comScore Muslim Ban 2 Stopped, Trump Doesn't Get Words Mean Things | The Mary Sue
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Trump Muslim Ban 2 Shut Down Because He Still Doesn’t Understand His Words Mean Things

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Last night, a federal judge in Hawaii shut down Trump’s second attempt at a “legal” way to do the Muslim ban he proposed on the campaign trail, according to his own team. Hint: There’s no legal way to discriminate based on religion once you’ve told everyone that’s your plan.

Trump fans have complained about the use of the term “Muslim Ban” to describe his two attempts to ban people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. However, that’s the way the law sees it, as Trump’s own team made statements about the first one that confirmed that was the intent of the policy, even though it didn’t ban all Muslims. Trump himself—aside from already having promised a Muslim ban during the campaign and precluding all of this anyway—even mentioned prioritizing Christian refugees, as if completely bent on making his true intentions clear.

After the original was struck down, it seems that his team didn’t learn their lesson. In the lead up to the second attempt, Trump advisor Stephen Miller explicitly stated that the second ban would have the “same basic policy outcome” as the first. When your first policy, shot down by the courts, is found to be based on religious discrimination, it’s not exactly wise to state that your second try will accomplish the same goal if you want it to stand up in court.

Then, Trump himself chimed in again at one of his rallies—which I guess he’s still holding—last night, saying, “The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.” He added, “And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.” So once again, he’s removed all doubt that this is an attempt to accomplish the same goal—as much discrimination as “legally” possible—while getting around those pesky judges.

Thankfully, the courts seem to be fulfilling their task of balancing the executive branch at the moment, with Judge Derrick Watson deciding that all these statements together amount to a policy based on religious discrimination rather than national security and striking down the ban’s implementation hours before it was to go into effect. Now, another judge from Maryland has joined in halting the new ban.

This ban is terrible, and the rulings halting it are great, but this is all emblematic of one of Trump’s biggest shortcomings as president: He just doesn’t seem to understand that his words matter. He thinks that he can do things the same way he did as a private citizen and say whatever he wants just to change his tune later and obfuscate the truth until it doesn’t matter anymore. A president can’t do that, because people can and will catalogue his words and expect him to live up to them—or use them as evidence of his bad intentions.

We’ve seen the same behavior, for example, with the unsubstantiated claims of President Obama tapping Trump’s phones. He’s since claimed that putting the specific wire tapping terms in quotes means he wasn’t specifically talking about … actual wire tapping. However, one of his own tweets explicitly claims that Obama tapped his phones and does not use the quotation marks: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” There’s nothing unclear about that accusation. He’s very specifically claiming President Obama had his phones tapped, and now he wants to convince everyone he meant something else because it’s more convenient for him that way.

It’s exactly the same kind of nonsense as his sentiments about the Affordable Care Act, which he’s said Republicans should purposefully tank and then blame Democrats for its failure—except that now that he told everyone whose fault that would really be, that’s not who the blame would fall on. What we’re seeing now is what happens when a pathological liar becomes the most scrutinized person in the country—and it isn’t good. On the other hand, Trump’s words are so bad that we’d also really prefer if he truly (not just “legally”) changed his mind on them, as evidenced by the terrible budget he also just revealed, but that’s a story for another post.

(image via a katz / Shutterstock.com)

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