If you ask #NeverTrump conservatives, one thing that they'll tell you about the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination is that he's a b.s. artist and flip-flopper that can't be trusted to deliver on all his conservative promises.
As right-wing eminence Brent Bozell writes in a public letter posted at Breitbart.com (of all places), Trump has in recent memory favored single-payer health care, government funding for abortion, and not bombing every country on the planet. He's donated money to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, failed to pop a blood vessel over unisex bathrooms, and—worst of all—"endorsed 'touchback' amnesty" for filthy Mexicans.
You really gotta love conservatives bitching about Trump: They consistently claim that the guy who equated Mexican immigrants with rapists and drug dealers and murderers and said he would deport all of them is actually soft on immigration. Why? Because after he cleared them all out, he's said he would "let the good ones" back in.
Conservatives are right to say that Trump wasn't always so hostile to immigrants and writing in the Miami Herald, Reason's TV critic Glenn Garvin has identified a potential source for Trump's born-again nativism. In a new interview with Ann Coulter, the author of the anti-immigration tome Adios, America! recounts that Trump's campaign got in touch with her after a 2015 shit-storm interview she had with Jorge Ramos of Fusion. From Garvin's account:
Before June 2015, Trump's musings about immigration were rare and contradictory: He sneered about the "self-deportation" plan that Mitt Romney proposed during his 2012 presidential campaign, but also sent out a few tweets in 2013 criticizing a Senate bill that would have offered clemency to illegal immigrants. In early 2015, as Trump began hinting he might run for president, his main issue was foreign trade, not immigration.
Coulter tells Garvin that after her interview with Ramos—and even before her nativist screed was available—the Trump folks got in touch with her and asked for a galley copy, which she happily supplied.
"I was on my way back to the airport to fly to New York City when I got an email from Trump's office requesting that a copy of the book be overnighted to him," recalls Coulter. Two weeks later, Trump delivered his famous — or infamous — speech about Mexico dumping "criminals, drug dealers, rapists, et ceterera" into the United States and was on his way to knocking 14 of the other 16 Republican candidates out of the race.
"He's the only person I ever needed to read it," says Coulter happily. "Now my work is done." (Though she graciously gives the Mexican-born Ramos some probably unwanted credit: "Yay, Jorge! He can stay.")
Garvin notes that the Trump campaign says it's grateful for her support but won't actually say whether her book is the blueprint for his eliminationist rhetoric regarding forcibly deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and up to 4 million children (many of whom are U.S. citizens). Or rather, what conservatives say is nothing but "a poorly disguised amnesty" program.
Read full Garvin interview with Coulter here.
And click below to watch Garvin interview an Ann Coulter action figure, which is pretty damn funny.
Programming note: As it happens, I'm scheduled to appear with Coulter and "Savage Love" advice columnist Dan Savage on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on May 8. More on that here. The last time I was on Real Time was back in 2012, and I mixed it up with Rachel Maddow and Mark Ruffalo. Watch here.
As it happens, also back in 2012, I debated Coulter under the auspices of Denver's great Independent Institute. The topic was whether libertarians and conservatives could (or should) get along. Check it out here (scroll down to middle of text, after the transcript of Matt Welch's tussle with Jonah Goldberg in a different forum).