Receiving comments from the current President of the United States is by no means an uncommon occurrence. Deciphering those comments to gain a fuller understanding and obtaining the true meaning of those comments is where the challenge “lies” if you’ll pardon the expression.
Jan. 2 is an excellent example of a day during which the comments kept flowing from the president’s mouth like lava from a volcano and serves as a microcosm for just about every other day of the Trump presidency.
Here are just some of the highlights of the many comments that flowed from the mouth of the President of the United States during the cabinet meeting held on that day as provided by the White House pool report for that specific day.
During that single cabinet meeting, President Trump continued to insist on a border wall, saying that the border is “like a sieve” that lets in criminals and contributes to drug and human trafficking. He said “the United States needs a physical barrier” and that “it needs a wall.” He also noted that “President Obama has a wall around his compound because walls work.” It should be noted that the protective “wall” around former President Obama’s home is less than 10 feet high.
Trump went on to state “We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security.” He accused Democrats of playing politics because “they have an eye on 2020.” The wall, he said, is the answer. “The wheel, the wall, some things never get old” he continued. “Drones and technology are not enough.” “I know more about drones than anybody” he boastfully continued.
Enough about the wall? Let’s jump to North Korea about which he said “There would be a big fat war in Asia” if he had not sat down with Kim Jong-un.
Now for Mitt Romney, about whom he said “I wish Mitt could be more of a team player. I endorsed him, and he thanked me profusely.” Trump then felt compelled to add that he had “great personal popularity in Utah.” He also felt compelled to add that if Romney “fought as hard against President Obama as he did against me, he would have won the election.”
On another matter, Trump said that he essentially “fired” James Mattis as defense secretary.
The president then jumped back to the wall and did say that there may be room to negotiate from the $5.7 billion demand for a wall, but he declined to be specific.
About his low poll ratings in Europe, he said: “if I were popular in Europe I wouldn’t be doing my job.” “I could be the most popular person in Europe. I could run for any office if I wanted to.”
On Syria, the president declined to give a specific timetable for withdrawal other than “over a period of time.” “Syria was lost long ago,” he added. He went on, “We are talking about sand and death. We are not taking about vast wealth.”
On Iran, he said that “sanctions have worked and turned it into a different country” and that “Iran is in trouble.”
Jumping back to North Korea, he brandished a letter that he said he had received from Kim, jokingly saying “he wished he could share it with the media.”
Again, back to the border, he declined to say how long the shutdown might last. “As long as it takes,” he said.
Back to Romney and a possible primary challenge he said: “they say I am the most popular president in the history of the Republican Party.” The lava flow mercilessly ended after about ninety-five minutes.
If your head has not yet exploded by this all over the map, literally, a stream of consciousness, we are now ready for some deciphering.
First, there is not a crisis at the southern border, and the southern border is not a “sieve.”
Immigration is actually down from previous years. Moreover, as I discussed in previous columns, most smuggling of both drugs and “bad hombres” occurs at the ports of entry and not between the ports of entry. A wall does nothing to prevent human smuggling.
Further, a wall does not seal off access by sea. The Coast Guard would, the same Coast Guard currently impacted by the government shutdown and whose funding is being cut.
Trump “knows more about drones than anybody” is as ridiculous to boast as him knowing more about ISIS than the generals. Drones may not be the only solution, but it is an element along with other technological tools that allow Customs & Border Protection personnel to secure our southern border effectively.
A “big, beautiful wall” is far from the cure-all portrayed by Trump. The money appropriated for border security should address all elements essential to effective border security.
Trump’s claim that the $5.7 billion demand is negotiable apparently is no longer as his heals have since been more deeply dug in. Further, that $5.7 billion is only a fraction of the cost of an actual full-length border wall.
Accordingly, a full plan should be provided before that portion is approved and certainly should have been fully developed before shutting down the government.
As for the likelihood that Trump could win any office he sought in Europe, that might be the epitome of his delusion. He must have conveniently forgotten the Trump balloon floated during his last visit to Europe.
As for Syria, Iran and North Korea, it is safe to say that his projection as a loose cannon has both brought us closer to international confrontation while it also gave international adversaries reason to pause.
What is in the letter received from Kim anyone can guess, but clearly if it flattered Trump, he will find a way to share it. Pulling back from a specific timetable on Syria is a bit encouraging that maybe, just maybe, he is listening to those who are in a better position to make these decisions.
On Iran, some details as to what he was referring regarding Iran being a “different country” would be useful, but details are not anything we can realistically ever expect from Trump.
Regarding Romney and a possible primary challenge, to be “the most popular president in the history of the Republican party” would require two things:
First, disregard for the 2018 midterm elections which required cross over of Republicans to turn so many Republican Congressional districts Democratic. Second, disregard for every other Republican president from Abe Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan.
Lastly, Trump’s claim that he fired Mattis after announcing his retirement with honor. Apparently, Trump made the announcement before becoming aware of the content of Mattis’ resignation letter in which he clearly exposed Trump’s ineptitude regarding foreign policy in dealing with both adversaries and allies.
If Trump paid closer attention to the content of both Mattis’ resignation letter and Romney’s blistering op-ed, this country might just be a little better off. Then again, that would require Trump acknowledging that there is room for improvement on his part. Don’t hold your breath.