How Trump Has Already Won on DACA

Donald Trump is many things.  Real estate mogul, self-promoter, long tie enthusiast.  Oh, and President of the United States — he does that, too.  And in that last position, as perhaps in all the others, he is a pragmatist.  And it looks like his pragmatic tact on DACA might pay off for him no matter what Congress decides to do. With any luck it might pay off for the rest of us, too

Last year, Trump put an expiration date on the Obama executive order and called on Congress to take action.  Legally speaking he was on solid ground — whether Obama had authority to implement DACA without Congressional approval was always a highly debatable question, so the next Prez saying he would scale it back and let Congress decide would seem (for a leader who actually cares about such things) like nothing more than good old fashioned adherence to strict Constitutional principles.  But as with most things Trump does, we all know better.

Trump’s repeal of DACA paired with a demand for Congressional action was a smart play from the beginning, and we are now seeing that it may pay off for him if not for anyone else.  Congress will act, or it won’t.  From Trump’s perspective it hardly matters because — in typical Trump fashion — he’s going to wait and see how things pan out, then take credit for the good and shirk responsibility for the bad.

To Trump’s base, he kept his promise by ending DACA — whatever happens next is Congress’ fault.  And to the rest of us, if Congress takes action that proves popular that’ll be to Trump’s credit, too — it’s hard to deny they’re only considering doing anything at all because Trump put them in a position where they need to. And if Congress fumbles the ball and lets DACA expire, leading to disaster, Trump can blame Congress for that, too — after all, he told them to get something done.  It’s a fine strategy.  And not necessarily a bad one, either.  Regardless of his self-serving motives, if Trump’s only real goal is to get credit for doing something the American People like then we should hope he succeeds if only to get something we like.  (And let’s be honest, most world leaders are no less self-serving than Trump, they’re just a lot less blatant about it.)

Trump’s strategy on DACA might ultimately be viewed as one of the great successes of his presidency.  If it works out, that is.  And if it doesn’t, blame Congress.

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