he knows it. He has always known it. That was just another lie. Someone must have stuck the phrases “chain migration” and “diversity lottery” into his brain — easy buzzwords, you see — and he can now rail against those ideas for applause lines.

But he is completely malleable on actual immigration policy. He doesn’t have the stamina for that much reading. Learning about immigration would require reading more words than would fit on a television news chyron.

.. If Donald Trump follows through with what he said during that meeting, his base will once again be betrayed. He will have proved once again that he was saying anything to keep them angry, even telling lies.

.. And once again, they won’t care.

.. That is because Trump is man-as-message, man-as-messiah. Trump support isn’t philosophical but theological.

.. when Alabama called a constitutional convention in 1901, Emmet O’Neal, who later became governor, argued that the state should “lay deep and strong and permanent in the fundamental law of the state the foundation of white supremacy forever in Alabama,”
.. In his essay “Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880,” W.E.B. Du Bois discussed why poor whites didn’t make common cause with poor blacks and slaves but instead prized their roles as overseers and slave catchers, eagerly joining the Klan. This fed the white man’s “vanity because it associated him with the masters,” Du Bois wrote.

.. If he had any ambition at all it was to become a planter and to own ‘niggers.’ To these Negroes he transferred all the dislike and hatred which he had for the whole slave system. The result was that the system was held stable and intact by the poor white.