The current Trump upset over the Stupid border Wall is fascinating as a lesson in the danger of making improvident promises that you don’t think you will ever be in a position to break. Presidential candidates do this all the time; I don’t think Trump’s Stupid Wall was even the worst of the 2016 crop. The President almost certainly thought he had no chance of winning when he began promising to build the SW, then doubled down when he said, ridiculously, that he would make Mexico pay for it.
A lie is still a lie when it is said to deceive even if only the gullible and dim will be fooled, as the old Ethics Scoreboard (current down, but it will rise again) used to remind readers when it celebrated such lies in its David Manning Lie of the Month, named after Sony’s fake movie reviewer that Sony argued wasn’t fraudulent since nobody believed those review snippets in movie ads anyway. “Manning” had said that Rob Schneider’s idiotic comedy “The Animal” was a comic masterpiece.
It’s not certain that the President knew the idea of the SW was ridiculous since he is—well, you know. Either way, however, it was a promise that shouldn’t have been made, just like Bernie Sanders’ promise only to appoint SCOTUS justices who would “repeal” Citizens United should never have been made. Luckily for Sanders (and the rest of us), he wasn’t elected, and never had to try to deliver. That’s just moral luck, though. A promise you cannot keep is unethical when you make it, whether your ethical breach is dishonesty or incompetence.
The right thing for the President to do now is to simply admit that the Stupid Wall is not feasible or wise, based on what he now knows. This is how President Obama explained many, though not all, of his broken promises, of which there were many. The SW should be one of the easiest promises to backtrack on, since Trump can truthfully argue that the number of illegal immigrants is already declining due to the stunningly simple policy of not telling eager border-breachers that they are regarded as the salt of the earth and that we welcome them with open arms. Deporting currently illegal residents who either flaunt their illicit status or further abuse it helps a lot. Trump would be speaking the truth to say that we don’t need a Stupid Wall any more, though “any more” would be something of a lie, since we never needed it.
The President’s problem, though, is that this is not the first improvident promise he would be breaking. He, like the Republicans in Congress, promised to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that would be “great” without having given a modicum of thought to how this could be done. He also promised a tax cut, like Obama promised to eliminate the so called Bush tax cuts. That’s also going to be a tough haul.
I don’t think President Trump is a fan of Westerns, movies, or culture in general, heavy or popular. If he were capable of learning at this advanced stage in life, he would have benefited from seeing the marvelous mini-series “Lonesome Dove,” or better yet, the Larry McMurtry masterpiece it was based on. Toward the end of the saga, an old Texas Ranger,Captain Woodrow Call, promises his dying friend Gus McCrae that he will bury him in a grove in Texas, and they are both in Montana. That’s a ridiculously long way to transport a corpse, but the Captain is a man of his word. Despite his advanced age, he buries Gus in the Texas grove, although the journey almost kills him.
Standing by the fresh grave of his friend, clad only in his longjohns (for he’s lost his clothes on his odyssey), Call says, as wipes a tear from his eye,
Well there ya are, Augustus. I guess this’ll teach me to be more careful about what I promise in the future.
At least he could be taught.