Governor Baker has a habit of trying to skip questions he finds inconvenient, usually by declaring them outside his purview as governor. Even as a candidate in 2010, he infamously declared himself “absolutely not smart enough” to know if climate change was caused by humans. (And no, I will never let him hear the end of it.)
Here he is pretending not to know if Trump should have a Nobel Peace Prize. (This is not a difficult question.)
D: Consider this: There are seven Republican governors saying President Trump should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. What do you think about that?
BAKER: To tell you the truth, I have not thought about that for five minutes [etc etc]
Now … does this matter? Who cares what Baker thinks about North Korea?
This was a softball question, and like so many, it actually reveals more than one might wish. Those seven Republican governors are playing to a base: They’ve made their bed with Trumpism, and now they’re going to lie in it. Massachusetts Republicans are deciding now between following Trump down an abyss of corruption, bribery, and downright literal disloyalty to country; or keeping their distance. This is an awkward time for some of them, and they’d all prefer to think of something else.
What would it mean if Baker, along with Maryland’s Larry Hogan, and Ohio’s John Kasich, were to actually confront Trump, on anything, rather than avoiding the subject? These are among the most popular governors in the country. It would give breathing room for a genuine Republican opposition to Trump — which would substantially help in, say, preserving the rule of law and the Republic. Baker does indeed have a national role to play; but since he feels the need to keep his own Trumpist MA Republicans in the fold, he’s just choosing not to fulfill it.
Or what if he’s perfectly happy with Trump?
Let’s not forget Baker’s enthusiasm for police cooperation with ICE. He loves to tout his opposition to Massachusetts becoming a “sanctuary state”: It was one of his big applause lines at the MassGOP convention. He introduced legislation to allow local police to cooperate with ICE — but only for the really bad guys, you see.
Over the past year, federal judges in the Boston courthouse have been unusually outspoken in criticizing immigration cases, as the Trump administration steps up apprehensions and detentions. The critical judges include two Obama nominees, a Clinton nominee, and Wolf, a Reagan nominee.
In December, Judge Leo T. Sorokin ordered the release of a Yale University-educated Kenyan national who had been detained for nearly a year.
In a biting memorandum, Sorokin blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s “repeated errors,” which he said suggested “negligence, incompetence, or bad faith on the part of the agency.”
The negligence and incompetence are not accidents. They serve the purpose of terrorizing immigrants — documented and undocumented alike; DREAMers, refugees, and sometimes even American citizens. The chaos and unpredictability is policy.
We know that Trump is a raw-racist, who refers to immigrants and refugees as “animals”. His Chief of Staff (Boston, come get your boy) subscribes to shockingly racist, perverted (and self-indicting) views of immigration. Trump’s Massachusetts chairman Geoff Diehl runs on an anti-immigration platform. The MassGOP rails against sanctuary state legislation. (Congratulations to Sen. Jamie Eldridge on his choice of enemies. Well done and keep it up.)
There’s a context to all this. So when Baker pretends not to have an opinion about Trump, remember that in substance, he’s absolutely on board with the shockingly racist, cruel and abusive immigration policy. He’s using this issue — at the cost of all the human pain that goes with it — to keep himself in good standing with some of the ugliest elements in his own party.