President Trump traveled to Long Island today to give a speech to a gathering of law enforcement officers. As apparently the entire journalism world has forgotten how to write a basic lede (who, what, where, when, why), I can’t tell you what the occasion was. Only that Trump was there, the smoldering hulk of his chief of staff was there, and controversy was there.
This is the speech in full.
The speech mirrored a lot of what was said at yesterday’s White House briefing about the administration targeting the Central American (mostly Salvadoran) street gang Mara Salvatrucha, aka MS-13. This is an inspired strategy from several perspectives. First, most MS-13 members are deportable and they are criminal. If you want to build the narrative of the criminal illegal, MS-13 is the face you slap on it. MS-13 is dangerous and involved in trafficking arms, women, drugs, and will probably be labeled a terrorist organization by Justice in the very near future. And the immigrant community knows how bad MS-13 is and are its primary victims, so ICE can wear the white hat every once in a while.
Behind the policy veneer was a disavowal of every action Obama took in the last eight years. And it generated cries of Armageddon on the left,
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Keep these headlines in mind as you continue to read.
Personally I have to think that even the dimmest cop knows that a Trump speech is not going to be much of a legal defense, but the tone said very firmly that this White House will not be sending staff to the funeral of the next Michael Brown, his administration won’t be fomenting riots and coddling the BLM bunch, and Trayvon Martin is not going to bear a family resemblance. To say his audience loved it is an understatement.
Here we go (full transcript)
A dig at Obama.
And I don’t think you know how much the public respects and admires you. You’re saving American lives every day, and we have your backs — believe me — we have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days. (Applause.)
A dig at NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio
For many years, they exploited America’s weak borders and lax immigration enforcement to bring drugs and violence to cities and towns all across America. They’re there right now because of weak political leadership, weak leadership, weak policing, and in many cases because the police weren’t allowed to do their job. I’ve met police that are great police that aren’t allowed to do their job because they have a pathetic mayor or a mayor doesn’t know what’s going on. (Applause.)
Were you applauding for someone in particular? (Laughter.) It’s sad. It’s sad. You look at what’s happening, it’s sad.
And cue the outrage:
Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)
And a line that could have been said by basically any Republican politician since 1968:
And I have to tell you, you know, the laws are so horrendously stacked against us, because for years and years they’ve been made to protect the criminal. Totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers. If you do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws. But in the meantime, we need judges for the simplest thing — things that you should be able to do without a judge. But we have to have those judges quickly. In the meantime, we’re trying to change the laws.
When judged against a speech by a, well, ‘normal’ politician, I think this is pretty unremarkable stuff. It was a pep rally for police officers. When measured against the standard of what Trump has been known to say, this is really small beer. I doubt that there will be a spectacular increase in the number of heads hitting the doors of police cruisers or of “brake checks” and, more to the point, I don’t think the average person is going to take the part of members of a vicious street gang, which is what we are being asked to do.