The Morning Jolt

Trump on Deportations: ‘Could Be . . . We’re Going to See What Happens’

Does Donald Trump want to deport all illegal immigrants? In the primaries, his answer was “yes”; in his appearance with Sean Hannity this week, his answer shifted to maybe not, and last night on CNN he clarified that his answer was . . . maybe.

The Republican nominee declined in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to clarify whether he would still forcibly deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US — a major tenet of his immigration platform — after he suggested this week he was “softening” on the idea.

“There’s no path to legalization unless they leave the country,” Trump said after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire. “When they come back in, then they can start paying taxes, but there is no path to legalization unless they leave the country and then come back.”

Trump said that on his first day in office, he would authorize law enforcement to actively deport “bad dudes,” such as those who have committed crimes, which he said numbered “probably millions.” But he declined to flatly say whether he would round up other undocumented immigrants, stressing that once the initial deportations occur, “then we can talk.”

“There is a very good chance the answer could be yes,” Trump said when asked if he would deport those who have lived here peacefully but without papers. “We’re going to see what happens.”

But remember, he would never, ever, ever nominate a bad Supreme Court nominee, right?

Why You Want a Candidate with a Long Record and Clear Principles

You’re probably tired of reading me criticize Donald Trump, and I’m actually tired of writing it. But we should try to learn or re-learn or remind others of some key lessons here. The job of governing is going to throw a dozen different problems at a leader every day. Those problems will have a lot of possible solutions, each with strengths and drawbacks — and every course of action will irk, irritate and alienate some portion of the governed. To sort through it all, it’s best if a leader has clear, well-known, well-established principles and a thought-out philosophy.

This is not esoteric or fancy-pants poli-sci egghead mumbo-jumbo. Ultimately, a lot of a leader’s decisions come down to what he prioritizes. What value is most important to him, and which ones are less important? A leader who prioritizes freedom above all other values is going to make different decisions than one who leader who prioritizes order. Americans want a lot of things simultaneously: safety, freedom, prosperity, stability, fairness, opportunity.

These values aren’t always going to be in direct conflict, but they often come into indirect conflict. When it comes to drugs, should the priority be public order or people’s freedom to do what they want? At some point, does prosecution and incarceration of drug crimes become a disorderly force by itself? When it comes to stopping terrorism, should the NSA have broad powers, including domestic surveillance? Or does that power infringe upon Americans’ freedoms? When it comes to cops, who watches the watchmen? If we want everyone to have good health care, should the government make them purchase health insurance, and fine them if they don’t? How you answer those questions will be heavily influenced by what you prioritize and value most.

We kept hearing “Trump’s not a politician,” and occasionally, “look, you can’t expect a guy who’s been a businessman all his life to know every little policy detail.” But Trump’s rambling, often contradictory answers, and ability to flip on an issue like this, indicate he hasn’t really thought that long or hard about this. He’s easily persuaded by the most recent person who speaks to him; remember how he explained it to Hannity:

. . . When I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I’ve had very strong people come up to me, really great, great people come up to me, and they’ve said, ‘Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who’s been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump,’ I have it all the time! It’s a very, very hard thing.”

All it took for him to back away from the idea was “very strong people” coming up to him and telling him, “It’s so tough.”

The Southside With You Creators’ Need for Perfection

Picture it: You’ve got a date, you’re looking for a romantic comedy to watch tonight, you go to the theaters and decide on Southside With You. It’s the story of a first date in Chicago in 1989 between a guy who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia and a gal who’s a local. He’s going to Harvard Law School, she’s already practicing with a firm. He’s a community organizer, and goes out and gives a big speech . . . And you suddenly realize, Wait a minute . . . I know these two.”

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this fictionalized version of the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama is that it exists; that a creative team and a studio felt this story needed to be told again and dramatized and turned into a movie. Never mind the fact that we know how it ends. The New York Times review concedes what’s painfully obvious in the headline: this is hagiography, a form of biography that idealizes its subjects.

If you have the perfect guy and the perfect girl coming together . . . where’s the narrative tension? Where’s the drama? Part of every hero’s journey in storytelling is overcoming some internal flaw — fear, over-confidence, lack of empathy, etcetera. In When Harry Met Sally, the leads don’t want to admit they love each other because they’re afraid it will jeopardize the friendship they already have. Or there are significant outside forces keeping the couple apart: think Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Rick and Elsa in Casablanca, Johnny Cash and June Carter. Or the protagonists can be flawed and tempted and dysfunctional but fit each other in their dysfunction: Sid and Nancy, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera . . .

If you refuse to show any flaws in either of your romantic leads, what’s the story? Did they make up a fictional nerdy white guy named “Mitt” who comes along and tries to woo Michelle away?

One of the few times you’ll ever see Complex quoted in this newsletter:

I was a bit weary about seeing their lives depicted in film so soon much less as a romantic comedy. Weary because it still feels so soon to be looking back at history as it continues to take place. Curious how people who haven’t even left the White House to start their post-White House lives are already being mythologized . . .

All of Barack’s answers and actions read as perfect, and in that respect, he comes across as the Barack we’ve read in The Audacity of Hope i.e. a skillful politician than say the more complicated youthful figure we read about in Dreams Of My Father. But the intent here is to make them magical. It is largely apolitical. This is more Lifetime on a good night than HBO.

Finally, NRO’s Armond White notes how the characterization takes liberties with history:

Tanne and Sumpter are caught up in a propagandistic MSNBC fantasy. They don’t dare employ the psychological scrutiny that Oliver Stone gave to Richard Nixon in Nixon or George W. Bush in W. Instead, something shiftier occurs: In the community-meeting scene, which presumes Obama’s commitment to grassroots black political causes, he gives purely selfless advice to hoi polloi. “I feel your pain,” he says (mimicking Bill Clinton). “Sometimes it hits me 100 miles away in class in Cambridge.” The Chicagoans ooh-ahh at this suave, manipulative Obama, so unlike the Scolder-in-Chief at those NAACP lectures where Obama dropped his r’s and g’s and affected “black” argot.

Note his answer to the black community folk’s complaints against the white power structure: “We have to understand who they are and what they need.” This explains Obama’s world-conquering strategy, just as it also divulges the film’s objective. Southside with You is conceived to capitalize on what the white power structure needs to believe about the 44th president. The film’s power-elite fantasy includes the community activist’s suggestion about local politics: He advises a vaguely socialist approach to the Democratic system (“Turn self-interest into mutual interest”), and this whips the black Chicagoans into a call-and-response cliché.

ADDENDA: On this week’s pop culture podcast, the painful lesson that every tech upgrade is a downgrade in disguise; the promise and peril of “back to school” season and the eternal national debate about homework; some updates on the True Crime stories Mickey’s been following and the state of the genre, and finally, an expansion of the discussion of Wild Palms and the sense of a casual, zonked-out acceptance of creeping authoritarianism.