When the media soul-searched for the reason it didn’t see Donald Trump’s victory coming, the best explanation came from the journalist Salena Zito, who told The Atlantic: "The media took Trump literally but not seriously, but his voters took him seriously but not literally."
It’s poetic and pithy and, less than one week into the Trump administration, it seems maybe even Trump’s voters were wrong.
In his first few days, Trump has very literally and seriously executive-ordered his campaign promises into motion, from reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines and dismantling Trans-Pacific Partnership to signing an order to kill Obamacare. And insider reports suggest he’ll do the same for his most controversial items next: Building the wall and implementing a version of a Muslim ban. To top it off, he’s threatening to send "the Feds" to Chicago if the city’s murder rate doesn’t diminish.
This is all music to the ears of his populist base and advisors like Stephen Bannon, but it’s terrifying immigration activists who are throwing their lot in the vast mobilized coalition protesting this new presidency.
Since winning, Trump’s shifted on the funding for his promise from "Mexico will pay" to "Mexico will reimburse" which means, first, our tax dollars will pay. Trump has scheduled a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for next week; Mexico has insisted it will never pay. In any event, Trump insiders say he’ll sign orders to begin construction on the wall soon. (Under the Secure Fence Act, he could divert funds to begin construction along a 700-mile stretch of the border, but he’ll need Congress for the rest.)
Trump's also expected to sign an order effectively ending "sanctuary cities," localities which refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants to federal agents.
This comes as part of an "immigration blitz" from the Trump administration, which will reportedly include a 30-day freeze on visas (for the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) until new visa requirements have been implemented. Given these countries' religious makeup, it’s a de facto Muslim refugee ban, geographically limited to the countries Trump has identified as being "terror prone" — and also those most seeking relief as refugees.
And to cap it off, last night on Twitter, Trump brought "carnage" back, invoking inflammatory language from his Inaugural address to threaten Chicago:
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
"I will send in the Feds" is quite a pivot from the "returning government to the people" theme of his Inaugural speech, though it does square perfectly with the "law and order" theme Trump trotted out at the Republican National Convention.
And while this administration's obsessing over crowd size during this first week suggest a President easily distracte, don't let the commotion bury the lede: This President is motivated and moving toward realizing his Presidential platform.