In President Donald Trump’s administration, a new Rhodes-like figure has emerged. His name is Stephen Miller, Trump's key advisor and resident ideologue on everything from immigration reform to international trade.
Like Obama’s Ben Rhodes, Miller is also very young (currently only 31) and has been accused of lacking sophistication in many of matters he deals with. The New York Times has blasted Miller as "a far-right gadfly with little policy experience." They’ve also said, Miller is "a man whose emails were, until recently, considered spam by many of his Republican peers. Now he is shaping the Trump administration's core domestic policies.”
Miller’s economic nationalism positions on immigration are considered far-right to media elites. They hate the fact that Miller has actually had extensive experience working for some of the best-known legislative torch-bearers of conservative strategy and action, including Republican former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Republican former Senator of Alabama turned Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Under Michele Bachmann, Miller was one of the very youngest press secretaries on Capitol Hill, being just age 22 at the time. He became press secretary for the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Jeff Sessions was a ranking member at the time. It was on this committee that Senator Sessions took notice of the then 24-year-old Miller. He became known for his passion and hard work on immigration policy. Miller helped Sessions in opposing the 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill which Sessions harshly criticized and ultimately was responsible for derailing. Sessions gave Miller credit for compiling critical facts about the legislation that kept it from passing the House of Representatives (after making it through the Senate) and landing on President Obama's desk to be signed.
"We had been working on the ideas in it for months, and Stephen put them in the handbook in a very quick time in a very cogent fashion. It was very timely, and it impacted the outcome of the vote," commented Sessions to the liberal website Politico. According to one Senate staffer, Miller "captured Sessions' voice" and was always "able to anticipate what he needed for an interview or a speech."
In 2015, Sessions introduced Miller to Trump and Miller became Trump's primary speechwriter following the 2016 Republican National Convention. Trump even let Miller speak before Trump came out to address rally attendees, and Miller didn't disappoint.
"We're going to build that wall, and we're going to build it out of love," Miller was fond of saying. Trump campaign worker Jason Miller (no relation), said that "Steve is a true believer in every sense of the word, not just in this message of economic populism but in President Trump as a leader. Steve's fiercely loyal and has a better understanding of the president's vision than almost anyone."
Matthew Continetti, editor-in-chief of the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, wrote about the young Trump advisor, "A combination wonk and flack who not only formulates policy but also writes speeches, press releases and op-eds and assists reporters with scoops and story pegs and telling details, Miller is the populist counterpart to liberal wunderkinds Ezra Klein and Ben Rhodes. He's one of the most effective aides in Washington — despite having lived here for less than a decade."
According to Editor Rich Lowry of the conservative National Review, "[Miller] did more than anyone perhaps except Jeff Sessions himself to bring down the Gang of Eight bill. It's easy to see how he climbed so high in the Trump world, and in the area of immigration policy, few are as committed or as fluent on the details."
Miller receives high praise from Fox News' Sean Hannity, who said, "I've known Stephen Miller for many years, and he's a principled conservative who played a pivotal role for the president during the campaign as a key speech writer and advisor. I also know he's exactly the type of person any administration needs. He's smart, he works long hours, rolls up his sleeves and serves the president and the country and never looks for credit."
Talk radio host Laura Ingraham agreed with the above assessments, saying, "Stephen was very important from an inside policy angle in the effort to stop and expose the Gang of Eight bill and the Transpacific Partnership. He knew their vulnerabilities and understood the substantive argument that led to their defeat.
The New York Times piece recounted that Miller "has been preparing [to work with Trump] for much of his life. From his days at a public high school in Southern California where he preached against 'political correctness' and liberalism and called in to conservative radio shows, to his time at Duke University where he was known for controversial writings in the student newspapers he has delighted in challenging prevailing orthodoxies."
In 2014, after an interview with Trump ran on Breitbart News, Miller commented, "Trump gets it. I wish he'd run for president." Then Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Steve Bannon spoke to Miller and bonded with him during the campaign and surprise victory of Republican Congressman Dave Brat of Virginia, who defeated Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. This contest was a harbinger of Trump's upset win in the general presidential race last November. Bannon has since described Miller as "a loyal and faithful soldier in the Trump movement; a warrior for the working class."
Miller's next task for President Trump is working on an executive order to reform the outdated immigrant guest worker program. It will impose restrictions on cheap foreign labor. Many won’t say this out loud but that is what has resulted in nationwide wage stagnation. The immigrant guest worker program has needed reform for decades. I sure hope that Miller's tenure with Trump will be as long as Ben Rhodes' was with Obama.