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Bluntness is Not the Best Policy

President Donald Trump has a penchant for frankly blurting out whatever is on his mind at the moment, and he became president largely by persuading a plurality of the electorate  that’s somehow a good thing. What served him well enough as a presidential candidate has often proved a problem during his presidency,however,  as happened several times on Thursday.
The biggest headlines were about Trump telling a bipartisan gathering of congress members that he objected to allowing immigration from such “shit-holes” as Haiti and El Salvador various African countries, and then opining we should be bringing in more immigrants from countries such as Norway. Relatively little attention was paid to the barnyard epithet, and at this point Trump has so degraded the level of political discourse with his cussing that we no longer bother to bowdlerize it with those pointless asterisks that much of the mainstream media still quaintly use, and by now we even relish rubbing the wayward Trump apologists among our evangelical brothers’ and sisters’ noses in it, but the apparent prejudice of the remark was more widely noticed.
There are perfectly valid and not at all racist arguments to be made for favoring immigration from some countries rather than others, and for perfectly valid and not at all racist reasons Haiti and El Salvador and several African countries are among the less desirable and Norway is among the more desirable, and we would have preferred that Trump make that case. He’s not much good at that kind of rhetoric, though, and what we he wound up blurting out instead was not only vulgar but clearly suggested a prejudiced state of mind. All the Democrats from districts with large hispanic and Caribbean and African-American populations were entitled to their outraged comments, the Republicans from Florida and the impeccably conservative yet ethnically Haitian Utah Rep. Mia Love joined in the denunciations, and no one in the remaining respectable precincts of Republican opinion defended the remark.
The talk radio talkers and the rest of the Trump apologists in the less respectable precincts Republican opinion will try to wed the remark to those perfectly valid and not at all racist arguments for immigration reform, and they’ll rightly note that none of those offended Democrats plan to spend any vacation time in Haiti or El Salvador or several African countries, and the true die-hards will continue to love Trump for saying out loud what they’re thinking. Their chances of persuading the rest of the country have been severely diminished, though, and the arguments that Trump isn’t a racist are even harder to make. We’d also note that there are bound to be a few impeccably conservative Republicans such as Love coming from even the most shit-hole countries, that few Norwegians and people from other first world countries are yearning immigrate anywhere, for obvious reasons, and that Trump isn’t lately doing much to make America a more attractive alternative.
Trump also “tweeted” his objections to the routine re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, apparently in response to an earlier “Fox & Friends” report about how the act had authorized part of the ongoing probe into the “Russia thing,” which was followed by a phone call from House Speaker Paul Ryan explaining the respectable Republican opinion on the matter, and 101 minutes after the initial “tweet” Trump followed by another blurting of whatever was then on his mind by saying that “Today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get Smart!” By all accounts, things grew testy when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to explain that to the smarty-ass press corps.
There was also the expected late-night comedy show guffawing about Trump’s boasts that his earlier profanity-free and not at all racist 53 minutes of televised meeting about immigration had gone so well that the network anchors had sent him letters calling it the best meeting ever, which was obviously and laughably untrue, especially after he wound up promising to sign whatever those congressional swamp creatures passed, and some other ridiculous blurting out of whatever of was on his mind at the time which we can’t quite recall now.
There’s a reasonable and not at all racist argument to be made that Trump is doing some things right, and that insisting on a more restrictive immigration policy is among them, and at the very least he hasn’t kept the stock market from soaring the unemployment rate from dropping at the same steady rate of the past few years. The election year argument that Trump should keep blurting out whatever’s on his mind without a moment’s consideration of  the consequence of a president’s word, though, is looking more stupid than ever.

— Bud Norman

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