Donald Trump's so-called major policy speech on immigration was a deceptive trick.
To fool your dog into eating a yucky pill, you wrap it in yummy lunchmeat. The technique is highly deceptive. But it works. The dog is so taken with the outer lunchmeat that it unwittingly swallows the hidden pill.
Trump's newly minted campaign managers faced a similar problem. Trump needed to "soften" his position on immigration in order to attract new voters, but how could Trump get his hardline base of supporters to swallow this "softening" pill?
Trump's need to "soften" presented a critical problem for the campaign. Trump's poll numbers were in a nose-dive, and if he didn't do something fast his candidacy was facing its bitter end. His managers seemed to reach the conclusion that others have held for a long time that Trump's extreme anti-immigration positions alienate voters and Trump could not possibly win the election with only his core base of rabid supporters.
So they decided to float a trial balloon. Trump appeared in a town hall on the Fox News program "Hannity" and suggested that he was open to "softening" his immigration position by perhaps offering a path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already living in the United States.
Boy, oh, boy was that a big mistake! Trump's "softening" immediately set off a firestorm of criticism from his hardline supporters on the right, including blistering attacks by the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
So the Trump camp realized that they could not soften to the extent of offering a path to legal status. But they still needed to soften somehow in order to appeal to the new voters that they so desperately need.
They decided to adopt the new position of simply punting on the entire issue of what to do with the 11 million people. This position is indeed a "softening" because Trump would no longer stick to his prior extreme position that all 11 million people must be deported immediately.
"Importantly," declared Trump in announcing his softening, "in several years when we have accomplished all of our enforcement and deportation goals... then - and only then - will we be in a position to consider the appropriate disposition of those individuals who remain."
To nail home that he would not address anything more about the existing 11 million people already here, he asserted that immigration security "is the only conversation we should be having at this time... Cut it off."
So there it is, Trump's brand new policy. His "softening" is that he will no longer seek to immediately deport the 11 million people, but he will not so much as even discuss what to do about them until after several years have passed.
The lame excuse that Trump is hiding behind is that he will first focus on securing the borders, including building the wall, and only after the borders are secure can he then turn to the question of what to do with the 11 million people already here.
If this sounds familiar it is because we have heard it before. This was the position of Marco Rubio during the primaries, and it is a standard right-wing excuse, without any justification, for failing to address the difficult issue of immigration. So Trump is merely adopting the same position of "Little Marco" that Trump once ridiculed as being weak.
Now, Trump's new position may seem quite unsatisfying. And that's because it is. His position is a total and complete cop-out. The big question about immigration is what to do with the 11 million people who are already here, and Trump is now saying that he will completely ignore this entire issue and refuse to offer any position on it whatsoever. This demonstrates very clearly for all to see that Trump is weak, cowardly, and not a leader.
Pathetically, immigration has been Trump's signature issue all along. He has had over an entire year to develop a position on it, and now, here we are, two months before the election, and we see that Trump has no idea what he is doing.
But most notably, not only is Trump's new position a "softening," but it is in fact a complete flip-flop. Trump has spent his entire campaign railing on and on about how he would deport all 11 million people. But now, he has completely abandoned this position.
From a management perspective, the Trump campaign was faced with the question of how to drop this bomb without causing another media frenzy about Trump "softening" and flip-flopping. Well, this is where the dog trick comes into play.
In order to get the media and Trump's right-wing base of supporters to swallow this "softening" pill without even realizing it, Trump's campaign decided to wrap it up in lunchmeat. The outer lunchmeat was a torrent of bombast and aggressive anti-immigration rhetoric. This would ensure that the lead story emerging from the speech would be that Trump doubled-down on his strong anti-immigration position. These headlines are fine with Trump because they are nothing new. Everyone would fall for the outer lunchmeat of the aggressive rhetoric instead of focusing on the hidden little pill wrapped inside the lunchmeat that, in fact, Trump had just adopted a major "softening" and a major flip-flop.
Other than this flip-flop bomb, the speech consisted of little more than non-substantive bombast. One part of the speech was Trump fear-mongering by misleadingly citing instances of immigrants committing crimes. The other part of the speech was just Trump ticking through a laundry list of enforcement items, like building the wall, hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, implementing screening and tracking, and, of course, Trump's ingenious idea of enforcing existing laws.
None of this offered much of anything new in substance. But it was delivered with such vitriolic rhetoric to capture all the headlines in order to divert attention away from the major new bomb in the speech that Trump was "softening" and flip-flopping by no longer seeking to deport all 11 million people.
And sure enough, it seems to have worked. Much of the media coverage has been focused upon the aggressiveness of Trump's speech, and hardly a word about Trump's major "softening" and flip-flop.
The pill was unwittingly swallowed.
Now we'll just have to wait and see whether it was a miracle cure for Trump, or a poison pill.