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This way madness lies

Dana Milbank on

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president's whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign -- protecting the immigrant "Dreamers" while also providing funding for his border security "wall" -- but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.

"This has turned into an s-show," said Graham, who co-wrote the bipartisan compromise Trump rejected, at the Nielsen hearing.

Nielsen surely would have preferred to be in the fjords of Norway, or just about anywhere, to where she was Tuesday: facing questions from both Durbin and Graham, whose integrity she had challenged with her dubious account.

"I hope you remember me," Durbin began acidly.

He asked how Trump had characterized African countries.

"In -- I don't -- I don't specifically remember a category -- categorization of countries in Africa," she said, explaining that "there were a lot of cross conversations."

Graham, who arrived two hours and 30 minutes into the hearing, told her that Durbin is "a decent, honest man" and that Trump was the real problem.

Graham said "something happened" to turn the president from "Tuesday Trump," when he promised an immigration bill filled with "love" (Nielsen didn't recall that word, either), to "Thursday Trump" with his "shithole" talk. "Tuesday we had a president that I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan," Graham said. "… I don't know where that guy went. I want him back."

For reasons unknown -- perhaps even to Trump -- the president blew up everything. And Nielsen appeared to realize her slavish defense of Trump was doing her no good. Finally, she announced that "I have nothing further to say on a meeting that happened over a week ago. I'd like to move forward and discuss ways in which we can protect our country."

 

But you don't just "move forward" after the president describes African countries as "shitholes" and proposes more white immigration. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., "seething with anger," pounced on Nielsen for her convenient memory loss under oath and her attempt to "dismiss" questions about the episode.

"It was Martin Luther King that said there's 'nothing in this world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,'" Booker said. "… We know what happens when people sit by and are bystanders and say nothing."

Do Nielsen, Cotton and Perdue see that? Or are they too far gone?

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

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