Is Trump all pragmatism and no principles?

Published by carolyn on Sat, 2017-04-29 13:13

By Carolyn Yeager

AN ARTICLE AT BREITBART NEWS has highlighted what may be a weakness in President Donald Trump's personality that can cause him to be unpredictable, even erratic. Breitbart quotes from a piece in Vanity Fair by writer T.A. Frank that argues how the Democrats hope to break Trump's presidency by preventing erection of the wall. Frank writes:

Amid unified Democratic opposition, Trump only has two choices, argues Vanity Fair:

Trump’s options are limited. He could in theory play—or have played—a ruthless game to get his way, since Trump has the power to revoke the “deferred action for childhood arrivals” or DACA order that Barack Obama signed in order to shield those who have arrived here illegally as children. An icier type wouldn’t have hesitated to hold the fate of these people hostage for wall funding, employing rhetoric about the importance of tying today’s forgiveness to tomorrow’s prevention, and so on. But Trump shows few signs of being that callous, and he has conveyed only reassurances to the Dreamers. So threats of this sort will not be his approach.

To say this is disappointing is an understatement. Trump has the power but won't use the power. When Trump began his campaign, he presented himself as that icier type. I recall during a town hall meeting before the New Hampshire primary, Trump was asked a question about illegal children – something about would he be able to tell these children to their face that they couldn't stay in this country (as I remember it). He repeated the question to the reporter and the television cameras and answered with a firm and tough 'yes, I could.' Now he's become Mr. Softee on the issue, which isn't nearly as attractive. In fact, not attractive at all.

What explains Trump's change from a tough on immigration candidate to a grandfatherly type who doesn't want to be mean to kids? I don't buy into the idea that he didn't mean it all along, that he was never anything but a tool of the Jews, and will never do anything he said he would do. He has, in fact, done quite a lot that he said he would do, and will do more. But it's the easier stuff that doesn't put his perceived virtue on the line.

I think it's more likely Trump functions from the 'pragmatic present' and while it's true he's spoken in favor of tougher immigration enforcement for many years, it was just that - talk. Now he's balancing out what he thinks he can do without causing too much negative reaction that can lead to stalemate. He has seen how much confrontation has hurt him already and so seeks to “work with Congress” and even “the democrats” to what extent it's possible, to reach common agreements.

Trump is probably sincere in wanting to be seen as a protector of children and young people - who wouldn't? But he might also be overly influenced by “first daughter” Ivanka, who did not need an office in the White House in order to advise her father. If she has it. it's because she wanted it in order to give herself a public platform. Well, if only hardened criminals can now be in the presidential sights, we are in for even bigger disappointments than we could have imagined. We didn't intend to elect a kindly old grandfather, nor a liberal, nor a narcissist who makes policy according to whom he personally likes or dislikes at the moment.

I think Trump should be pressured to revoke the “deferred action for childhood arrivals” or DACA executive order, as he said he would do. There is no excuse for him to put his personal feelings in charge of this type of decision-making. It's too much like ruling by personal fiat. At his rally tonight in Pennsylvania, it would be great to see him confronted with some protest about it.

Well, I can wish, can't I?

Comments

Carolyn, I wonder what kind of principles you expect from Trump.  
 
All the news headlines say every day that Trump is a strategist.  He even calls himself his own strategist.  You call him a pragmatist.  Maybe he's a pragmatist strategist, eschewing various dogmatisms and displaying a readiness to act and even correct his plans in lieu of reconizable dysfunctions. I think the scientist Karl Popper was responsible for this philosophical viewpoint. 
 
But even if he is only a pragmatist, a pragmatist has the principle of "doing whatever works."  But there are others:
https://www.cairn.info/revue-francaise-d-etudes-americaines-2010-2-page-...
 
I was astonished to read yesterday that Trump calls himself a globalist and a nationalist.  To me these two concepts are mutually exclusive logically, but perhaps a strategist sees them as working concepts that help keep his Presidency less divisive among his supporters as well as among his foes.  
 
If these are his principles, I don't like them, but I think he has them, however they may be labeled.  I prefer a President who has principles based in the U.S. Constitution.  
 
I, too, can wish, can't I?
 

I was going to add this late to my article but now I'll just comment on it here.

“Hey, I’m a nationalist and a globalist,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. “I’m both.”

“And I’m the only one who makes the decision, believe me.”

Of course they're mutually exclusive. His saying that means all the talk of nationalism during the campaign was just that. He will do whatever he wants to do at any given time. Believing that nationalism is the best way is a principle - that's what I expected of him.

I'm afraid "our" president is losing credibility with a part of his supporters (I won't call it base) at a fast rate now. I myself am feeling depressed with his cockiness and am not liking him. Maybe he can easily make up our numbers with others in the population who will only look at his end results, not his words.

As to someone whose principles are based in the Constitution, Ted Cruz comes to mind. But he is even more craven to Israel than is Trump. That's the trouble with all the constitutional conservatives. But how about Kris Kobach, the Kansas Sec. of State ... how can we build him up? It would take a miracle.

Carolyn,
Thanks for letting me know which principle you wished for:  the nationalist principle.  
 
Yeah, well, Trump touted that in his campaign speeches all right, one of many fishing lines he threw out to reel us voters in by.  Even Ann Coulter bought into the nostalgia for the old America we once knew and loved, and she, too, has to deal with her chagrin at Trump's betrayal, calling his "principles" from his campaign speeches "Trumpism."  Who is a Trumpist for follows Trumpism?  Kris Kobach?  
 
I admit to not having heard at all of Kris Kobach until now.  I searched the Net for info about him cursorily.  He could be an appropriate substitute from the sketches I've read, but I still don't know yet what his "program" or philosophy or principles really are at the core.  
 
But I object to the term "constitutional conservative" when it comes to anyone who embraces Israel as "our greatest ally" in the same breath with the Spirit of 76.  Those aren't conservatives.  They are not conserving anything of the spirit of liberty by the consent of the governed with such a duplistic, dualistic, unconstitutional stance.  They are neo-cons or cucks.  No U.S. citizen voted to make Israel our ally.  
 
I watched a Canadian video in which three female bureaucrats discussed Trump as a "loose cannon."  They too don't see him operating in the fashion of former diplomats or political leaders and thus have to keep staying alert as to what his next (contradictory?) move may be.  It was funny.  They are genuintely startled and stymied!  
 
So, if there's any light in this dismal, unprincipled scenario, I'm hoping that Trump's unpredictability will be a "tool" he will continue using on the Powers That Be to help fulfill his promises to Americans, though maybe not on the same timeline as he initially foretold.
 
Other than that idea, I've got nothing.

It pains me to see people who voted for Trump, or didn't vote because they felt powerless but pleasantly surprised when he won, continue to make excuses for him now. He hoodwinked his voter base with rhetoric they were dying to hear and then commenced betraying them immediately after the inauguration. We should have known something was up when rabbi Marvin Hier of the USHMM got up and put everyone to sleep for 20 minutes with his sanctimonious address that day. Trump is going to build a wall alright, but guess who will recieve the multi billion dollar contract to design and oversee this project? The same country that stole our nuclear technology and then our computer technology and sold it back to us. Israel and it's operatives and friends have bled America dry and turned this country into an unrecognizable administrative surveillance plantation populated by a braindead biomass becoming colorless and genderless and ready to believe (((Bernie Sanders))) will make state college tuitions free! We deserved what we got with Trump and there's plenty more dissappointment waiiting to be served up by him and the Circle K circle he travels in.     

I wrote an article in response to yours:
http://wehrmachtcandy.blogspot.com/2017/05/in-defence-of-trump.html
When it comes to immigration, one must look at the difference between what Trump says and what he does. He says that he's not going to revoke the DACA now, but he or Sessions may change their minds later. From what  I can see, Trump is going gangbusters on immigration to the US, legal and illegal.
I think the wall will be built. Mass deportations, too, will take place.

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