Via the Free Beacon, he’s 100 percent right but strongmen don’t get to make this argument. If some traditional politician stood up and said, “On my first day in office, I’ll propose a 10 percent across-the-board tax cut,” we’d all murmur “fine, fine” and move on. If Trump stood up and said, “On my first day in office, I’ll propose a border wall,” it’d sound ridiculous. You don’t back a heroic nationalist like Trump because you’re keen on his “proposals” being negotiated with Congress, you back him because you think he’s some sort of national savior who’s going to harness the people’s strength and force Congress to build that wall whether they want to or not. Can you imagine President Trump telling Chuck Schumer that it’s time for a wall, Schumer replying “nope,” and Trump turning to his base and saying, “I tried, I proposed it”? Either you’re an authoritarian or you’re a poseur. There’s no such thing as an authoritarian “proposal.”
What’s more ridiculous is that, true to authoritarian form, his signature “proposals” are all about protecting Americans from foreigners. If he agreed to be “flexible” on those, it’d cut the heart out of his argument that he’ll be ruthless in prosecuting America’s (and especially his base’s) enemies. And yet:
During an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning, Trump clarified: “Look, anything I say right now — I’m not the president. Everything is a suggestion. No matter what you say, it is a suggestion.”…
When it comes to the proposed ban on Muslims, Trump said on Fox News that he feels “very strongly that we have to find out what the problem is” and has tasked former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani with heading a small committee of “really stellar people” to study immigration issues and the proposed ban.
“No, I am not softening my stance at all, but I am always flexible on issues,” Trump said in the interview with “Today.” “I am totally flexible on very, very many issues, and I think you have to be that way. But I’m not softening my stance.”
Authoritarian or poseur? You’ll see what you want to see. If you like Trump as a heroic nationalist then he’s lying to the media here about his flexibility. It’s just a ploy to reassure swing voters who are skittish about his more hardline ideas. If instead you prefer to believe that he’s exaggerating the tough-guy act and will govern within constitutional norms then he’s telling the truth here about his flexibility as president. He’s only refusing to “soften his stance” on the Muslim ban for the moment because he knows it would alienate his nationalist fans. Guess we’ll find out who’s right in a year or so.
Exit question: Has Trump finished working on the policy “suggestions” he’s already released or are they still works in progress? Read this NYT piece about him bringing in Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow to try to trim $6 trillion(!) off the cost of his tax plan — before Trump’s spokeswoman announced that Trump plans no changes to the plan. “I’m a little bummed out” to hear that, said Moore afterward. What’s going on?