Posted by Curt on 3 February, 2017 at 1:30 pm. 1 comment.


Michael Barone:

Donald Trump’s second week as president has been full of surprises and Sturm und Drang.

His Friday afternoon executive order barring for 90 days immigration from seven countries designated by the Obama administration as “countries of concern” was obviously ill-vetted and prompted nationwide and international protests. His Tuesday night nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court triggered well-rehearsed protests but also some unexpected support.

Both of Trump’s actions were in line with his campaign promises and were executed without the leaks so common in Washington. Both elicited outraged reaction, including some transparently spurious arguments. But Trump seems likely to come out the winner, politically and on substance.

The immigration order was widely and inaccurately labeled a “Muslim ban” — a policy Trump advocated on the campaign trail but abandoned many months before he was elected.

Many protesters argued that any limit based on nationality or religion is “un-American.” But American law has long used religion as a factor in deciding which immigrants to accept — for example, giving preference to those persecuted for their religion. And asserting that discriminating by nationality is verboten is only a short step from the proposition that everyone in the world has a right to move to the United States.

That open-borders position is simply wrong as a matter of constitutional and international law. And it’s politically untenable.

Initial polling shows a plurality favoring the order — a better score than Trump’s popular vote percentage. Poll results may vary considerably depending on question wording, and opinion may change based on events.

But it’s clear the rage expressed by Trump’s critics is not indicative of wider public opinion, just as the giant turnout for the women’s marches Jan. 21 wasn’t typical of the nation. Analyst Nate Silver estimates that 80 percent of the turnout came in states carried by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Democrats’ “fight in the streets” (Senator Tim Kaine’s phrase) is playing to the base, not the wider public.

There’s no polling yet on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, but even liberal elites are impressed. Neal Katyal, who once served as acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, warmly endorsed the nominee in a piece for the New York Times, mentioning his “sense of fairness and decency” and his “temperament that suits the nation’s highest court” and expressing confidence that he “would help to restore confidence in the rule of law.”

Democratic senators are still smarting over Republicans’ refusal last year to even consider Obama’s highly qualified nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. But they overstate their case. The majority of senators clearly indicated their constitutionally authorized refusal to consent to his nomination, and no justice has been nominated and confirmed in a presidential election year since 1940.

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