Other than getting himself media coverage, Donald Trump's trip to Mexico seems to have changed nothing. In his speech last night on immigration, Trump reaffirmed all of his most demagogic statements about immigrants and by implication, Hispanics. If all this was supposed to be a "pivot" to broaden his base, it clear showed that Trump is incapable of change or moderation and that those in the GOP who believed otherwise were fools. Trump's devotion remains to the white supremacists and white nationalist who want America white again and white privilege fully restored. Conservative column Jennifer Rubin unloads on Trump in the Washington Post. Here are highlights:
In Arizona on Wednesday night, Donald Trump proclaimed to his hardcore base what he did not have the nerve to say to Mexico’s president. He reverted to red meat and angry rhetoric on immigration. In that regard, he is a typical bully — brave only from a distance.
In Mexico earlier that afternoon Trump had said no discussion occurred about which country will pay for his wall. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said for his part “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made clear Mexico will not pay for the wall.” A Trump spokesman seemed to confirm Peña Nieto’s version when he put out a statement saying it should not be surprising the two disagreed. (Got that?)
Safely back in the U.S., it was Trump as usual. With intros from Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) who both sported hats reading “Make Mexico Great Again Also” (I kid you not) — Trump began with praise for the Mexican president, who had effectively called him out as a liar. Insisting we have record levels of immigration (we don’t), he suggested the immigrant system serves the needs of politicians(?). It was downhill from there. Trump insisted we would build a “great” wall along the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. Of course, he’d first have to ask for it, something he claimed he did not do today.
He did not get more accurate as the speech went on: We could have 30 million immigrants, he insisted, and repeated another unfounded claim that illegal immigrants cost us $113 billion a year.
On the subject of mass deportation he chose to hang tight. He said, “We will be fair, just and compassionate to all” — but most compassionate to American citizens. Later in the speech he said President Eisenhower’s deportation plan did not go far enough. (He did not mention that the strategy was called “Operation Wetback”.) On “day one” he promised to deport 2 million “criminal aliens” (which would be hard since he says we don’t know if there are 3 or 30 million people). How he did not say.
And yes, mass deportation is still on the table: “Anyone who has entered the U.S. illegally will be subject to deportation.” In case it wasn’t clear, he insisted, “We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration; there will be no amnesty.”
In short, there was no pivot, no attempt to broaden his base. He remains a prisoner of his own hateful rhetoric and his adoring fans. That it seems is more important even than winning. Despite polling showing the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, disagree with his extreme stances, he cannot admit error and therefore cannot depart from positions that make him unacceptable to people outside his core base.
Clinton campaign manager John Podesta actually had it right earlier in the day when just after Trump’s Mexico visit, he put out a statement that said Trump“choked” on in his first overseas trip. Podesta concluded, “After today’s trip, we still know where Trump stands: an immigration plan that would deport 16 million people, end birthright citizenship, repeal DACA/DAPA and build a $25 billion wall and stick the American taxpayers with the bill.” He later added, “It turns out Trump didn’t just choke, he got beat in the room and lied about it.” That’s not far off, but with one caveat that should always apply to Trump: Whatever he says today may be repudiated tomorrow.