Embarking on her flight to visit children whom her husband had snatched from their parents, first lady Melania Trump donned a jacket with this message plastered on the back: “I really don’t care. Do U?” (Apparently, Zara charges $39 for such things.) She either didn’t bother to think about her sartorial choice (a first for the woman with outfits that cost more than most people’s cars) or wanted to send a weird message to someone. Her husband? The press? Her office denied there was any message, but the president soon contradicted her, insisting the jacket slogan was meant as a slam at the media. The message on her jacket, he said, “refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
In one fell swoop, President Donald Trump turned his wife into a liar (no message, she claimed through her office) and suggested she was using a tragedy for a self-centered message painting her and her husband as victims. Trump, in other words, dragged her down into the sewer of self-indulgence in which he paddles. Trump specializes in debasing, insulting and embarrassing those around him; now we see Melania Trump is no exception.
Then on early Friday, the congressional Republicans got their legs cut out from under them. The president tweeted that they should “stop wasting time on immigration” until after the November elections.
The Washington Post, in turn, reported: “Trump’s tweet, GOP aides said, could make the task of corralling votes for the [immigration] bill significantly more difficult heading into the weekend, though House Republican leaders said negotiations would continue.”
In a later tweet, Trump also accused Democrats of telling “phony stories of sadness and grief” to help gain the upper hand in this year’s elections.
If he wants to talk about “grief,” I would challenge Trump to go and see the children for himself. (By the way, preventing suffering was the supposed reason he reversed policy. If he thinks it is all an act, why stop?)
Trump went from insisting Congress had to solve the border mess to signing an executive order to end family separation (i.e. the abduction and separation of children from those claiming asylum under our laws) to telling them to pass comprehensive reform to telling them to forget it because he thinks the GOP will win big in November. Sure, that’s the ticket. Understand he is instructing Republicans not to make any bargain and preemptively withholding support from anything they would come up with. What happened to the art of the deal?
In throwing a grenade into the House GOP conference, Trump has underscored Republicans’ total inability to govern. The hard-line bill that came up for a vote on Thursday lost 40 GOP votes; the slightly more moderate version pleased so few that the vote had to be called off.
Unfortunately, moderate Republicans who combined with Democrats on a discharge petition were suckered into dropping their demand for a vote on a bill that in all likelihood would pass the House (i.e., end family separation, citizenship for “dreamers,” money for the wall). Maybe they will now go back to the discharge option.
Trump also ensured that - unless he plans on shutting down the government at the end of the fiscal year - not an inch of the wall would be built before Republicans face the voters. Thanks to the president, Republicans managed to convince a majority of voters they are monsters and the rest that they are incompetent. It’s almost as if Trump wants them to lose in November.
Jennifer Rubin is a columnist with The Washington Post.