Nearly two weeks after Trump announced the debut of his latest reality show, The Trumpdown Smackdown Showdown, closed the federal government and decided to tweet insults and humiliations like a rabid squirrel on a cocaine bender, a delegation of Republican and Democratic leaders minus Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell showed up at the microphones outside of the West Wing to talk about ending the government shutdown.
“What’s your side of the story?” I asked Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, Stenny Hoyer and Chuck Schumer once Republicans finished their bit. Schumer, with all the charm of an aging grandfather who misplaced his teeth, admonished reporters for asking questions. He wanted us to remain quiet until all four representatives finished speaking. It should be known that there are some in the Democratic party who believe Schumer’s arrogance is so similar to President Trump’s that the two are indistinguishable from one another in many circumstances.
It should also be noted there are Democrats who believe if Schumer is leading you into battle, you’ve already lost. And while Republicans quietly acknowledge that Schumer is arrogant, they know he isn’t as ignorant as the man heading the Republican party.
Questions were ignored, Schumer blasted the president and absolutely nothing happened as a result.
The government shutdown is a manufactured crisis by the president at a time when the GOP owns the Senate and the White House. More impressive, it commenced when the GOP owned the Senate, House and the White House. Trump, as many have been reminded, tweeted out during the Obama administration that government shutdowns reflect a weak presidency and a lack of leadership. That was then, this is now and Trump doesn’t care to be held accountable for anything he says or does.
In the movie Captain Phillips, the good captain is kidnapped by Somalian pirates, goes through a horrible ordeal and then when he’s released, he goes back to being a captain. Why would you go back? Wouldn’t the kidnapping teach you there are better things out there, at least some less stressful forms of gainful employment? Apparently not, for Captain Phillips found something he liked and kept doing it even when faced with humiliation, death and ruin.
Being a reporter covering the White House is a lot like that these days. Covering the government shutdown is almost like watching your country being kidnapped by Somalian pirates. Still, reporters have been at the White House every day, though we often don’t get briefings, daily guidance, background information, returned emails or any vital communication outside of tweets and the occasional statement from the White House regarding something the president doesn’t want to be questioned about. The proposed $5 billion for a wall on the U.S. southern border is one of those issues the White House finally had to address to the American people. When it did, Trump manufactured a crisis that simply doesn’t exist.
It became a solar wall, a partial wall, a see-through wall, an eco-friendly wall and now it looks like slats, a “fence” or maybe it’ll just be heads mounted on pikes. Who knows?
A wall won’t stop most illegal immigration—those in many cases involving people who have overstayed their visas. In every case cited by this administration to support a need for a wall, there are better, cheaper and more effective alternatives. Still, that doesn’t keep our president from misleading and misinforming the public with tweets reading “Sadly, there can be no REAL Border Security without the Wall!”
The wall, as originally envisioned while on the campaign trail, was a 1,900 mile “beautiful” wall stretching from sea to shining sea. Someone then informed Trump that such a wall couldn’t actually be built because you can’t really build a wall through Big Bend National Park. So it became a solar wall, a partial wall, a see-through wall, an eco-friendly wall and now it looks like slats, a “fence” or maybe it’ll just be heads mounted on pikes. Who knows?
Of course, originally Mexico was going to pay for it but Mexican politicians gave us the finger on that one. There isn’t even a consensus from administration officials on how they intend to spend the $5 billion they want for the wall. (At least, no one in the DHS or the White House has replied to my written request for a budget breakdown on how the money will be spent.) There is a nice page on the DHS website, but telling me you want “55 miles” of fence in and around Laredo, Texas doesn’t tell me much.
A DHS employee I’ve known for years recently told me the department is being run by the fools with tin foil hats who previously weren’t allowed through the front door, and he feared the rest of the Trump administration was the same way, as was his entire political party, the GOP. The administration has been compromised by fools—folks on the outside who for years were not allowed through the front door. People who worship the rapture, racists, morons who don’t understand science, nationalists, religious fanatics who believe laws should be based on the Ten Commandments instead of the Bill of Rights, countless numbers of people who haven’t the background for the job they are doing or are so feckless as to not understand what their job even entails.
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Coulter proved Trump to be that sucker when she pulled the trigger and created the government shutdown. Nearly two weeks ago, the president was going to cut a deal with Congress to keep the government open and accept enhanced border security without explicit money for a wall. That was an act of political leadership and a lesson in The Art of The Deal: A leader willing to compromise for the greater good.
Then Coulter said she wouldn’t support Trump any more if he did that. And Trump caved. This probably provided Coulter with a thrill she hadn’t had since she purchased that white robe with the pointy hat, but at any rate the die was cast.
Now everyone is concerned about how much longer the shutdown will last and what harm will be done to a once great nation. Trump? He loves the attention, but this latest distraction cannot hide the reckoning coming his way. The Democrats are now in control of the House and will begin to hold Trump accountable in ways the Republicans never could. In the end of this crisis we will find ourselves back where we began, and the man who promised to drain the swamp will once again prove he is drowning in it.