Yeah, I said he’s brilliant. I went there. I can’t stand him, and I went there. I’m a pro-life libertarian, and he regularly exhibits tendencies and worldviews that I despise. And I still went there.
Note, I’m not coming to the defense of his character — just his aptitude, and maybe his intentions. Yes, he is erratic. He is coarse. Nobody’s denying that. But if you think he’s an idiot, I have to wonder if you’ve been paying attention. It takes brains to make a gazillion dollars, go bankrupt, and recoup your losses — with interest. And I think he’s been using those brains over the past year and people still don’t realize it.
See, there’s a certain power in people underestimating you. When you’re an idiot, they’re quick to commit to whatever action they mean to take, and once they commit, they don’t realize that they’ve overcommitted until after you’ve countered their attack and maybe got in a punch of your own. It’s quite like aikido, a martial artform where your attack is less about the force that you apply and more about using your opponent’s force against them.
Consider what Trump was elected to do. We sent him to Washington to “drain the swamp”, but how’s he supposed to do that? One man, even the President, can only do so much, has only so much power at his disposal.
Kneejerk reaction suggests that he try to “rule by fiat”. I mean, if the Washington apparatus isn’t working in your favor, then overreaching your authority seems a viable option, so you ignore the separations of power and institute your will without needing anybody’s approval. Thing is, both sides hate it when “they” do it, but they have no problem when “we” do it. Obama proved that by using his “pen and phone” to the delight of progressives and the disgust of conservatives. When Trump tries to do that (as with the immigration ban), the same thing happens in the opposite direction and he gets shut down.
What’s interesting here is that rather than doing an end run around the ruling as Obama did, or ignoring it altogether as other Presidents have done in the past, he submits to the authority of the ruling and approaches from a different direction. Yes, he tries again, but that’s not the important part — again, he submits to the limitations of his office. This is huge (or should I say, yuge) when you consider how much precedent he had to simply run over courts and Congress and whoever is in his way. In submitting to the ruling, he reaffirms the separation of powers.
But Presidential fiat is only one thing his presidency is combating. Consider also the media. In recent years, the media has proven time and again to have abandoned journalistic integrity as its guiding ethic, and allowed its spin doctoring to play a vital role in the establishment remaining in power.
So how is one man supposed to dismantle the propaganda machine that the mainstream media has become? Certainly not by the strength of his frontal assault — the law protects the media’s right to lie as certainly as it does that of the common man. And chastising the media does no good, as past politicians and celebrities — including Trump, with his mockery of “fake news” — have demonstrated.
But Trump has demonstrated himself adept at playing to this tendency in the media to spin the news, and turning that spin against them. Political aikido. Here we are a year later, and the media that was gleefully picking him apart in January 2017 is not so quick to jump the gun in January 2018. They’ve been caught in so many spins, so many outright lies, and have been forced to backpedal and do damage control so many times, that they’ve grown wary of their own spins. Not enough to stop the spin cycle, mind you, but this is only the start of Year Two.
When you look at Trump’s actions over the course of the past year, if you only look at his actions, then yes — he looks like an idiot. But when you look at what comes out of those actions and how they stand to affect the workings of Washington and its influences, then a pattern starts to emerge. Trump playing the bumbling fool (whether accurate or not) is actually working to realign government, using the strength of its authoritarian elitism against itself such that, where he could not rein Washington in by himself, Washington is actually starting to rein itself in in its attempt to rein in Trump.
That being the case, I wonder how yesterday’s news will play out. See, Trump thought to end DACA, and a federal judge blocked him — to the jubilation of liberals everywhere, of course.
But what is DACA? Yeah, it’s the government’s policy regarding the children of illegal aliens, but what is it really? In essence, it’s Obama’s 2012 response to Congress’ unwillingness between 2007 and 2011 to reform immigration and pass amnesty — the DREAM Act. So because Congress — who alone has the authority to make laws — would not pass the DREAM Act, Obama moved unilaterally to ignore immigration law and institute a “law” on his own.
This is vital to the discussion. DACA is not a law but is rather a unilateral action by Obama. In discontinuing that action, Trump hasn’t made anything illegal nor is he doing anything illegal. Rather, he’s restored America to the same immigration policies that we had prior to 2012 — acting unilaterally to nullify a unilateral action.
This is what that federal judge has blocked. It is an unconstitutional overreach of the judge’s power… and it was entirely predictable.
I have to wonder if Trump didn’t intentionally plan this, either to highlight judicial overreach (and prompt a more in-depth discussion of the separation of powers, legislating from the bench, etc) or to nail down the actual laws governing immigration policy, rather than allowing vague guidelines to continue to rule the day.
In short, I wonder if Trump’s actions on DACA aren’t yet another example of the political aikido that I’ve noted as a hallmark of his administration thus far?