Trump’s Tough Dilemma and Melania’s Big Moment - The Texas Developer

Trump’s Tough Dilemma and Melania’s Big Moment

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“You ever notice they always call the other side ‘the elite’?” the commander in chief asked the crowd Wednesday night in Minnesota.

“The elite! Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president, and they didn’t.” This dweller-in-a-nicer-apartment was earlier that day more or less forced to sign an executive order intended to end the separation of parents and children at the border by mandating that families be detained together for an indefinite period—a rare reversal of his original policy. This did not leave the rich smart person in a good mood. “The dilemma is that if you’re weak—if you’re weak, which some people would like you to be, if you’re really, really, pathetically weak, the country’s going to be overrun with millions of people,” he mused aloud to reporters that day. “And if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma. Perhaps I’d rather be strong, but that’s a tough dilemma.”

In an era when, to quote W. H. Auden, “intellectual disgrace stares from every human face”—well, at least from almost every Republican face on Capitol Hill—tough dilemmas abound. Scrambling and prevaricating, blame flinging and bullying, the White House and its minions argued that separating families at the Southern border was the fault of Democrats and could not be modified by executive order, until Wednesday, when Donald Trump suddenly pulled out his presidential pen and did just that. Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur put it best, tweeting on Monday the variety of excuses and explanations the administration has trotted out to justify its heinous plan: “Trump: Democrats did it; Kelly: It’s a deterrent; Miller: We did it and we’re proud; Conway: We did it and we’re not proud; Sessions: It sends a message; Sanders: It’s biblical; Nielsen: It’s not a policy.”

“Where are the girls? Where are the young toddlers?” NBC News reporter Kristen Welker asked Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, who came before the Washington press corps on Monday to defend this policy that was not a policy. Nielsen replied, “I don’t know.” This haunting question has still not been satisfactorily answered, but later the following night, the existence of “tender age” shelters for babies and toddlers was revealed. Though children have been bussed or flown to at least 16 states, few journalists or members of Congress have been able to see these incarcerated kids, and no one has been permitted to photograph them. (A number of airlines requested that the government not use their planes to transport these children.) By Friday, amid reports that military bases were being readied to house thousands of migrant children, Trump decided that maybe it would be best if Congress just forgot all about immigration, tweeting, “Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and congressmen/women in November.”

On Tuesday, after yet another anti-immigrant rant, the president literally hugged the flag (the poor Stars and Stripes could do nothing but stand there and endure this). That same day, more than 600 members of Jeff Sessions’s denomination, the United Methodist Church, issued a formal complaint against the attorney general with four charges: child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination, and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church.” Even the president’s ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, added his two cents: In an email letter of resignation as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, he wrote, “As the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart-wrenching. While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”

But let us lift our own gaze from the specter of children as bargaining chips and ponder the true mystery of the week: Why did the First Lady wear a two-seasons-old, $39 Zara jacket with graffiti on the back that reads I really don’t care, do u? when she paid a visit to Texas on Thursday? Could the sphinxlike Mrs. Trump be sending a message to her husband that she couldn’t care less about him? Was she signaling to the American people that her concern for immigrant children was, in fact, not even skin deep? Was her uncertain grasp of English perhaps responsible for this regrettable fashion choice? Or could she have been telling the world, “I really don’t care that my own immigration history has never been made clear, and that my parents were the beneficiaries of the policy that my husband reviles, so-called chain migration, and that neither they nor I ever had to spend even a single night on a concrete floor under a Mylar blanket.”