KEVIN LEININGER: Some of Donald Trump’s critics are making him sound rational by comparison

Is Donald Trump nuts -- or crazy like a fox? (AP photo)
Project Linus Coordinator Joyce Pickett is looking for a new location. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of The News-Sentinel.com)
Kevin Leininger

With enemies like these, who needs friends?

Donald Trump should be asking himself that very question, because every time he says something that invites questions about his judgment if not his sanity, the president’s critics do something to make him seem rational by comparison. This bipartisan psychosis was especially evident in the wake of last week’s State of the Union address.

Was it really treasonous, as Trump suggests, for Democrats to remain mute and in their seats as Republican House and Senate members stood and cheered? If so, Republicans could face a similar charge during Democratic administrations. The Congressional Black Caucus’ refusal to applaud Trump’s reference to historically low black unemployment numbers may have been tragically ironic but it was hardly treasonous.

In years past, a president might have simply shrugged off such a response as normal partisanship. But Trump’s unfortunate and juvenile tendency to personalize differences and insult opponents has been matched and often exceeded by the very people who claim to represent something better.

The ACLU, for example, immediately complained that Trump referred to “America” more than 80 times in his first inaugural address. In a statement, National Political Director Faiz Shakir cautioned that, “after a divisive first year, we hear and feel how exclusionary that ‘America’ is, with policies that have harmed so many vulnerable American communities. In particular, the immigration plan put forth by Trump would hold ‘Dreamers’ hostage to his demands for a harmful border wall.”

Can it get any more bizarre than to see the American Civil Liberties Union condemning references to America while invoking American values in defense of millions of people in the country illegally?

That’s a rhetorical question, as CNN’s Jake Tapper proved by declaring the best and most necessary line in Trump’s speech — “Americans are Dreamers, too” — was somehow offensive.

“Some of the things he said about immigration are going to turn off a lot of people in that chamber,” Tapper said. So-called “Dreamers” refers to hundreds of thousands of people illegally brought to America as children, and Trump has said he is willing to offer a path to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for tough border security and other immigration reforms.

This is all getting truly bizarre, with a president being criticized for insisting the aspirations and needs of his own citizens are at least as important as the desires of people who have no legal right to be here in the first place.

But now, with its usual swiftness and certainty, life has injected some tragic reality into all this foolishness.

There’s no denying Trump has tried to exploit the deaths of former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and another man, who were reportedly killed this week by a 37-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala man who was drunk and had been deported twice only to return. “So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies,” Trump tweeted.

Immigration activists disagreed, of course. “What we should not do is minimize the loss of Mr. Jackson’s life by politicizing the driver’s immigration status. Legal status is not the culprit here; drunk driving is,” said Francine Dash, spokesperson for Faith in Indiana.

But Jackson’s death was indeed preventable, had America simply enforced its immigration laws. Not only has Manuel Orrego-Savala been deported twice, he was convicted of drunken driving in California in 2005. And Orrego-Savala had been charged under another name in Boone County just last year for driving without a license, but the sheriff did not report him to federal immigration officials.

Trump has said he’s willing to risk another government shutdown if Congress does not get serious about securing the border. Does that really make him nuttier than those who see no problem now?

Project Linus update

My November column about Project Linus’ need for a new home generated plenty of responses but, as of yet, no location for the non-profit group that has made and delivered more than 39,000 quilts and blankets to children who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need since 2004. The group still isn’t sure when it will be forced to leave its current location at 2401 Lake Ave., but Coordinator Joyce Pickett said a move may be necessary as soon as next month.

The group is looking for a long-term home containing at least 1,000 square feet but preferably more. If you can help, contact Pickett at pickettjm@hotmail.com or 260-486-2010.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.

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