Say what you like about President Trump, but he doesn’t let anyone get too comfortable in their assumptions. For instance, just as his critics were settling into a nice liberal-bubble bath to read that ludicrous new book that confirms all their cherished fantasies about him being a dementia-stricken, moronic grandpa who can’t understand simple concepts or remember his friends’ names, he dumped a big load of freezing cognitive dissonance in their bath water. First by giving a lengthy, extemporaneous speech on farm policy, then by taking the startlingly rare step of allowing TV cameras in on a meeting with Congressional leaders of both parties. Even the usual anti-Trump yapping Chihuahuas on cable news channels were forced to admit that he ran the meeting like a CEO who was on top of all the issues discussed. It was also a lot more transparent than anything that Obama’s “most transparent Administration in history” ever did.
But while he was deflating the illusions of all those amateur psychiatrists on Twitter, Trump also discombobulated some of his supporters with a couple of comments during the meeting. One came when he noted that Congress members got along better and got more done before they banned earmarks, those attachments of pork for the home districts that greased the skids (and the palms) enough to help get bills passed. He mused that maybe some form of controlled earmarks should come back, which set off furious backlash from conservatives who fought to stamp them out because of the corruption and waste that came along with them.
Another comment that set off alarms on the right was Trump’s seeming agreeability on the idea of accepting a new DACA arrangement now that would let millions of “Dreamers” stay in America, in exchange for Democrats agreeing later to back immigration reforms or tougher border enforcement.
Before anyone goes too far off the deep end, bear in mind that these were only passing comments during a meeting, not hard and fast agreements. Maybe he was only dangling them as carrot-and-stick enticements, to see how the Democrats would respond. Or maybe he was just thinking out loud and didn’t really mean it. All this anguish over it is one reason why they say anyone who enjoys sausage or government should never see how either one is made.
But just in case Trump is seriously considering that DACA/immigration deal, I’d like to offer him a bit of advice. I know he’s the master of the “Art of the Deal,” but he hasn’t made that many political deals, and this is an area where I believe he could benefit from my experience. So here goes:
No Republican executive should ever, ever, EVER accept a deal with Democrats predicated on giving them what they want now in exchange for their promise to give you what you want later. Rather than go into detail, I’ll just offer the following examples, which should be self-explanatory:
“If you agree to a tax hike now, we’ll cut two dollars in spending for every dollar of new taxes later.”
“If you agree to give amnesty to no more than 1.3 million illegal immigrants now, we’ll secure the border later and we’ll never need another amnesty bill.”
“I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
(Note: Popeye was more likely to get his burger money back from Wimpy than Reagan ever was to get those promised spending cuts and border security.)