Has Donald Trump made his first serious boo-boo of the campaign?
For weeks, the media have trumpeted the supposed death of the Trump campaign. First, they claimed, Trump’s campaign imploded on launch thanks to his comments about illegal immigration. Then they claimed that Trump was finished because of his slap at Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) war service. But neither of those comments alienated Trump’s base – he’s maintained his seven point lead over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in the 2016 presidential polls, with no other candidate breaking double-digits in the polls. In fact, his original comments about illegal immigration launched his candidacy to prominence, with many Americans relieved that a major candidate had finally touched the media third rail and talked openly about illegal immigrant criminality.
Now, however, Trump may have damaged himself with the very people excited by his candidacy. Asked point blank about his immigration policy, Trump dropped the brashness and the blurting, and suddenly went completely Hillary-vague on CNN. After blathering about deporting criminal illegal immigrants – even President Obama pays lip service to this idea – Trump continued:
We have to bring great people into this country, okay? And I want to bring — I love the idea of immigration, but it’s got to be legal immigration. Now, a lot of these people are helping us, whether it’s the grapes, or whether it’s jobs, and sometimes it’s jobs, in all fairness, I love our country, but sometimes it’s jobs that a citizen of the United States doesn’t want to do. I mean, there are jobs that a lot of people don’t want to do. I want to move them out, and we’re going to move them back in, and let them be legal, but they have to be in here legally.…Otherwise, you don’t have a country. You don’t have a country, if people can just pour into the country illegally, you don’t have a country, but I would expedite the system.
Trump later stated he would give such illegal immigrants “legal status” but not citizenship, then said that “later down the line, who knows what’s going to happen…[citizenship is] something I would think about, but I would say right now no. I’m not open to it. I would say legal status.” With regard to President Obama’s so-called DREAMERs, Trump explained with remarkable vacuity:
We’re going to do something. I’ve been giving it so much thought, you know you have a — on a humanitarian basis, you have a lot of deep thought going into this, believe me. I actually have a big heart.…I mean, a lot of people don’t understand that, but the DREAMers, it’s a tough situation, we’re going to do something, and one of the things we’re going to do is expedite — when somebody’s terrific, we want them back here, but they have to be legally…They’re with their parents, it depends. But, look, it sounds cold, and it sounds hard. But, we have a country, our country’s going to hell. We have to have a system where people are legally in our country.
Trump said he would be able to expedite the system because other politicians are dumb: “Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out. It’s feasible if you know how to manage. Politicians don’t know how to manage.”
If this sounds incoherent, that’s because it’s more incoherent than a raging alcoholic after a night of shots who just crashed his Chevy Impala into a lamppost. Trump isn’t famous for his well-considered, well-informed policy proposals. Perhaps this is why.
Let’s break down what Trump is actually saying here. Over the course of just a few minutes, Trump says America should: (1) Deport everyone; (2) Reimport nearly everyone; (3) Expedite the system to accomplish (2); (4) Allow everyone who came back in via (2) to gain legal status; (5) Perhaps give them citizenship; (6) Perhaps not give them citizenship; (7) Do “something” with DREAMers.
For those who aren’t watching closely, Trump’s plan almost exactly mirrors George W. Bush’s infamous amnesty plan of 2007. Under that plan, Bush pledged to solidify the border; utilize e-verify; create a temporary worker program; reject legal status for illegal immigrants who did not learn English, pay their taxes, pass a background check, and hold a job for years; and send all illegal immigrants seeking citizenship to the back of the line. This, by the way, is also Jeb Bush’s plan. The only real difference is that Trump says he wants to temporarily deport everyone, then let everyone back in because illegal immigrants do “jobs that a citizen of the United States doesn’t want to do.” And he says he wants to do “something” for DREAMers by using his managerial skills to expedite the process.
Trump’s charm in the race thus far springs from his willingness to spill his guts, without reference to the typical politically correct jargon that dominates the Republican caucus. Even Republicans who don’t like Trump have been able to contrast his openness with the ridiculous opacity of Hillary Clinton, who said on Wednesday, for example, that she would not explain her position on Keystone XL pipeline until she was elected.
Now, Trump appears to be playing something of the same game on immigration. Of course, he’s already played that game with regard to ISIS; he said he had a secret plan to destroy them, then spilled the beans and announced that he would bomb the oil fields, not put troops on the ground, put oil workers on the ground, and then have to put troops on the ground. He’s criticized Obamacare, but also said that he wants nationalized healthcare. His latest expressed tax plan, circa 2011, embraces higher taxes. But we have no clue what his plans are on these issues as of this moment, because Trump probably doesn’t know.
Trump has now gone as far as he can go without having to express exactly what he would do. The time is quickly approaching when, if Trump wants to maintain his support, he’ll have to actually enlighten us as to what President Trump’s America would look like, beyond magnificent golf courses and top-flight hotels.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.