Donald Trump now looks the weakest US president of recent times. His approval rating is historically low for a new Commander-in-Chief. And the 9th District Court of Appeals has now refused to reinstate his executive order on immigration — an order which, if you stop breathing in all the media hot air surrounding it, isn’t all that dramatic a presidential move.
The immigration order now seems likely to go up to the Supreme Court — Trump, typically, tweeted ‘see you in court’ after learning of the decision. He could win there, especially if his administration can get their Supreme Court nominee Judge Gorsuch in place quickly. But the delay will make a mockery of the order, a 90-day freeze, because almost 90 days will pass before the Supreme Court can rule on the decision.
Before Trump’s opponents feel too triumphant, however, they should consider how their actions might help Trump in the long run. He and his press officer Kellyanne Conway can now insist that they are defending the country from terror while a malicious East-coast court is intent on blocking them. No prizes for guessing what the majority of American people would think about that.
And imagine if an Islamist terrorist attack did soon happen — the threat level has increased dramatically in the last three years — on US soil. Even if the perpetrator was somebody who would have been in America in spite of the visa ban, it would be very easy for Team Trump to say ‘this is why we need to protect our nation against these threats’ and win over masses of support.
Trump is not wrong in calling the court decision political. Note the pompous celebratory tweet from the Washington Attorney General’s Office: ‘Denied. Unanimous. Per curium’. Such a defiant attitude doesn’t exactly sound like balanced justice. Trump may seem a feeble president this week. But we are still in the very early days of what is sure to be a dramatic and endlessly surprising presidency.