Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Ne-ve-r mind." . . . Trump's humiliating defeat.

Donald Trump pinned his hope for early success in his presidency on the Blitzkreig of his hastily and clumsily imposed travel ban from seven mostly-Muslim countries -- a Muslim ban in all but name.

Shot down by the courts and proven to have no rational basis in actual data, Trump's advisers convinced him to withdraw the original ban, which was still tied up in multiple court cases, and go back to the drawing board.

Announced dates for release of the new plan came and went.  Rumors of the terms kept getting narrower.   Yesterday it was finally released, in all of its inglorious, watered-down, almost meaningless version.

It's been described by some as a "backdown of monumental proportions" and "a major political defeat for the Trump administration."

Uncharacteristically, its signing had little fanfare;  no cameras were even present.   Here's what this new version does:

1.   The only travelers now banned are those without visas from six nations -- Iraq has been removed from the list.   The order does not apply to green card holders or permanent, legal U.S. residents.    No big deal:   people from those countries already are required to have a visa.

2.  Inflammatory language, like "extreme vetting" and "radical Islamic terrorists," has been removed.

3.  There is a 10 day period before it goes into effect, unlike the first version which was imposed without warning or preparation and rationalized by supposedly dire risk of terrorist ready to stream into our country.

4.  There is no singling out of refugees from Syria for different treatment, although the numbers of refugees accepted in the U.S. is still reduced from 110,000 to 50,000 per year.

5.  Any exceptions that apply to a particular religious group have been removed.

6.  Iraqis who worked with the U.S. military in Iraq are eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa.

That's about it.   All in all, this whole thing now looks like it does very little and could have been just avoided altogether.   Of course, it was primarily a political stunt -- but it hurt a lot of people.  And it still carries the taint that it originated in anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Trump campaign.

I suppose this "revised" ban does provide a little bit of face-saving for Trump in a humiliating defeat.   But, truth be told, they could have just shelved the whole thing and said the line made famous by Saturday Night Live's late, great Gilda Radner:

"Ne-ve-r mind."

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