“I love babies. I hear that baby cry, I like it. What a baby. What a beautiful baby. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”
— Donald Trump in 2016, when a baby cried during a campaign speech
“Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here.”
— Trump, two minutes later
Washington - President Trump loves kids. This is why his border guards are firing tear gas at them.
Americans are shocked by images from Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday showing U.S. agents firing tear gas at migrant families, forcing barefoot children in diapers to disperse in pain and terror.
But the firing of tear gas at toddlers, properly understood, is an act of mercy by the Trump administration. The White House last week authorized the U.S. military to use “lethal force” against the migrants. Trump himself had suggested troops, if threatened, should feel free to shoot them.
And what could be more threatening to U.S. military personnel than a vast army of pipsqueaks, lacking potty training and running dangerously low on diapers? The use of tear gas instead of live ammo was an act of love.
The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche posited: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Trump's policies toward children take Nietzsche seriously and literally.
What others may see as abject cruelty is a pure expression of love. How can America be great if its children — citizens and immigrants — are soft?
Some Americans howled when the Trump administration, under its "zero tolerance" policy, tore nearly 2,000 children from their parents' arms and warehoused them in makeshift barracks — some yet to be reunited. But Trump, by separating parents from children, was compassionately protecting these children from the dangers associated with attachment parenting and co-sleeping, including accidental suffocation.
Likewise, Trump's attempts to cut the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid should be seen as an incentive to follow best practices. By keeping children from medical practitioners, Trump would eliminate all unnecessary doctor visits, end the overprescribing of antibiotics and defeat autism by doing away with vaccines.
Trump's efforts to cut food stamps for kids are a similar expression of affection: Studies show that there is a near-zero chance that children will suffer from obesity if they cannot eat.
On and on go Trump's gestures of love of children: Eliminating birthright citizenship would save millions of kids from the eventual hardships of jury duty and voting. Giving lenders more power over student borrowers protects countless young people from on-campus assaults by keeping them from campus in the first place. And arming teachers would provide the means to end bullying — decisively.
Jesus said, "Suffer little children." And, because nobody reads the Bible more than Trump, he is letting them suffer.
Philip Alston, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extreme poverty, told the Guardian in June that U.S. policy is "tragic" and is "building a future citizenry that is under-nourished, under-educated, under-stimulated."
But it is being done out of love!
"I love these kids," Trump said of the "dreamers" — those brought to the United States as children — when he tried to end the DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — program granting them legal residency. Because he loves them, he has to set them free of America, via deportation.
"I love kids," Trump continued. "I have kids and grandkids."
Trump does not necessarily love being a father. Of his own kids, he said, "I won't do anything to take care of them," because that would be to "act like the wife."
But he loves “beautiful children” and has used that phrase 24 times since his campaign began, according to Factba.se. And none is quite so beautiful as his daughter Ivanka, whom Trump has described as “hot” and “very voluptuous.”
Trump's uncommon ardor for his own daughter is very important, because as the great thinker Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a Trump loyalist, has observed, "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
And yet, Trump is trying, selflessly, to make other peoples' babies as great as his own.
Trump's concern for others' babies also explains his administration's use of tear gas on migrant tots. He seemed genuinely outraged by the "Animal Assad" after the Syrian leader used poison gas on children. "It crossed a lot of lines for me, when you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas that is so lethal," Trump said.
So now Trump's agents have fired non-lethal chemical gas at babies — to toughen them for the cruel world that awaits. What doesn't kill them makes them stronger.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.