The national media is in an uproar over the president's alleged comments about why we are promoting immigration from "s***hole countries" while shutting the door for so many immigrants from more advanced nations.
According to the media, there are two issues here. One is the president's language, which they consider inappropriate. And second is the whole issue of who should get favored immigration advantages.
Ahem, let me offer a little perspective.
Having interviewed six presidents and hosted them in my home and traveled with them on Air Force One, and on commercial aircraft, and in private jets and car caravans and Winnebago's, I can assure you that they all use that word. Including Ronald Reagan, who was otherwise a perfect gentleman.
As far as inappropriate moments in the White House are concerned, this moment by Donald Trump does not even rank.
John F. Kennedy, you will remember, asked his young staffer, Mimi Alford, to give his buddy, Dave Powers a blow job, in his presence. This, in the White House swimming pool. There is Bill Clinton and his dalliances with Lewinsky. Both stories are documented in my book "Game of Thorns."
Five recent presidents used the N-word. Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, FDR, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. In fact, we could say six, because Barack Obama used the word publicly as well. By the way, five of those six presidents are liberal Democrats.
Historian Robert Dallek tells the story of LBJ, who advanced landmark Civil Rights legislation. According to Dallek, the president, once told a young attorney, "son, when I appoint a n***** to the court, I want everybody to know he's a n*****."
Nixon had a staffer make a list of Jews who worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Crude, racist, and inappropriate words and actions are nothing new. They are regrettable and wrong but the White House will survive.
The second issue is the point that it is prejudicial of President Trump to tilt immigration toward more advanced nations.
In fact, Trump was decrying a policy that favors persons from poor countries and gives them an edge.
When I worked in the White House many Democratic leaders were trying to stop Soviet Jews from immigrating to the USA. And later Russian Pentecostals. The later were risking death by execution but that didn't seem to matter.
In the decade before, many Democratic politicians tried to block the Vietnamese who were trying to escape the communist takeover. Democrats feared that these new immigrants would vote Republican when they got here. Joe Biden was among those calling to stop the influx. They even blocked the immigration of orphans, fathered by American soldiers.
In contrast with our own inflated self-image, America has a long and controversial record on immigration. FDR interned Japanese Americans during World War II. He blocked ships of Jewish refugees from landing at ports in New York City and Miami. They were fleeing Nazi Germany but FDR feared that the refugees had been seeded with Gestapo agents trying to get into the United States. Incredibly, FDR was proven correct, although most historians still regret this decision.
At the very birth of America, John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that required an immigrant to live up to 14 years in America before becoming a citizen. It gave power to a president to detain and deport any immigrant arriving from a so-called "hostile" nation.
The problem now, which no one wants to talk about, is that Democrats will not allow Asians or Whites into the United States because they will tend to vote Republican. And Republicans are tired of giving preference to African and Latin Americans because they will tend to vote Democratic.
This may not be the humanitarian issue that some maintain. Rather, this may simply be a partisan power struggle. So what's new?
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. He is the author of "Game of Thorns: Inside the Clinton-Trump Campaign of 2016." Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
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