It’s a wonder the White House hasn’t yet installed a popcorn machine in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Between former press secretary Sean Spicer’s bumbling tenure and former communications director Anthony Scaramucci’s profanity-laden foolishness, the White House briefings became must-see TV.
But with Scaramucci’s firing last week, the position of communications director has been left unattended. Who will take up the leading role in Washington’s number one PR circus? It certainly won’t be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose steadfast commitment to staying on message no doubt has Trump bemoaning falling ratings already.
Enter Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy advisor, and the architect of his signature stance on immigration. The Jewish 31 year old from Santa Monica was thrust most recently into the national spotlight during a heated confrontation over what else but immigration. After Trump proposed measures that would cut legal immigration in half and tie it to English proficiency, Miller had some words with CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Acosta accused Miller and Trump of being un-American. “The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” Acosta said. “It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.”
Miller parried the accusation with a few facts. “Well, first of all, right now it’s a requirement that to be naturalized you have to speak English,” he told Acosta. “So the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of our immigration system would be actually very ahistorical.”
He then used a few statistics, a healthy dose of irony, and the Socratic method to poke a few more holes. “In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land? In the 1990s, when it was half-a-million a year, was it violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?” He demanded. “Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land. So you’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number? 900,000 violates it? 800,000 violates it?”
Acosta parried back that it was unfair to demand that people know English before coming to the U.S. “Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?” He asked.
But he only succeeded in setting Miller up again. “I have to honestly say I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English,” Miller said. “It’s actually — it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree,” he went on, his comments growing on the very same moral outrage Acosta had started with. “This an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.”
Miller’s performance was impressive. Putting aside his arguably xenophobic message and his flagrant disregard for cornerstones of American democracy, Miller’s knowledge of statistics and his command over the conversation made the CNN heavyweight look like a fool. Trump, for his part, was apparently thrilled with Miller’s performance, so much so that Miller is now under consideration to play the role of communications director, according to Axios.
Miller seems to have everything that Trump wants out of his spokespeople: unwavering loyalty, mastery over the arguments and, most importantly, brazen showmanship. He has all the irreverence of Scaramucci, none of the sniveling ineptitude of Spicer and is already a goal up on Trump’s arch-nemesis — CNN. He’s even conceived a new label to use as a weapon against mainstream media: Extreme media.
But that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Miller has fed off leftist ire since high school, making his first television appearance as an undergrad at Duke University after coming to the defense of Duke lacrosse players accused of rape in 2006.
He’s educated, well-argued and outstandingly familiar with partisan brawls for someone as young as he is. He’s a hardline nationalist that champions Trump as “the most gifted politician of our time.”
He also has the experience. As the communications director for then-senator Jeff Sessions, Miller quite literally wrote the book on how to defeat the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013. Since then, Miller has not only played a key role in developing Trump’s immigration bill but also penned a number of Trump’s speeches throughout the campaign, even coining the term “American carnage” in Trump’s inaugural speech.
With his fiery brand of inflammatory politics, coupled with his skill as a speechwriter and debater, Miller has already proven his ability to defend Trump’s policies (at least the one he’s had a hand in writing). At the same time, his disdain for the media and welcoming embrace of Trump’s divisive take on populism puts him in neat continuity with those who came before him, much to the detriment of the American people.
In keeping with the Trump’s commitment to push out inflammatory statements over intelligent ones, it would be hard to find a better press superstar than Miller, and if Americans thought the Mooch was bad, than they should purchase tickets for the Miller Show in advance.