President Trump meets with lawmakers on immigration policy.
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This, at last, was it — what many of us have been hoping to see for a long time.
The meeting of President Trump with congressional leaders — from both parties — this week was, manifestly, two things: What many voters, especially swing and independent voters, saw in Mr. Trump when they voted for him and what the vast majority of Americans want to see in Washington.
In this meeting we saw the Trump that we do not see on the hustings or in his tweets, the private Trump that his handlers should show to the country more. He was still Donald Trump, and he stood by his basic position on immigration: There must be a secure border and there must be “a wall.”
But we also saw a compromising President — the wall could be partial; it need not cost $18 billion, and it is just as important to him, he said, to keep the Dreamers in the United States as to build the wall.
Indeed, the President seemed to be fashioning before the cameras a grand compromise: We’ll pass a DACA bill, with a wall and an end to chain migration and the visa lottery, and then go to Phase Two — comprehensive immigration reform. It should be a bill of “love,” the President said.
The President ran the meeting with efficiency, diplomacy, and humor. He praised the Democrats in the room and gave them the floor. He was the dealmaker and pragmatist, par excellence, that some hoped he would be. He looked like a New York version of LBJ, not Howard Beale, the angry man yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” in the film Network.
But the whole scene was edifying. Democrats and Republicans were talking to each other, seeing the contours of a deal emerging and seeing something else peak out from behind the clouds of contempt: Trust.
You can’t do any deal with zero trust.
The President says this deal will get done and then there will be a deal on infrastructure.
Will the spirit of goodwill, the era of good feelings, of comity, of deal-making persist? Probably not.
Could it? Absolutely.
The public must make clear that this is what we want: a pragmatic president who gets things done. Not an angry and isolated president.
And the public wants a Congress that works with him, not a Congress that tries to sabotage, demonize, or impeach the President.
Common sense tells anyone this is what most of the nation wants. But so does recent polling and political science.
A president who uses the bully pulpit and twists arms, who is determined and persistent, is very hard for Congress to resist.
But the public must convey to Congress, no matter which party has the majority in the two houses, that it wants progress and compromise, not obstruction.
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