As noted a couple of days ago, if it was the intent of the self-described militiamen who took over an Oregon wildlife preserve to force their concerns upon the Republican presidential candidates, their plan has backfired on them. As far as I know, all those who've spoken on the subject have denounced the armed group's takeover of a federal building. Now comes Donald Trump, who as the most unorthodox of Republicans might have been expected to break the consensus. His response to the incident sounds strong at first but ends up weak. Trump joins the other candidates in urging the gunmen to leave the building. He expresses the demand perhaps more forcefully than his rivals, and in terms they might be uncomfortable with, saying "at a certain point you have to do something and you have to be firm and you have to be strong, you have to be a government."While the Obama administration is playing things cool, most likely not wanting to stir up the rabble or be accused of perpetrating another Waco, Trump argues that if you let people take over federal property, "you don't have a government anymore." So far, so good. What Obama may miss about this is that his cautious stand plays into Trump's portrayal of him as a weak leader, while Trump tells tales about how he'd resolve things more quickly and decisively. Then Trump blows it. He blows it when he tells the interviewer how he'd talk to Ammon Bundy or whoever he thinks "the leader" is. He says, "I would talk to him and I would say, 'You gotta get out — come see me, but you gotta get out,'"
What in Hell is this "come see me" business? It's plain and simple appeasement. There is only one place the Bundy brothers and their people can go from that building, and that's straight to jail -- and some readers will say I'm being generous. If Trump thinks the way to end the takeover is to promise the leader of this unlawful act to meet him at the White House for a chat, then if anything his position is weaker than Obama's. If Republicans have spent years sneering at Obama's White House beer party for Henry Louis Gates and the cop who arrested him by mistake outside his own home, what should they think of Trump inviting Ammon Bundy there after he led an armed seizure of a federal building? Bundy and his people have surrendered any right they had to express their grievance personally to higher authorities, especially when you recall that the convicted ranchers on whose behalf the gunmen took the building don't want these idiots' help. To be fair to Trump, he did not mean his offer of a talk to cover entirely his range of "firm" and "strong" options. But the fact that he even offers a talk as an option, without requiring a surrender as well as a departure from the building, should leave people asking exactly how strong a leader this self-acclaimed dealmaker really would be.