In the midst of reports of the president’s unfortunate reference to immigration from “s---hole” countries, the PBS NewsHour analysts were agreeing with each other on everything on Friday, but NPR’s Week in Review segment brought listeners an actual debate. Conservative Orange County Register columnist John Phillips was back to shock NPR snobs with a pro-Trump set of arguments.
First, he made a reference to the crude comedian Andrew Dice Clay: "I don't think anyone's all that surprised frankly because President Andrew Dice Trump has been known to pepper his language with vulgarities on occasion. It happened when he was a real estate developer and in the tabloids. It happened when he was a television host. It happened during the primary campaign. So I don't think anyone is truly surprised.”
But then he suggested Trump was only staying true to his campaign on immigration policy:
He was highly critical of the lottery program. He was highly critical about giving preferential treatment to the hard luck cases. He has long thought that people with marketable skills, people with the ability to assimilate should be given preferential treatment. And frankly, I think there's a lot of truth to that. We live in a screwed-up world, where doctors from India or IT people from Britain are treated worse than the Tsarnaev family.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne went first and asserted there was no doubt Trump is a racist, and then was quick to challenge Phillips:
I got to jump in on that. If this were simply a matter of the president using a vulgarity, we wouldn't be talking about it. Other politicians have used vulgarities. This was a racist vulgarity. This was directed at people who have immigrated here. And by the way, it was an ignorant vulgarity because so many of the immigrants from Haiti and from Africa and from Salvador have been very successful, are very hard working.
Phillips warned Republicans not to repeat old mistakes: "I hope that Alan Simpson gave him a good, long talking to because what Democrats are proposing now is what failed with the 1980s Simpson-Mazzoli immigration act, which is where President Reagan gave amnesty to a lot of illegal immigrants who were here. And in return, border security was supposed to come afterwards. Well, as we know, the immigrants were given their amnesty. Border Security never came. And if Donald Trump is going to cut a deal with the Democrats and cut a deal with congressional Republicans this time around, border security needs to come first, and that includes the wall."
In conclusion, Dionne insisted “I think the politics have changed radically in the Democrats' favor, and I think Republicans know this.”
Phillips wouldn’t agree, saying “there's still a lot of pressure on any number of Senate Democrats who are running for re-election in states that Donald Trump won overwhelmingly, people like Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Strict border security needs to be part of this bill, and they need to be able to sell that to their constituents if they're going to survive re-election.”