Friday, December 21, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to put his words in Ronald Reagan's mouth.

As of midnight tonight, Trump will have partially shut down the government because he refuses (for the moment) to accept any spending bill that doesn't include the funding he wants for his oft-promised, never-delivered wall. (Or rather, the fence made of "artistically designed steel slats" Trump has retreated to.)

In a last minute attempt to sway Congress today, Trump compared himself favorably to another Republican president:

This is a kind of double slander on President Reagan. It's true that Reagan "was unable" to build a wall or fence, but the reason is that Reagan never tried. In fact, Reagan explicitly renounced the nativism and outright appeals to fear that Trump has employed, and rejected the building of walls (literal or otherwise). As a number of news outlets noted in fact-checking Trump's claim, Reagan campaigned in the 1980 Republican primary on a platform of expanding immigration, saying:

Rather than making them, or talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems and make it possible for them to come here legally, with a work permit, and then while they are working and earning here, they pay taxes here.

Reagan also signed a bill in 1986 granting retroactive amnesty to anyone who had illegally entered the country before 1982. This had the effect (as was known to Reagan at the time) of allowing almost 3 million affected immigrants a legal path to citizenship.

It's not clear whether Trump knew how President Reagan felt about border walls, and was lying, or whether he simply assumed that all Republicans at all times felt the same way he claims to.

Who cares?

  • Recent history doesn't change just because the current president needs it to.
  • Thinking that everyone agrees with you is not a sign of good mental health.
  • Trump's entitled to his own political strategy, but lying about Ronald Reagan may not be the best way to appeal to his conservative base.