Again and again, Donald Trump has proven himself to be a figure outside the norms of politics, diplomacy, and human decency. Yet, certain members of the press keep trying to convince us that he has the capacity to transform himself into a conventional public figure.
During the 2016 primaries, there was a popular notion in circulation that Trump would eventually “pivot” to some approximation of normalcy — of course, no pivot ever occurred. And now, every few days, some journalist or other will proclaim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Trump is evolving, that he’s turned over a new leaf, that he is, at last, a real president.
Will this speculative-fiction madness ever end?
We here at Daily Intelligencer stumbled on a portal to 2018 and discovered an article that may hold the answer.
June 19, 2018
Donald Trump’s Tuesday visit to a prison operated by the new Undocumented Immigrant Crime Highlighting Office showed a softer, more merciful side of the president, one rarely seen during his increasingly frequent, rage-fueled tweetstorms and rallies. And it put on display the kind of focus and deft human touch that might yet salvage Trump’s presidency.
Escorted by Deputy Immigrant Crime Punisher David Clarke, a clearly awed Trump was treated to a grand tour of the facility, which included the mess hall, the exercise yard, and what’s known as the “Lights Always on Room,” where immigrants are dispatched when they commit infractions, which can range from reading to inquiring about the timing of their oft-delayed trials.
For the most part, Trump adopted a sober countenance throughout his trip. But he did seem to delight in the sights and sounds of the place, at one point playfully running a warden’s baton across several inmates’ prison bars for about ten seconds as the assembled staff broke out in laughter and spontaneous applause.
In a brief address to the inmates, President Trump praised the “huge, and I do mean huge” crowd there to see him and remarked, “What you did was very, very bad. But maybe something good can come from it. Very, very good.” He then launched into an anecdote connecting what he called the “scourge” of immigrant crime with an incident in which Rosie O’Donnell snubbed him at New York’s 21 Club in 1997.
Other than that, though, the president shied away from discursiveness, exhibiting a laserlike focus that recalled the finest moments of past presidential heavyweights like Abraham Lincoln and FDR. The issue of immigrant crime clearly animates Trump; at times, as he listened to officers’ description of their jobs, he nodded repeatedly and followed up with incisive, thoughtful questions like, “What’s that?” and “Why?”
With his approval rating holding steady at 29 percent, Trump is looking for a respite after a rough spring that saw the intensification of Robert Mueller’s investigation; persistent rumblings of impeachment if Democrats take the House in November; and a damaging, ongoing public feud with the estate of Harriet Tubman. The controversial plan to open a prison for undocumented immigrants who have been suspected of crimes, put forth by Trump advisor Stephen Miller, was an attempt to appease Trump’s restive base. But, as evidenced by his visit, it also offers a chance for Trump to heal the divisions that have come to define everyday American life.
Some of Trump’s few remaining allies said they liked what they saw on Tuesday.
“This is a new Trump,” said Newt Gingrich. “Look, the guy’s only been on the job for 17 months. Understandably, there’s going to be a learning curve.”
“Donald Trump loves all Americans,” said Don King. “He’s always been very nice to me.”
Tuesday may well be the first sign that Trump is finally growing into the office.
On Wednesday morning, though, the president may have undermined his newfound sense of decorum, tweeting at Harriet Tubman’s great-great granddaughter that her ancestor was a “loser” who “bearly rescued anyone.”