Fools, knaves, and Knavs

After the 2016 election, the left and some Never Trumpers warned of dire consequences. Civil liberties would be curtailed. Court orders would be disobeyed. Russia would dictate our foreign policy. Trump would lead us into war. And that was just for starters.

Nothing of the sort has occurred. Nothing close.

This creates a problem for the left, its media allies, and some Never Trumpers. What happens when non-partisans realize that there are no catastrophic, or even particularly dark consequences from this presidency, just conservative policies and a bunch of unfortunate tweets? The answer is a dreaded one: Trump becomes “normalized.”

This dread explains, I think, why lefty outlets like the Washington Post must feed readers a daily dose of anti-Trump material. On an ordinary day, the Post’s readers can expect a minimum of two front page stories a day of some alleged Trump outrage, plus more on the inside pages.

Since a president, no matter how bad, cannot commit that many outrages per day, the Post’s stories are frequently ridiculous. The one I discussed yesterday by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker is an example.

Here’s another. Yesterday, the Post ran a front page story about how Melania Trump and her parents “very likely” are taking advantage of chain migration, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s attempt to change the law so as to limit such migration.

Melania’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, hail from Slovenia. They are here on green cards and seek to become citizens. Immigration experts say they very likely are relying on the fact that they are the parents of an American citizen, and thus are taking advantage of chain migration.

President Trump favors limiting chain migration. He would make it unavailable to parents of citizens.

Okay, but what’s the point? Why is this story front page news?

The Knavs are doing nothing illegal. Nor is there anything wrong with, or hypocritical about, the Trump family benefiting from a program that Donald Trump thinks is bad policy.

When the government provides a benefit — e.g., a payment or subsidy — there is nothing problematic about accepting it, even if one believes it would be better policy not to provide it. For example, I claim tax deductions I think should be eliminated. I’d be a fool not to.

Matters would be more complicated if Trump opposed the current chain migration regime for moral reasons, but he doesn’t. His objection is policy based.

Trump believes, as I do, that on balance it better serves American interests to award citizenship based on what immigrants can contribute to the country, rather than on certain family relationships they have to American citizens. (Some critics claim that Trump’s real goal is keeping the country white. I see no evidence that this is his motive, but it too would be a policy objection to chain migration, not a moral one).

So, again, why is the Knavs’ immigration story front page news? It is front page news because the mainstream media needs to keep up its anti-Trump drumbeat to counteract the growing public sense that this presidency doesn’t resemble the one the left warned us about.

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