Vainest of Vanities

The only reason March 5th is "our last chance" at a DACA deal is if Trump makes it so.


Life is full of last chances.

Tragedies and comedies alike exploit the power—and reality—of last chances.  The ship is about to leave.  You approach the plank, undecided.  This is your last chance at a new life. Or, your unrequited love is about to ruin both of your lives by marrying that bozo.  This is your last chance to pour out your heart to tell her you love her.

And so on.

The business world in particular is full of last chances, though last chance financial transactions rarely entail the pathos worthy of a Hallmark Channel television drama.    But that makes them no less real.  If you don’t put down an offer on that house, someone else will snatch it up immediately.  This is your last chance.  If you don’t accept my offer at partnership in the business, I’m offering it to someone else.  This is your last chance.

The last chance proclamation (or threat) is, if credible, a powerful tool for clarifying the stakes and forcing a decision.  But to be effective it has to be credible.  It helps if the ship really is leaving.  If the marriage is scheduled. If there is another buyer waiting in the wings.  If there is a wannabe partner eager to get in the business.

But if it is not credible, then it’s just bluster and a show of weakness.  President Trump tweeted this morning that when it comes to a DACA deal, “This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.”

That is patent nonsense.

The March 5th deadline was established by executive order, and it could be pushed back as often as Trump desires.  And even if he let the deadline lapse without a deal, that doesn’t mean that a legislative deal could not yet be worked out.   This is not a business transaction with a firm deadline.  The only reason March 5th is “our last chance” at a DACA deal is if Trump makes it so.  In which case he would be willing to ruin thousands of lives for his pride and vanity.  Which is dreadful enough, but to dress up his vanity in the rhetorical cloak of necessity is all the more galling.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, ,
Michael Bailey
About Michael Bailey
Michael is Associate Professor of Government and International Studies at Berry College in Rome, GA. His academic publications address the American Founding, the American presidency, religion and politics, and governance in liberal democracies. He also writes on popular culture, and his articles on, among other topics, patriotism, Church and State, and Kurt Vonnegut, have been published in Prism and Touchstone. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas in Austin, where he also earned his BA. He’s married and has three children. He joined OTB in November 2016.


  1. It’s also worth noting that the injunction issued by a Federal Judge in San Francisco against the Trump E.O. remains in effect, As long as that is the case, the people who benefit from DACA will continue to enjoy that status. At the same time, though, the order has no impact on the fact that people fall off the DACA rolls nearly every day due to the fact that the two-year time limit for DACA benefits has expired for them, Prior to the Trump Administration, it was possible for these people to renew their status but that’s no longer possible an it’s unclear what will happen to these people if DACA is not renewed.

  2. Michael Bailey says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Doug Mataconis:

    Thanks, Doug! Excellent reminders.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Vainest of Vanities, truly trumpian in it’s scale.

  4. Tyrell says:

    I say that they should pass some sort of “continuing resolution” so that they can study the situation. Continue until 2050.

  5. JKB says:

    Prior to the Trump Administration, it was possible for these people to renew their status

    As long as the federal government ignored the Constitutionality of the program. Sure, why not continue a program that the DOJ office tasked with making the assessment has found to be unconstitutional based on recent SCOTUS decisions? Why on earth would anyone want to worry about that old, musty Constitution when bureaucrats and politicians can rule by fiat?

    As for the March 5th deadline, it is a hard date to get Congress to do its job. If it is “flexible” the losers in Congress will never do anything but spout off on CNN and FOX.