(CNN)President Donald Trump has hit on a new exit strategy as he struggles to mitigate the most disorientating political crisis of his presidency: the splitting up of undocumented migrant families.
His obvious conclusion is that even though his hardline populism got him into the mess, only a more unfiltered dose of Trumpism will finally sweep it away.
Trump fired off some of his most raw and authoritarian tweets about immigration yet Sunday and is also cranking up his trade war rhetoric to solidify the safe space where he always returns when he’s in trouble: the embrace of his political base.
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote in a tweet that hammered undocumented migrants on Sunday.
“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order,” he wrote.
The President also intensified his assault on trade — like immigration, a pillar of his 2016 election campaign — a few weeks ahead of a trip to Europe looming as yet another clash with America’s closest allies.
“The United States is insisting that all countries that have placed artificial Trade Barriers and Tariffs on goods going into their country, remove those Barriers & Tariffs or be met with more than Reciprocity by the U.S.A.,” he wrote. “Trade must be fair and no longer a one way street!”
On Monday morning, Trump created new areas of distraction, complaining on Twitter about the special counsel’s investigation, which he branded a “now totally discredited and very expensive Witch Hunt,” and the fact that a Virginia restaurant asked his press secretary Sarah Sanders to leave in the latest instance of an administration official feeling a public backlash over the family separations episode.
Trump’s trust in these key themes is significant because it shows his reliance on a method that has been wildly successful, but which failed him last week.
Usually when he gets in trouble, Trump is been able to whip up another outrage or drama to keep up the breakneck speed of a careening political career that needs incessant controversy and anger to ensure that no single drama lingers for sufficient time to derail it.
But despite the President’s efforts, the Trump train has been stalled on the tracks for days.
Images of scared children and depictions of shattered families that tested the nation’s self-image as a beacon of compassion thwarted the President’s efforts to return to full steam ahead.
There was unusual dissent from loyalists in a Republican Party that Trump has thoroughly changed and monopolized. His declaration that he did not cause the problem and that it was the fault of Democrats failed to bite. His own bid to bail himself out with an executive order ending separations…