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The Quality of Trump’s Mercy

It is the thought that counts-not the amount that funded the thought.  I refer, of course, to the extraordinarily generous offer of DJT to give to Hurricane Harvey flood relief, $1 million of his “personal money,” as spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described it in a  meeting with reporters at the White House on August 31st.  Sanders said that DJT had not yet decided to what specific charities he wants to give the money.  She said he was soliciting advice from the purveyors of what he has repeatedly called “fake news” who were at the meeting.  As she explained: “He’s actually asked that I check with the folks in this room since you are very good at research and have been doing a lot of reporting into the groups and organizations that are best and most effective in helping and providing aid.  He’d like some suggestions from the folks here, and I’d be happy to take those if any of you have them.”

If DJT’s annual income is $60 million, as some reports say, it would mean that DJT is giving away slightly less than 5 days’ worth of income.  Of course, since he lives in the White House at taxpayer expense, the loss of $1 million for a 5-day period is not going to have a huge impact on him or his family, so it is not as great a sacrifice as it at first appeared.  And then, of course, there is the question of whether he’ll in fact make the gift.  Last year he promised to make a gift of $1 million of his own money and $5 million he said he had raised, to veterans’ organizations.  Because of what must have been merely an oversight, the gifts were not made until reporters’ asked him, months after he’d made the promise, who the recipients of the funds were.  And for what were surely good and sufficient reasons, the amounts given were less than the promised $6 million. None of that is, of course, meant to detract from the enormous generosity his promised $1 million gift for Hurricane Harvey victims demonstrates.  The early estimates of the cost of Hurricane Harvey is $190 billion and as those affected by Harvey would surely say, every penny given for flood relief helps.  DJT has given his penny.

DJT’s penny does not simply go a long way towards helping flood victims.  It goes a long way towards showing that, executive actions suggesting otherwise notwithstanding, DJT is deeply concerned about people. Showing that concern and compassion was needed when, less than a week after announcing his generous gift to hurricane relief, DJT sent a surly surrogate, Jeff Sessions, (a poor substitute for a tweet), to announce that DJT was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program known as “DACA, “that had been created by President Obama.  It was created because Congress refused to enact legislation to address the plight of immigrant children brought into this country as youngsters by their parents.  Those children had no contact with the countries from which they were brought and, in many cases, do not even know the language in their home countries.  Eliminating the program, even though postponing the effective date for six months, introduces a plague of uncertainty into the lives of those who have been beneficiaries of the program. Many of them work in medicine, law and other occupations, or are in college or secondary school hoping to complete their educations.  They are now confronted with the terrible uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds for them.

The rescinding of that program is not approved by all Republicans.  In expressing his opposition to the elimination of DACA, Senator Orrin Hatch (R. Utah) said that rescinding DACA would “further complicate a system in need of a permanent legislative solution” that, he said, should come from Congress. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R. Wisconsin) also said that DACA should not be eliminated but that Congress should come up with a permanent solution.  In a radio interview, he said it was up to Congress to determine how immigrants who had enrolled in DACA should be treated. Senator John McCain (R. AZ.) said it was the wrong approach to immigration policy and risked sending innocent children out of the country.

The lives of 787,000 people (as of March 2017) will be affected when the program is ended.  They are the people who are now protected by its provisions. They may recall, ruefully, that before ending the program, DJT had repeatedly said that:  “We love the dreamers.  We love everybody” and, “I think the dreamers are terrific.”  The Dreamers might have taken comfort from those words before the end of the program was announced.  Had they done so, they should have considered by whom those words were spoken.  DJT had certainly expressed similar sentiments to his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends before leaving them.  The ex-wives were, of course, better off than the Dreamers.  They got alimony and property settlements. The Dreamers are left with only memories.

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