I Really Don’t Care. Do U? 

In the 1992 campaign, President George H.W. Bush created an unofficial and much-mocked motto for his administration during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. "Message: I care," he announced, as if reading aloud the stage directions.

Melania Trump did much the same last week when she went to Texas to see some of the migrant kids who were taken from their parents under her husband's policy. The now-famous wording on her jacket made her a human billboard for what should be the unofficial motto of the Trump administration: "I really don't care, do u?"

click to enlarge REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE
  • REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The administration's cruelty is particularly prominent lately because of photos of the anguish of the migrant children — and Trump's accompanying allegation of "phony stories of sadness" and his warning that immigrants, like insects, would "infest" the country. But the current episode, though highly visible, is hardly one of a kind. By now, the administration has amassed an extensive catalogue of cruelty.

On Thursday, Trump doomed the latest attempt to protect from deportation the "dreamers," those 700,000 people who have known no home but America since they were brought here as children. He tweeted that he didn't see the "purpose" of the House passing an immigration bill — and, sure enough, the House called off the vote. It was his own executive action that exposed the dreamers to deportation in the first place. I really don't care, do u?

On Wednesday night, Trump renewed his assault on Senator John McCain, as he dies from brain cancer. Trump again blamed McCain for the failed repeal of Obamacare.

The administration earlier this month decided not to defend the law against a court challenge that if successful would end protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Trump has also ended subsidies to help insurance companies cover low-income people, and acknowledged the Obamacare repeal he championed was "mean." He gave a green light to work requirements for Medicaid that could deny health insurance even to many poor Americans who work.

I really don't care, do u?

The Trump administration this month said that fleeing domestic violence and gang violence would no longer be grounds for seeking asylum in the United States.

Trump previously reduced the number of refugees from 110,000 to 45,000 per year — the lowest in almost 40 years; and even fewer are actually being admitted, forcing tens of thousands to remain in refugee camps and return to face persecution or violence in the countries they fled. This is after Trump's travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, which resulted in families separated and students and doctors denied entry.

I really don't care, do u?

Lawmakers complained this last week to Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, that the administration's haphazard implementation of trade barriers is causing havoc for farmers, small businesses, and manufacturers. Ross responded by calling such notions "exaggerated" and "not our fault."

A week earlier, as The Washington Post's Jeff Stein and Andrew Van Dam wrote, Trump's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that wages after inflation have fallen over the past year for production and non-supervisory workers — 80 percent of all privately employed workers. That means economic "gains are going almost exclusively to people already at the top of the economic ladder." And the tax cuts further widen the gap between the rich and everybody else.

I really don't care, do u?

Trump's budget proposal this year, sensibly ignored by Congress, would have cut Medicaid by $306 billion over 10 years, food stamps by $214 billion, nutritional help for mothers and children, and heating assistance for the poor, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Trump administration is also reducing enforcement of fair-housing laws. And Trump said Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was not a "real catastrophe" and said Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them." It now appears thousands died.

I really don't care, do u?

Trump said there were "very fine people" among the neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville last summer. He declared a ban on transgender people in the military and later imposed a partial ban. His administration ordered prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for even nonviolent drug crimes.

I really don't care, do u?

Now come reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller — architects and leading defenders of Trump's child-separation policy — were heckled in separate incidents in recent days while dining at Mexican restaurants. Another report this last week highlighted the discovery that Miller's great-grandfather had his naturalization petition denied because of "ignorance." I don't like incivility, or cheap shots. But you know what else? I really don't care, do u?

Dana Milbank writes for the Washington Post Writers Group;

@Milbank on Twitter.

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