Donald Trump’s stump speeches are going through an edit–a thorough one. Earlier this week, he rephrased his plan to forcibly expel the immigrants he once referred to as rapists and drug dealers by saying, “we’ll work with them.”
It’s just a change in the words he’s using so people stop calling him a bigot, a Trump spokeswoman assures us. His positions are the same. Trump isn’t proposing some kind of immigration reform unless he actually calls it that, right?
“There’s not a different message,” the spokeswoman told CNN, eliciting a snicker from a fellow panelist. “He’s using different words to give that message.”
Trump’s advisors have their work cut out for them if they’re to reword all the bigoted, offensive things the Republican presidential nominee has said so far. We notice they haven’t gotten around to giving him new words to say regarding his pledge to build a border wall between the US and Mexico. Indeed, he mentioned the plan, using his usual terminology, during a town hall meeting with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that aired Wednesday.
So we thought we’d help his team out by making some suggestions on how the more mindful Trump might polish his language on that proposal, which has been a cornerstone of his platform.
The hordes at the gate
The rationale behind Trump’s wall is that criminals, terrorists and other undesirable people from all over the world are gushing through the US’s southern border, as represented in this campaign spot. (The footage was actually shot in Morocco, but his campaign took some creative license with the editing.)
But Trump has also said that there must be some good people among the riffraff. He circled back to that idea at the town hall with Hannity. Speaking hypothetically, he suggested that “an upstanding person, the family is great, everyone’s great,” deserves to stay in the US, even if he or she entered illegally.
If he’s going to be consistent, the new characterization should also apply to people who want to come in, we think. It’s wouldn’t be a stretch for Trump to say that he could “work with them” as well. They’re the same people, except some already made it in and others haven’t.
And making the rewording easier for his speech writers, Trump already mentioned that his wall will have “beautiful doors” for people to come in. It would only require minor tweaks to make those doors wider, or add more of them along the wall. That would keep him on message.
Then again, Trump’s new way of referring to his immigration policies have been likened to Jeb Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform plan. Maybe the GOP nominee could draw some inspiration from that to describe his wall proposal as well?
Bush, who dismissed Trump’s wall as impractical and expensive, instead recommended installing more US Customs and Border Protection bases along the border, using drones and other high-tech surveillance gear, and enlisting local authorities in border communities to help out. Trump could easily incorporate these measures into his own rhetoric. He would just skip over the details on length and height of the wall he’s already given, and focus instead on the 100% coverage he’s promised.
“It’s going to be the most powerful wall in the world, believe me. It’ll keep all the bad guys out,” he could say. “It’ll get done so quickly your head will spin.”
His handlers could point to that last sentence as something he’s already said, adeptly deflecting any accusations of flip-flopping.
No money talk
Everybody knows it’s crass to talk about money. So Trump can just stop saying he’s going to send the bill to construct the wall to Mexico. After all, omitting bits can’t really be construed as a change in position.
He doesn’t have to apologize to Mexicans for the wall’s offensive implications about them as a people and their country, either. The blanket non-apology he gave last week for causing personal pain with his comments should cover Mexicans, and citizens from all other countries he’s insulted. (What a brilliantly versatile piece of writing by his advisers that was, by the way, saying nothing and everything at the same time!)
When people bring up questions about the bill and who will pay it, he could change the subject to talk about the savings that his newly edited language on the wall will generate. It will be a lot cheaper to build some more CBP bases instead of a continuous barrier.
“I’m already proving my fiscal conservative credentials,” he might say. “I know how to handle money, I’m a businessman.”
But we’re not aiming for a complete lingo makeover. Trump is only changing the way he speaks, not how he thinks. So he should still be able to say things like “I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they’re going to call it the Trump wall,” as he did during an appearance in New Hampshire last year.
His spokeswoman would then surely say: “See, he’s still the same Mr. Trump.”