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The Three Lame Stories the Press Writes About Every President



As if powered by a celestial mainspring, the press publishes the same three basic stories about every new presidential administration. Usually up first in their rotation is a breathless beat-sweetener about the incoming vice president. Thanks to his unusual closeness to the boss, chin-stroking reporters and commentators write, the new veep is the most powerful in history. Typically, this story contains more sugar than a big bowl of Lucky Charms: If you were to read a couple of them in one sitting you might well fall into diabetic shock. Mike Pence has already been appraised in such a manner—see CBS News , USA Today , USA Today again, CNN , and the Spectator . Hedging the veep assertion—which is not much different than asserting it—was the Washington Post . “Pence’s influence will hinge not so much on his background and relationships but his job performance,” wrote Joel Goldstein. No kidding!?

The second inevitable wave of stories claim that the administration is “rebooting.” If it’s true that administrations “hit the ground running,” then it follows that all stumble and fall on their fat asses. By cloaking an administration’s desperate do-overs as reboots, the press provides camouflage for incompetents in power. Right now, every soul in the Trump administration is hitting the virtual reset button in their heads in a desperate attempt to recover from the immigration order disaster and the Obamacare repeal crack-up. As if attempting to set some sort of journalistic record, a Washington Post headline had Donald Trump rebooting just three days after his inauguration. Elsewhere on the Trump rebooting front has been a reboot of the National Security Council and a reboot of the Spicer-Trump relationship . Calling for a reboot of the entire administration after just three weeks of Baby Donald’s presidency was Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald F. Seib.

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Monday’s Washington Post brings us, on Page One above the fold, the third classic of first-100 days reporting: A story about the coming “ reorganization “ of government—this time by Prince Jared, the president’s son-in-law. Young Jared, who owes his power to 1) the womb he emerged from and 2) the princess he married, is about to be charged with “sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises,” as the Post puts it. “Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.”

The reorganization story is such a journalistic staple that I’ve attacked it many times, most recently in January 2012 when President Barack Obama got around to fleshing out his 2011 pledge to streamline the federal bureaucracy. Like Trump, Obama’s reorg promised savings ($3 billion!), a reduced federal workforce (1,000 to 2,000 cut jobs!) and the merger of several trade and business agencies into the Department of Commerce. Presidents have been


At sanctuary cities gathering, policymakers vow to become Trump's 'worst nightmare'

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and dozens of legislators from around the country are dismissing the Trump administration's threat to cut millions of dollars in federal funding from sanctuary cities as an illegal maneuver to bully cities into enforcing immigration law, even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions aired that threat Monday from the White House.

“This is nothing new in terms of the threats that the federal administration has been making, but it really is sad that the security of our city, the security of our country, would be put at stake to just meet a campaign promise to a dwindling base,” Mark-Viverito told reporters gathered at Borough of Manhattan Community College for a conference on sanctuary city policy hosted by ThinkProgress.

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“It is illegal for the federal government to withdraw funds in a punitive fashion from cities that they say are refusing to comply with ill guided policies and laws that they are enacting,” she added.

At Monday’s policy gathering, city officials from around the country weighed their options over how to appropriately defy Trump’s immigration orders. Some of the lawmakers, including representatives from blue cities in red states, described fears of putting targets on their backs by not complying with federal law.

But Mark-Viverito insisted to reporters that leaders of sanctuary cities had a chance to show strength to Washington by coming together.

"Not only is there power in our numbers and in union in our cities, but as municipalities we have the power to secure a number of tools to expand the protection we offer to our immigrant communities, and that is why we are here today,” she said. “We are hoping that we are going to become this administration’s worst nightmare.”

But as the conference was underway, Sessions took to the podium in the White House briefing room to warn that the Department of Justice is ready to hold back nearly $4 billion in funds from going to any sanctuary municipality.

Sanctuary municipalities are cities that do not willfully cooperate with or help to enforce federal immigration laws. In New York City, for example, the New York Police Department for years has declined to use its resources in assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from enforcing immigration law, picking up undocumented people or holding them for ICE to arrest. The city Department of Correction only honors detainer requests for undocumented immigrants who have been charged with a violent crime or are considered a threat to national security.

Sessions on Monday urged cities to reconsider these types of policies, saying they have damaged national security and public safety.

“Unfortunately some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate the enforcement of immigration laws,” Session said. “Including refusing to detain non-felons on federal detainer requests.”

Sessions cited the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, a law passed in 1996, which includes a section providing that no state or local entity can in any way restrict its law enforcement officials from communicating

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