In Defying the Odds, we discuss issues such as trade and immigration. The update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
At NYT, Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis report on an Oval Office meeting from March:
Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.
...Nick Miroff at WP:
“You are making me look like an idiot!” Mr. Trump shouted, adding in a profanity, as multiple officials in the room described it. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”
Nearly six months after taking over the Department of Homeland Security as acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan has guided the United States out of a crisis at the southern border, but he also says he has lost command of the public messaging from his department and lacks some of the authority he was promised when he took the job.
“What I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That’s uncomfortable, as the accountable, senior figure.”
While he and others embrace the White House’s rhetoric on immigration, McAleenan distances himself from it, at the risk of appearing insufficiently committed to the president.
McAleenan avoids the term “illegal aliens,” speaking instead of “migrants” and “vulnerable families.” Though “alien” is a U.S. legal term, McAleenan said the way people hear it carries “political, emotional and racial” overtones.
“I think the words matter a lot,” McAleenan said. “If you alienate half of your audience by your use of your terminology, it’s going to hamper your ability to ever win an argument.”