Littwin: Has Amnesty Don joined Chuck and Nancy in the Trump base’s unholy trinity?

In the latest episode of America’s Most Embarrassing President, Chuck and Nancy go to the White House to break bread — actually noodles — with  Amnesty Don, Dreamers get a reprieve, Paul Ryan’s hangdog face gets even hang-doggier and Ann Coulter’s head explodes.

Not a bad episode all in all, but one that has the pundits, Trumpologists and White House press team in a dither (a word rarely used since America Was Great The First Time).

I don’t think we need a spoiler alert here. Everyone knows what happened. Over Chinese food, Chuck and Nancy and Amnesty Don agreed to a scheme in which the Dreamers would get full protection under the law and a road to citizenship while the shocked Trump loyalists and Breitbartians and alt-rightists and Tancredistas would get nothing in return other than a few border-security throw-ins. The biggest nothing was, of course, the absence of the border wall, which, depending on your understanding, is either a metaphor or a $25 billion delusion.

The White House press team, with a few assists from Twitter Don himself, jumped in with a, uh, range of explanations. The first was that a path to citizenship for Dreamers can’t be amnesty because Donald Trump doesn’t believe in amnesty. The second was that Trump didn’t cave on the border wall because eventually there will be a big and beautiful wall and someone, maybe not Mexico, will pay for it. Meanwhile, we’re doing beautiful renovations on the current wall, which is definitely not a fence and probably not a metaphor, whatever that means.

In other words, granting amnesty is not granting amnesty and not building a wall is building a wall. George Orwell, call your office.

So, we know what Trump did. What we don’t know is exactly why he did it or what it means for Trump’s anti-illegal-immigrant, often-anti-legal-immigrant, definitely-pro-wall base.

I think the why is easy.

Trump wanted to stick it to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who have embarrassed him by not passing any of his no-signature legislation. He also got to stick it to Jeff Sessions, whom he apparently just enjoys humiliating. This is vintage, straight-on Trump vindictiveness. I mean, he gets a DACA deal in eight minutes over dinner with Democrats while Republicans can’t repeal Obamacare in eight months. And as a bonus, it’s a warning, too, to Republicans: If you don’t stop me now, there’s no telling where I’ll go.

It’s sort of the same strategy he’s using with North Korea, the main difference being that Mitch McConnell doesn’t have any nukes. And who can even guess what Trump might do next — join Bernie Sanders on single-payer? Admit that his voter-fraud panel is the real fraud? Figure out something for Ivanka to do other than walk in to signal the end of meetings?

Or he could just admit that Schumer and Pelosi had played him and that when he made the agreement, he didn’t understand the difference between citizenship and legal residence. As he told reporters on his trip to Florida, he wasn’t looking at citizenship at all. There’s a question now, as the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza points out, whether the deal will actually hold up.

OK, as Democrats were laughing and Chuck Schumer was caught  on a hot mic saying that “He likes us. He likes me, anyway,” Coulter was calling for impeachment, Breitbart had pinned Amnesty Don on Trump and Tom Tancredo was asking people whether he should run for governor. (Tom: Yes, please. For me.) Even Sean Hannity came very near to criticizing Trump before, finally, coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t Trump’s fault. He blamed it instead on congressional Republicans, who, he tweeted, “wanted him to fail and now pushed him into arms of political suicide—IF TRUE.”

But does this mean that Iowa congressman Steve “Calves the Size of Cantaloupes” King is right that the base won’t stand for this? My first instinct is to guess that, as in all things, King is wrong. But in this case, it’s not a sure thing.

If there’s anything we’ve learned about the base is that the base, which makes up most of Trump’s support at this point, is loyal. And if there’s anything we know about Trump, who has taken about a dozen different positions on DACA, it’s that he’ll feed the base whatever he has to, even if it means directly contradicting whatever he has just said, to maintain that loyalty. The theory here, along the lines of whether to take Trump seriously or literally, is that the base is much more concerned about what Trump says, or tweets, than what he does.

Which is why Trump was all over Twitter Friday morning, jumping on an apparent terrorist attack in London by calling it terrorism before the British did, embarrassing Prime Minister Teresa May in the process, and then slamming Scotland Yard, as Trump tweeted that the London police had had the “loser terrorist …in its sights” and needed to be “proactive.” Remember when Trump said about Charlottesville that he needed to know the facts before speaking?

He followed that with advocating for his “travel ban,” tweeting: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific —but stupidly that would not be politically correct!”

That’s the pre-Dreamer Trump in top form, even calling on his old pal, political correctness. It’s not the Amnesty Don who had tweeted the morning after his stunning agreement, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..”

Yes, really. Millions of them, apparently. And most of them voted for No-Amnesty Don, leaving Trump in yet another fix. Which, I believe, is where this episode began.

Pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC. on March 4, 2017. Photo by Ted Eytan, via Flickr: Creative Commons


  1. Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. –


    It seems like just last month Mr. Littwin was gleefully celebrating what he felt was a staggeringly inept President Trump:

    “He can’t get healthcare reform or much of anything else though Congress. He can’t seem to be able to intimidate North Korea. He can’t stop Robert Mueller’s investigation. He can’t stop the Washington Post and New York Times from trading blockbuster stories on the Russia connection. He can’t get Mexico or Congress or anyone else to pay for his wall. He can’t find a single poll to tweet that doesn’t show his ratings in free fall. He can’t get his Secretary of Defense to enact his bigoted transgender ban. He can’t get his top officials to stop disavowing his Charlottesville both-sidereal. He can’t stop scientists from pointing to climate change and the predictions that storms would become ever more severe.”

    Oh wait, it was just last month which begs the question: What changed? Gone is the sneering, condescending tone that normally accompanies any and all of Mr. Littwin’s discussions of President Trump. Does Mr. Littwin believe a political alliance between Chuck, Nancy and President Trump is viable and has a reasonable chance of achieving a lopsided Democrat victory “in which the Dreamers would get full protection under the law and a road to citizenship while (Republicans) would get nothing in return.”? Is that why Mr. Littwin’s chronic pessimism about anything related to President Trump has turned to a guarded optimism? Or does he believe Chuck and Nancy are dancing with the devil?

    Why does Mr. Littwin believe President Trump will be any more successful in this legislative attempt than he has been in the past? And why, when Republicans control Congress, does Mr. Littwin believe Congress will now give President Trump something he wants when the past seven months suggest otherwise?

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that not everyone agrees with Mr. Littwin’s assertion that President Trump “would get nothing in return other than a few border-security throw-ins”. This from the New York Post:

    “Trump is exploiting “resistance” Democrats’ obsession with fighting The Wall to get funds for the Border Patrol and so on: That’s a win. And it gets another issue out of the way so Congress can focus on tax reform to get the economy moving again, with the minority party possibly jolted out of the “obstruct everything” habit it’s been in all year.”

    And there’s this from

    “But the sudden burst of bipartisanship could be perilous for Democrats. Already, immigration activists and Hispanic lawmakers are worried Democratic leaders will give too much ground in any deal to protect Dreamers. Progressives are also chiding Schumer and Pelosi for “normalizing” Trump, a man the party intends to run against hard in 2018 and 2020.”

    Is Mr. Littwin at all concerned about “normalizing” President Trump? Just asking.

    Two things must be pointed out:

    – This is not the first time, and it won’t be the last, when Mr. Littwin has flip-flopped on either his opinion of a person or a concept (think former FBI Director James Comey or Senate filibuster). Consistency is not one of Mr. Littwin’s diminishing and barely perceptible strengths.

    – In the past year Mr. Littwin has described President Trump as:

    — “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.”

    — “a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.”

    So is Mr. Littwin now saying that he has no reservations about Chuck and Nancy making an agreement with a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist, the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party and a man whose presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger?

    It seems unlikely he will provide an answer because Mr. Littwin simply ignores uncomfortable questions. But maybe he’ll answer this one: Does Mr. Littwin believe that Democrats constitute two-thirds of an unholy trio?

    On second thought, he probably won’t answer that one either.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

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