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Opinion Stephen Miller: A thinking person’s Donald Trump

Stephen Miller, President Trump’s senior policy adviser, got into a tense exchange on Aug. 2 with CNN reporter Jim Acosta about immigration. (Video: Reuters)
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At yesterday’s White House press briefing on President Trump’s support for the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act), what unfolded was a demonstration of the media’s bias and lack of knowledge about policy. Obviously, much of the liberal media is against any limits on any type of immigration, legal or otherwise, so the hostility was already in the room before Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to the president, even started. Their frustration was palpable. But it was no match for Miller, the GOP’s new hero.

CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to create a melodramatic moment, lecturing about the meaning of immigration, the Statue of Liberty and its history. Perhaps Acosta is too certain of his own wisdom, or he is used to talking to people who don’t know their facts, but Miller put him in his place. See the whole exchange here.

Think of Miller as a thinking person’s Donald Trump. He is arrogant, condescending and full of himself, but he knows what he is talking about and he is proud of it. Good for Miller.

Too often, many in the media don’t want to talk about policy or even have an honest back-and-forth dialogue about issues. The media is more interested in covering process stories and day-to-day fights inside the White House. The Trump White House has done a terrible job of depriving the media of these stories, but it is no secret that the press would rather talk about who is up, who is down, who is in, who is out, etc. So, when someone such as Miller shows up and takes on all comers about a serious policy matter, most of the media isn’t prepared. They just aren’t used to someone with Miller’s piercing attitude and command of the facts.

Maybe Miller’s performance yesterday is a good lesson for the White House. If they want news coverage about policy, the White House should supply more articulate policy experts — not just political generalists who are unable to move past the usual platitudes.

By the way, in talking with folks around the country, I’ve learned just how few people understand how many legal immigrants are allowed into the United States every year. No one knew for sure, but their guesses ranged from 200,000 to 10 million. For whatever it is worth, the actual number of immigrants granted permanent legal status in the United States each year is about 1 million – slightly more than the population of San Francisco.

Supported by Trump and introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), the RAISE Act would lower the number of green cards issued to immigrants to around 500,000 within 10 years. Even then, it would be like adding a city bigger than Colorado Springs, Colo., every year.

As the president said in February, “The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers and puts great pressure on our taxpayers.” The RAISE Act would adopt a merit-based system that will not only benefit American companies, but also help more immigrant families enter the middle class. Miller did a good job of making that clear yesterday.

The outcry over Miller’s presentation has already begun, with mainstream media outlets such as Vox (“Stephen Miller couldn’t defend a new immigration bill without demeaning the press”), CBS News (“Trump aide dismisses Statue of Liberty ‘huddled masses’ poem”), and Politico (“White House aide blasts CNN reporter for ‘cosmopolitan bias’”) accusing the White House of dismissing a legitimate press inquiry and resorting to insults. That’s right, the press says Miller was “demeaning,” he “dismissed” the Statue of Liberty and that he “blasted” a reporter. But the award for the most ludicrous and downright comical coverage of yesterday’s press briefing goes to the liberal group, Think Progress, which published a story, “Stephen Miller attacks Statue of Liberty poem, echoing popular white nationalist talking point.”

Miller clearly hit a nerve.

Many in the media can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They despise Trump, and they don’t like Miller. But I get the sense that Miller is not intimidated and he enjoys the fray. Maybe the briefing room will be seeing more of Stephen Miller.