How the G.O.P. Built Donald Trump’s Cages

Republicans who spoke up this time should be asking themselves why a president of their party felt he was enforcing its principles by breaking apart families and caging children.

.. But many, many other party leaders have been venturing ever deeper into the dank jungles of nativist populism for quite some time, exploiting the politics of fear and resentment. Mr. Trump did not invent Republican demonization of “the other” — it came about in two ways: gradually, and then all at once.

.. From the early 1990s to 2000, the conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan kept the Republican Party on its toes, running for president three times with an explicitly isolationist message.

.. But it was during the George W. Bush years that anti-immigrant sentiment started to become more central to the party’s identity.

.. Mr. Bush made comprehensive immigration reform a priority of his second term.

.. Conservative talk radio took up the cause, smacking Mr. Bush as squishy on immigration. The very concept of comprehensive reform became anathema to many on the right.

.. The Great Recession that Mr. Obama inherited did nothing to quell nativist resentment among working-class whites, and the rise of the Tea Party pulled the Republican Party further to the right

.. Just ask Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, who saw his fledgling political career almost snuffed out by his flirtation with comprehensive reform

.. in the wake of Mitt Romney’s presidential loss in 2012, after which the Republican Party briefly decided that one of its principal goals was to improve its image with Hispanic voters.

.. The resulting plan would have done everything from beefing up border security to overhauling visa categories to promoting a merit-based immigration system.

It also provided for the legalization of undocumented immigrants, which meant conservatives hated it.

..  the bill cleared the Senate by an impressive 68-to-32 vote. But John Boehner, then the House speaker, refused to bring it up for a vote in the Republican-controlled lower chamber.

.. Mr. Rubio became a pariah to the Tea Party voters who had propelled him to office three years earlier. Soon, he was denying that he had ever really supported the bill.

.. Party leaders fanned those flames, accusing Mr. Obama of being imperious and “lawless.” In one bit of twisted logic, Mr. Boehner argued that the House couldn’t possibly take up reform legislation because it couldn’t trust Mr. Obama to carry out said legislation.

.. Along the way, Republican candidates continued to play to their base’s darker impulses. On the whole, the rhetoric was subtler than that of the current president

.. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, painting Dreamers as drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

.. Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama: “I’ll do anything short of shooting them”

.. Nor was Mr. Trump the first Republican to promote the idea that within every immigrant lurks a murderer or terrorist.

.. Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, ran around warning of what came to be mocked as the great “terror baby” plot. As Mr. Gohmert told it, radical Islamists were plotting to impregnate droves of young women, who would infiltrate the United States to give birth here. The babies would be shipped back home for terrorist training, then return as adults to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting America.

.. Time and again, given the choice between soothing and stoking nativist animus, Republican lawmakers chose the low road.

.. And he has even less interest in addressing the root causes of migrant families flocking to the border.

.. In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security reported, “More individuals sought affirmative asylum from the Northern Triangle Countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) in the last three years than in the prior 15 years combined.”

.. Helping these nations stabilize themselves is key to reducing the flow of asylum seekers. But Mr.

Trump does not like complexity or long-term strategizing.

He prefers casting blame and making threats. 

.. In the administration’s budget proposals, it has sought deep cuts in aid to these countries — something Congress has wisely ignored. Removing a financial lifeline from nations already in chaos is hardly a recipe for progress.

.. Mr. Trump’s move to kick out as many people who are from these countries as possible threatens to overwhelm nations ill equipped for such an influx. And without the money that many of the immigrants living here regularly send back to their families, the economies of these countries would further crumble.

.. In 2016, 17 percent of El Salvador’s gross domestic product came from remittances from abroad.

.. America’s immigration mess is not going to be cleaned up anytime soon.

.. conservatives are terrified that the base will punish them if they concede even an inch. Speaker Paul Ryan, with one foot out the door, has no juice. And pretty much everyone assumes that nothing will move through the Senate anyway.

.. Trump is planning fresh crackdowns in the run-up to the midterms, to reassure his base that he has not lost his resolve. If anything, given the fragility of his ego, last week’s flip-flop will make him all the more desperate to prove his strength.

.. Mr. Trump is more a breaker than a fixer.

.. The question now is whether the conference will learn anything useful from this episode.

.. There is also his

  • politicization of law enforcement, his
  • attempts to undermine public faith in the democratic process, his
  • attacks on the press, his
  • family’s suspect business dealings and his
  • habitual lying

.. this is unlikely to be the last time the president puts members of his party in an uncomfortable, and perhaps untenable, position.

.. The weight of this moment should be recognized. Mr. Trump’s capitulation was not a given. With a little less media scrutiny, fewer heartbreaking photos and fewer calls from angry voters, tent cities could have kept on filling with traumatized children.

.. Having done so much to pave the way for Mr. Trump and his immigration policies, they now owe it to the American people to help keep him in check.

Will Trump Crash the Farm Economy?

Many people don’t even know these scandals exist — they generally don’t lead in Sean Hannity’s or Tucker Carlson’s world.

.. One smaller manufacturer — a Trump voter — told me that his costs to produce his product nearly doubled overnight, and that his business has already been hurt by the tariffs. Prices didn’t rise only after the tariffs were announced; they started rising when Mr. Trump floated the idea.

.. Senator Joni Ernst and Iowa’s agriculture secretary, Mike Naig, both say the tariffs will hurt Iowans, and Mr. Naig says we need to expand markets, not shrink them. Senator Chuck Grassley said something similar, on Fox News: “Tariffs do not put America first — low barriers and expanded access do.”

.. China has already responded with its own tariff on pork, which will have a dire impact on Iowa. Iowa is the nation’s largest pork producer, producing three times as much pork as the next-highest state.

.. with commodity prices down and the tariffs imposed, approximately 10 percent of our farmers probably won’t make it this year, and 10 percent more will likely fail next year. They also shared the news that in Iowa, larger agribusinesses are buying up smaller farms that are in financial trouble, and that people are starting to make comparisons to the farm crisis of the 1980s, when approximately 10,000 Iowa farmers lost their farms.

.. Even Representative Steve King, the avid Trump supporter and Iowan every liberal loves to hate, is worried about a new farm crisis.

.. Dairy farmers are particularly hard hit, suffering through four years of declining prices. It’s gotten so bad, dairy farming organizations are giving out suicide hotline numbers, as farmers are committing suicide in the hope that their insurance will save the family farm.

.. “It gives Democrats a generational opportunity to do the political work with farmers they haven’t done since the 1980s farm crisis,”

.. “Democrats do farm policy really well but are terrible at farm politics. Republicans do farm politics really well but have a history of doing terrible farm policy.”

.. With the multiple scandals, rampant corruption and the Mueller investigation, the only thing keeping him near 40 percent approval — and most important, approval among most Republicans — is a strong economy. That, and Fox cheerleading. But if he tanks the rural economy, he and his legacy are in deep trouble.

.. Furthermore, if the rural economy turns sour, much of rural America will abandon Mr. Trump, and Fox may have no choice but to follow.

 

Rep. Steve King Rushes to Jeff Sessions’s Defense

Immigration hardliner Rep. Steve King (R-IA) penned an op-ed strongly in support of Jeff Sessions staying on as attorney general Friday, a day after his fellow conservative Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) called on Sessions to resign.
“Jeff Sessions is the right man, in the right place, at the right time, to restore respect for the Rule of Law after eight years of Obama’s destruction. He is already doing it. I look forward to him continuing to do so,” King concludes, after addressing Jordan and Meadows’s concerns.

Bannon in Limbo as Trump Faces Growing Calls for the Strategist’s Ouster

Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.

.. So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the protective custody of the West Wing.

.. Despite his marginalization, Mr. Bannon consulted the president repeatedly over the weekend as Mr. Trump struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. In general, Mr. Bannon has cautioned the president not to criticize far-right activists too severely for fear of antagonizing a small but energetic part of his base.

.. Mr. Bannon also has admirers, including Representative Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, who said that without Mr. Bannon, “there is a concern among conservatives that Washington, D.C., will influence the president in way that moves him away from those voters that put him in the White House.”

And Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa and an immigration hard-liner, said that shoving out Mr. Bannon would leave conservatives “crushed.”

.. Mr. Bannon, who adamantly rejects claims that he is a racist or a sympathizer of white supremacists, is in trouble with John F. Kelly, a retired Marine general and the new White House chief of staff. Mr. Kelly has told Mr. Trump’s top staff that he will not tolerate Mr. Bannon’s shadowland machinations, according to a dozen current and former Trump aides and associates with knowledge of the situation.

Mr. Bannon’s alleged crimes:

  • Leaking nasty stories about General McMaster and other colleagues he deems insufficiently populist,
  • feuding bitterly with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and
  • creating his own cadre within the West Wing that operates outside the chain of command.

.. One of his main sins in the eyes of the president is appearing to revel in the perception that he is the mastermind behind the rise of a pliable Mr. Trump. The president was deeply annoyed at a Time magazine cover

.. Others say Mr. Bannon’s continued presence in the White House is not serving the president’s interests.

“He’s got to move more into the mainstream, he’s got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are,” said Mr. Scaramucci

.. Top administration officials like to joke that working for Mr. Trump is like toiling in the court of Henry VIII.

.. Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, recently handed out copies of the play “A Man for all Seasons,” about the last years of Sir Thomas More, Henry’s chancellor, who was executed for failing to endorse Henry’s split with Rome.

.. From the start, Mr. Bannon, 63, has told people in his orbit that he never expected to last in his current position longer than eight months to a year, and hoped to ram through as much of his agenda as he could

.. Mr. Bannon’s ability to hang on as Mr. Trump’s in-house populist is in part because of his connections to a handful of ultrarich political patrons, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the pro-Israel, Las Vegas-based casino magnate.

.. He is especially close to the reclusive conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, who is a frequent sounding board for Mr. Bannon.

.. has suggested that he might direct his energies at creating a movement to challenge mainstream Republicans too timid to pursue the president’s agenda, like Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

.. Mr. Bannon’s cause is being damaged, people close to the president say, by a war he is waging against General McMaster.

.. the national security adviser, whom he believes to be prodding the president toward possible war with North Korea and Venezuela.

.. Mr. Bannon’s protégé, chief speechwriter and policy director, Stephen Miller, shares his populist agenda — centered around a controversial immigration crackdown — and has become one of the president’s favorite aides.

.. Despite his image in the news media as a confrontational ideologue, Mr. Miller has proved to be a deft operator who has ingratiated himself to Mr. Kushner.