Trump Can Be His Own Worst Enemy
His Twitter tirade about the temporary travel ban hurt his case. He needs to stop the self-destructive behavior.
President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban has been the subject of much consternation for several months. After he issued a lawful (if ill-conceived) order regarding incoming travel from several dangerous Islamic countries, a lawless judiciary struck it down based not on the order but on Trump’s campaign statements about Muslims. So he tried again with a revised order that attempted to address the judicial concerns. That too was struck down, and Trump is now appealing to the Supreme Court.
But shortly after announcing the appeal, he proceeded to shoot himself in the foot with another Twitter tirade. “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want,” Trump tweeted. “I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” He added, “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”
Where to begin? He signed off on the revised order, but he’s throwing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the DOJ under the bus. That kind of buck-passing was pathetic when Barack Obama did it, and it’s no less so now. The revision was not “watered down,” either, but on better legal footing than the original. The Wall Street Journal notes, “Had the White House done such legal due diligence in the first place, the travel ban might not have become a political bonfire — not least because the President enjoys wide constitutional and statutory discretion over immigration and national security.”
Worse, his legal team has already had a tough time with judges who’d rather look at his campaign rhetoric than the actual executive order. Trump just made his defense harder.
We’ll give him one thing: He is absolutely right about courts being “slow and political,” though even there he could help by moving to fill the 131 federal judicial vacancies instead of starting Twitter firestorms.
Some constructive criticism (again) for the president: Yes, Twitter helps him reach his base, and it’s very likely most grassroots folks see this as Trump speaking truth to corruption. But he needs a legal win on the policy, not accolades from people who already voted for him. Set petty social media posts aside and govern.
We suppose the good news is that there are more effective security strategies than this temporary travel ban — better vetting, for example, which the ban was supposed to provide time to accomplish — so even if Justice Neil Gorsuch writes the unanimous majority opinion striking it down, Trump won’t be out of options.