Tucker Carlson (Getty/Roy Rochlin)

Tucker Carlson attacks Trump over DACA, revealing a single-issue agenda

The host, normally a Trumpster, shows that he cares about only one thing: Keeping immigrants out of America


Gabriel Bell
January 10, 2018 5:45PM (UTC)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson launched an uncharacteristic fusillade against President Donald Trump following the commander-in-chief's odd, disorganized televised confab with congressional Democrats over immigration issues. In the Tuesday meeting, Trump appeared ever-so-briefly, ever-so-slightly amenable to revising and improving The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act such that its beneficiaries, the so-called "DREAMer" undocumented immigrants who grew up in America, might be able to remain in the country — this despite the president's previous hard-line positions on their deportation.

Carlson, who has repositioned himself as a strong opponent of immigration in recent years with nods to white nationalism, was somewhere near livid. "Congress is full of people from both parties who believe that the point of our immigration policy is to provide cheap labor to their donors and to atone for America’s imaginary sins against the world," Carlson said. "They couldn’t care less about immigration’s effect on you or your family. Yet these are the same people the president now says he trusts to write the immigration bill, the one he will sign no matter what it says." Again, as he has before, Carlson spoke only to the non-immigrant, presumably white members of his audience.

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Carlson asked Trump rhetorically, "So what was the point of running for president?"

Carlson continued, saying that the president "clearly has skills as a negotiator," but adding: "Where were they today? The president signaled he'd be happy to legalize hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants now, and then at some point in the future, tackle all that other stuff, like making sure they can't bring millions of their relatives from the third world along with them."

After explaining the purely political stakes of the president's openness to negotiation on DACA, and the loss of "leverage" that might entail, Carlson added, "The Democrats' goal is to import more Democratic voters and by any means necessary. Once they retake the Congress and the presidency, and if Trump betrays his base on immigration, that will definitely happen."

"It is over," he said. "Say goodbye to borders, they are done. Keep in mind that the top Democrat in the House recently thanked illegal aliens for sneaking into this country. That's how Democrats feel, and they are not pretending anymore."

Comparing being a Trump voter to the difficulty of rooting for an underperforming sports team, specifically the "old Chicago Cubs," Carlson said that there is, on the one hand, "pride that comes from doing something that fashionable people consider insane." Then again, he noted, there is "disappointment" and "embarrassment." That, however, would ultimately be worth it "when they finally win the World Series."

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"In the Trump presidency," Carlson continued, "the World Series is this immigration bill. It's the big payoff, it's the whole point of the exercise, and they're not allowed to blow it."

Yes, it is remarkable that Carlson, usually a tireless defender of the Trump, has admitted that supporting him can sometimes be a source of "embarrassment," that, by extension, elements of his presidency have been disappointing.

What's more clear, however, is just how much of a one-issue voter Carlson seems to be. The whole point of the Trump campaign, of the Trump win, of the Trump presidency, he argues, was hard-line immigration reform. All that matters, he says, is blocking amnesty for the scores of undocumented residents who have grown up as Americans and the "millions of their relatives from the third world along with them."

To be fair, Carlson is far from alone here. Trump set the tone of his candidacy and the blueprint for his victory the day he announced his bid for office with a harsh, arguably racist attack on immigrants both documented and otherwise. For millions, Trump — unsteady, unqualified, unpresidential — has always been a one-issue politician, their outsized faith in and fervor for him being only an extension of their focus on that singular issue.

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What's interesting is how nakedly Carlson is admitting that here. Yes, Trump is an embarrassment, Carlson says, but so long as Trump prevents the browning of America, he's a winner. If he cannot, he is of no use to his single-issue base.

Of course, Carlson should not lose faith in Trump so quickly. Only hours after that meeting, the president rage-tweeted after a 9th Circuit Court judge issued a temporary order preventing DACA recipients from being deported.

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As it seems, Carlson still has his one-issue president.

See the whole segment below.


Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

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