Donald J. Trump’s presidency is truly frightening in so many ways. As I have written here before, he is totally unfit to be president and has chosen equally unfit cabinet members to run governmental departments, many of whom actually oppose the mission of their specific agency. The recent revelations of the Mueller Report, although not focusing specifically on governance, have reinforced the notion that this presidency is a disaster for the country from which we will be a long time recovering. And if this president does not deserve impeachment, then which ever will?
But one of the most fearful aspects of this grotesque presidency is the presence in the White House of senior presidential advisor Stephen Miller. Mr. Miller, although never vetted or approved by the Senate, has emerged over the first couple of years of this presidency as one of the most powerful individuals in Washington. He clearly has Trump’s trust and his ear and can easily be imagined leaning over his shoulder constantly offering advice on not only immigration but our foreign policy positions on Israel, North Korea, and Iran and a host of other issues. And much like Rasputin’s evil influence in the twilight years of the the Romanovs in pre-revolutionary Russia, he exerts a nefarious influence on our White House court and its orange faced monarch.
I really think that Miller performs a required White House function as the “Trump whisperer”, à la the “The Horse Whisperer”, working persistently and diligently at calming and focusing the President and planting perverse ideas in his head. And we know how empty that head really is – of history, of geography, of culture, of the arts. With him throughout the 2016 campaign and now at his elbow, side and back so constantly as a senior advisor, Stephen Miller has become also Trump’s Svengali, exerting with his considerable intelligence and omnipresence a powerful and nefarious influence on his boss. In the words of Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent – “He is one of the leading figures pushing the Trump administration toward increasing venality, corruption and lawlessness.”
Where exactly did this guy come from? Blazing a controversial trail of contrary, belligerent and passionate conservatism with a heavy dose of xenophobia and white nationalism throughout his high school and college careers, Miller entered the political field not through running for office but by forging a career as a doggedly conservative staff member of quite similar politicians. After graduation he worked as press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, then for Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, both rabidly conservative and reactionary Tea Party Republicans, the former tinged as well with her well-known nuttiness, demonstrated in such statements as the “Founding Fathers stopping slavery” and “the first shot heard at Lexington and Concord, New Hampshire”.
Prior to joining the Trump campaign in January of 2016, Miller had served several years working for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, later appointed as Trump’s first Attorney General.With Sessions, he rose to the position of communications director, playing a key role in defeating the immigration bill proposed by the “Gang of Eight”, incidentally the best immigration bill ever put forward by our Congress – a series of compromises which would have solved most of the problems relating to immigration and prevented it from becoming such a controversial issue today. Most surprising is to discover another not so well known success of Miller – taking a hiatus from the Sessions office to run the campaign of ultra-conservative Dave Brat, then a political nonentity, who roundly whipped Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014, one of the most surprising election results of that year. Interesting how easily one can relate Stephen Miller’s political internships with politicians like these with his connection to the many outrages of the Trump administration.
So it’s not surprising that Stephen Miller was able to ride this string of successes straight to the Trump campaign where he wrote speeches for Trump, often served as the “warm up act” for his rancorous rallies and played a key role in Trump’s unlikely but ultimately successful campaign for president. Miller composed the speech Trump gave to the Republican Convention that year. He also helped write Donald’s controversial inaugural address in which the astute observer can easily recognize some trademark Stephen Miller sentiments and phrases, like “American first”, “protect our borders from the ravages of other countries” and “unite the civilized world against Radical Islamic Terrorism”.
Early in his White House career Miller appeared on several of the Sunday morning political shows which exposed his acerbic, arrogant and petulant manner. For example, on an early appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, Miller’s controversial statement – “Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned” – provoked a great deal of consternation. And on Jake Tapper’s CNN show, State of the Union, Miller went on to state, “The president is a political genius… who took down the Bush dynasty, who took down the Clinton dynasty, who took down the entire media complex”, eventually arguing vehemently with Tapper, then refusing to leave the CNN studios and having to be escorted out by security. These appearances were so offensive and counterproductive that the Trump administration apparently decided that they did more harm than good. So his public appearances on these kinds of venues have diminished considerably in recent months. Actually the coup de grâce for his string of appearances may have resulted from his appearance on Face the Nation with his almost totally receded hairline adorned by a treatment of what appeared to be some kind of spray-on hair, which became the butt of a string of jokes and ridicule from a bevy of late night comedians.
From the beginning of the Trump presidency, Miller’s fingerprints are all over its cruel and immoral immigration policies, from the early travel ban on Muslim immigrants, to the sharp reductions in the number of refugees accepted by the United States, to the policy of separating migrant children from their parents, to the threat of transporting hordes of immigrants to sanctuary cities. Miller has also played a key role in the prevention of the publication of internal administration studies proving that refugees had a positive effect on government revenues. HIs Uncle, David Glosser, noted in an op-ed that he wrote for Politico: “I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.”
More recently, Miller has been responsible for the housecleaning at Homeland Security which resulted not only in the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the rejection of Ronald Vitiello as new ICE director, both individuals deemed “not tough enough” on immigration, but also the purge of Secret Service Director Randolph Alles. And it’s not hard to imagine that this “senior advisor” has exerted his nefarious influence on other issues too, such as moving the Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem and one of Trump’s latest perverse idea – pardoning members of the military that have been accused or convicted of war crimes. Also, it’s clear that Trump’s latest hare-brained scheme of the threat of tariffs on Mexican goods resulting in a great “deal” was hatched by Svengali Miller. And I would not doubt for a second that Miller had a great deal to do with the controversial citizenship question proposed by Republicans for inclusion in the 2020 census.
So what do we do, what can we do about Stephen Miller. That he enjoys Trump’s confidence and has made himself virtually indispensable to him is indisputable. What’s also clear is that to have a senior advisor whose positions on key issues are narrow, reactionary, immoral and dangerous guiding this president is a serious threat to the country. The House of Representatives needs to exercise its oversight responsibility and call him to testify and discuss his role in major presidential decisions and rulings. He needs to be brought out from the protective veil of the Oval Office and exposed for the danger and threat that he is. Whether the House does this or not remains to be seen. Certainly there are other investigative concerns the are demanding its attention right now. But Stephen Miller must be investigated, exposed and removed before more harm is done.
And a short addendum – can you imagine how horrified I was to catch a glimpse of Trump administration grifters, liars and crooks – Ivanka and Jared, Steven Mnuchin and yes, I can’t believe, none other than Trump’s whisperer, Svengali and Rasputin – Stephen Miller, all framed by one of the grand porticoes of Buckingham Palace. What a disgrace and insult to the dignity of the British royal family. Who decided to bring these detestable individuals along on this state visit, and why? Anybody know?