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Failure to Focus on What's Important

By contrast [to China's leaders asking "What are the biggest forces shaping this world? And what kind of national strategy do we need so our people can get the most out of these forces and cushion the worst?" and focusing on "building the infrastructure, investments, education and regulations that will enable Chinese companies to lead in supercomputing, new materials, computer-controlled machine tools, industrial robotics, space and aviation equipment — including drones — clean cars, clean energy, biomedicine and next-gen medical devices"], Trump hasn’t even named a science adviser. He pulled out of the Paris climate accord without any input from scientists, and he proposed a budget for fiscal 2018 that eliminated the Department of Energy’s innovation lab (the “Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy”) and slashed funding for all of our key national science and medical labs, which provide the basic research for the very next-gen technologies in which China is now massively investing.

He’s spending the money instead on a wall against Mexico. Is there anything more stupid? ...
This is so dangerous. When the pace of change accelerates in climate, technology and globalization all at once, small errors in leadership navigation can have huge consequences.
- Thomas L. Friedman, Climate Shifts Aren’t Limited to the Weather, NYT, AUG. 2, 2017


As Mr. Trump began exploring a presidential run in 2014, his political advisers landed on the idea of a border wall as a mnemonic device of sorts, a way to make sure their candidate — who hated reading from a script but loved boasting about himself and his talents as a builder — would remember to talk about getting tough on immigration, which was to be a signature issue in his nascent campaign.

“How do we get him to continue to talk about immigration?” Sam Nunberg, one of Mr. Trump’s early political advisers, recalled telling Roger J. Stone Jr., another adviser. “We’re going to get him to talk about he’s going to build a wall.”

Talk Mr. Trump did, and the line drew rapturous cheers from conservative audiences, thrilling the candidate and soon becoming a staple of campaign speeches. Chants of “Build the wall!” echoed through arenas throughout the country.

Now, Mr. Trump’s fixation with a border wall — the material embodiment of his keep-them-out immigration agenda — has run headlong into the new realities of divided government, pitting him against Democrats who reject the idea out of hand. The impasse is particularly remarkable given that even some immigration hard-liners do not regard the wall as their highest priority and fear that Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with it will prompt him to cut a deal that trades a relatively ineffectual measure for major concessions on immigration.
- Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Peter Baker, How the Border Wall Is Boxing Trump In, NYT, Jan. 5, 2019


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