“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov
The Trip of No Return
Despite a border on the verge of collapse, (now) former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen left Washington last Sunday for what she assumed would be a typical, cushy week-long trip to Europe on the taxpayer dime. While there, Nielsen planned to discuss cybersecurity and terror threats with senior UK and Swedish government officials, and attend a meeting of G7 interior ministers in Paris.
From the looks of various reports, that trip might have been the last straw for a cabinet member already skating on thin ice. A rocky week ended on Sunday evening with her abrupt resignation after meeting with PDT in the White House. According to cross-verified sources, Nielsen did not resign willingly, but was able to read the writing on the #BigBeautifulWall.
A Victory for Hawks?
The best reporting indicates that this move was being pushed by immigration hardliners inside the president’s inner circle, specifically national security adviser John Bolton (Yes, he’s a neocon and also a border hawk. Life is strange) and senior adviser Stephen Miller, both of whom having been very vocal about her weakness for months.
By all accounts, Nielsen was fresh outta friends in the West Wing, particularly following last year’s departure of chief of staff John Kelly, who had been her best (and possibly only) advocate in the White House. Kelly got her the job in the first place, after all. Nielsen has reportedly had fallings out with Kelly’s replacement, budget nerd Mick Mulvaney, but their disagreements weren’t the likely impetus for her departure. Stephen Miller openly complained about her to the President. But her biggest foe appears to be Bolton, who, according to multiple sources from multiple outlets, often criticized Nielsen for how she was handling immigration issues face to face and had no hesitation about expressing his reservations openly in front of PDT.
All these factors taken together made Nielsenâ€™s continued presence as the head of DHS untenable, and the president knew it.
While it’s encouraging to see PDT act on the recommendations of border hawks within his administration (the few that exist), the truth is, firing Nielsen won’t really change anything.
She may be disconnected-or worse, disingenuous-regarding the problems at the border, but at the end of the day, she’s handcuffed by the laws handed down from Congress, just as her replacement will be. Thanks to an asylum policy that gives deportation immunity to anyone who manages to drag a kid with them to the border and catch-and-release polices enabled by limited detention space, migrants are headed north with full confidence that they’ll make it into the good ole USA.
Thanks to the executive decision to hand immigration to Paul Ryan for the first 2 years of the Trump presidency, we’re averaging upwards of 100,000 migrants coming monthly and expect to receive over a million by year’s end, unless policies change, of course.
Will those policies change, given that we now have a Democrat-controlled House? Well, it will be tough. But I do know this — we don’t have a chance until White House messaging becomes centered on the real causes of our border crisis. And if and when we do get Democrats to the table to fix this atrocity, we’re going to have to be ready to give something up. That’s politics. The key will be PDT making the case to his base that whatever he gives was worth it. Given the seriousness of the situation and the hardline immigration stance of his base, he’s likely to find a receptive ear so long as the compromise is somewhat reasonable.
Unfortunately, with the young Marxists driving the narrative on the Dim side, a reasonable compromise is contingent upon Pelosi getting the spine to tell the kids to shut up while the adults are talking. And that’s far from guaranteed.
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