Trump, Walking A Tightrope Between “Tough” And “Cruel”, Stumbles
And There’s A Huge Lesson To Be Learned For Those Who Seek To Unseat Him: He Can’t Tell The Difference
We ended last week talking about Trump voters we overheard who were rethinking their choice: “I thought he’d be tough and get things done, but he’s just plain cruel.”
And we believe there are two big takeaways from the events of the past few days:
- There’s no better cure for apathy than people getting really riled up about something. That one Trump already knew: it’s how he won the Presidency.
- There’s a line between tough and cruel that’s crystal clear to any human being with at least a little compassion. That one is a problem for Trump because he seems completely incapable of seeing that line.
So the huge nationwide outpouring of anger and compassion — that included many Trump supporters — was completely unexpected (and still not completely understood) by the White House.
We believe Trump’s closest advisers can’t see that line either. Or they proffer blind loyalty in order to hang on to their jobs. It’s telling even that the letter 13 Republicans Senators sent to Trump protesting his border policy was led by Orrin Hatch and Bob Corker, both of whom are retiring.
Yes, the President finally reversed course and did what he’s been insisting is impossible: signing an Executive Order that stops ripping immigrant children away from their parents at the border. Instead, they’ll be detained with their parents. (Frankly, he didn’t even need to do an Executive Order, but then we wouldn’t have the image below of him putting his giant signature on something.)
But why didn’t he move until 2,342 kids were sent away alone? Why didn’t he move until, as the Detroit Free Press reports, an 8 month old baby was delivered to foster care in Michigan in the middle of the night? It has to be because he thought his supporters would respond to it positively. Because to them he’d look strong. Because he thought they would see it as tough, not inhumane. After all “zero tolerance” has been getting him cheers when he goes around to rallies. And the crowd was still chanting “build that wall” at a rally last night in Minnesota.
By the way, there are a couple of obvious, immediate problems with Trump’s Executive Order:
- It says nothing about the children who are already separated, and although the President directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General to take all kinds of specific actions, there’s nothing in there directing anybody to take action to facilitate reconciliations for children who’ve already been removed.
- One of the things Trump directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do points at another flaw: right now minors can only be kept in detention centers for up to 20 days. Trump wants Sessions to challenge that in the courts so detentions of entire families can be extended indefinitely. So this is far from over.
Regardless, we believe this experience provides strong hints about how to defeat Trump and his ilk. Without the ability to see the line between toughness and cruelty, Trump’s like a comic book super-villain who appears indestructible until he accidentally reveals a fatal weakness. We now know what that weakness is. And we now finally know what can get people who’ve supported this President pretty unwaveringly, to waver.