Stephen Miller is a think­ing per­son’s Don­ald Trump

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By Ed Rogers

At Wed­nes­day’s White House press brief­ing on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sup­port for the Re­form­ing Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion for Strong Em­ploy­ment Act (RAISE Act), what unfolded was a demon­stra­tion of the me­dia’s bias and lack of knowl­edge about pol­icy. Ob­vi­ously, much of the lib­eral me­dia is against any lim­its on any type of im­mi­gra­tion, le­gal or oth­er­wise, so the hos­til­ity was al­ready in the room be­fore Stephen Miller, se­nior pol­icy ad­viser to the pres­i­dent, even started. Their frus­tra­tion was pal­pa­ble. But it was no match for Miller, the GOP’S new hero.

CNN’S Jim Acosta tried to cre­ate a melo­dra­matic moment, lec­tur­ing about the mean­ing of im­mi­gra­tion, the Statue of Lib­erty and its his­tory. Per­haps Acosta is too cer­tain of his own wis­dom, or he is used to talk­ing to peo­ple who don’t know their facts, but Miller put him in his place.

Think of Miller as a think­ing per­son’s Don­ald Trump. He is ar­ro­gant, con­de­scend­ing and full of him­self, but he knows what he is talk­ing about and he is proud of it.

Too of­ten, many in the me­dia don’t want to talk about pol­icy or even have an hon­est back-and­forth di­a­logue about is­sues. The me­dia is more in­ter­ested in cov­er­ing process sto­ries and day-today fights in­side the White House. The Trump White House has done a ter­ri­ble job of de­priv­ing the me­dia of these sto­ries, but it is no se­cret that the press would rather talk about who is up, who is down, who is in, who is out, etc. So, when some­one such as Miller shows up and takes on all com­ers about a se­ri­ous pol­icy mat­ter, most of the me­dia aren’t pre­pared. They just aren’t used to some­one with Miller’s pierc­ing at­ti­tude and com­mand of the facts.

Maybe Miller’s per­for­mance Wed­nes­day is a good les­son for the White House. If they want news cov­er­age about pol­icy, the White House should sup­ply more ar­tic­u­late pol­icy ex­perts — not just po­lit­i­cal gen­er­al­ists who are un­able to move past the usual plat­i­tudes.

By the way, in talk­ing with folks around the coun­try, I’ve learned just how few peo­ple un­der­stand how many le­gal im­mi­grants are al­lowed into the United States ev­ery year. No one knew for sure, but their guesses ranged from 200,000 to 10 mil­lion. For what­ever it is worth, the ac­tual num­ber of im­mi­grants granted per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus in the United States each year is about 1 mil­lion – slightly more than the pop­u­la­tion of San Fran­cisco.

Sup­ported by Trump and in­tro­duced by Sens. Tom Cot­ton, Rark., and David Per­due, R-GA., the RAISE Act would lower the num­ber of green cards is­sued to im­mi­grants to around 500,000 within 10 years. Even then, it would be like adding a city big­ger than Colorado Springs ev­ery year.

As the pres­i­dent said in Fe­bru­ary, “The cur­rent, out­dated sys­tem de­presses wages for our poor­est work­ers and puts great pres­sure on our tax­pay­ers.” The RAISE Act would adopt a mer­it­based sys­tem that will not only ben­e­fit Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, but also help more im­mi­grant fam­i­lies en­ter the mid­dle class. Miller did a good job of mak­ing that clear yes­ter­day.

The outcry over Miller’s pre­sen­ta­tion has al­ready be­gun, with main­stream me­dia out­lets such as Vox (“Stephen Miller couldn’t de­fend a new im­mi­gra­tion bill without de­mean­ing the press”), CBS News (“Trump aide dis­misses Statue of Lib­erty ‘hud­dled masses’ poem”), and Politico (“White House aide blasts CNN re­porter for ‘cos­mopoli­tan bias’ “) ac­cus­ing the White House of dis­miss­ing a le­git­i­mate press in­quiry and re­sort­ing to in­sults. That’s right, the press says Miller was “de­mean­ing,” he “dis­missed” the Statue of Lib­erty and that he “blasted” a re­porter. But the award for the most lu­di­crous and down­right com­i­cal cov­er­age of Wed­nes­day’s press brief­ing goes to the lib­eral group Think Progress, which pub­lished a story, “Stephen Miller at­tacks Statue of Lib­erty poem, echo­ing pop­u­lar white na­tion­al­ist talk­ing point.”

Miller clearly hit a nerve. Many in the me­dia can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They de­spise Trump, and they don’t like Miller. But I get the sense that Miller is not in­tim­i­dated and he en­joys the fray. Maybe the brief­ing room will be see­ing more of Stephen Miller.

Jim Wat­son, Afp/getty Im­ages

Stephen Miller, a se­nior ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, takes ques­tions from re­porters at the White House on Wed­nes­day.

Ed Rogers is a con­trib­u­tor to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Post­par­ti­san blog and a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant.

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