This isn’t “news”, but it turns out nobody knows what Donald Trump would or wouldn’t accept in terms of a deal to end the government shutdown before it inflicts any further damage on the US economy and/or puts further pressure on working families and/or causes more disruptions to critical services.
According to several sources who spoke to Bloomberg, even those closest to the president aren’t sure where he stands. Some say he could potentially agree to make concessions on the $5.7 billion figure he continues to insist is necessary for the construction of a proper wall/barrier/fence “if Homeland Security officials whoâ€™ve been advising him on border security signed off on it.”
Of course his weekend address betrayed no such willingness, nor did it represent a proposal that was materially different from what he’s suggested in the past. Rather, it was, at heart, a mishmash of previously floated ideas cobbled together with a reiteration of the $5.7 billion figure which everyone understands to be nothing more than a random number that Trump feels an obligation to stick with only because changing it would make him look “weak.”
Although the Senate will vote on competing proposals tomorrow (one that includes funding for Trump’s wall and a stopgap bill that doesn’t), that may well be an exercise in futility and could achieve the opposite of its intended effect – that is, rather than serve as evidence of “movement”, it could end up underscoring the partisan divide.
Worse, depending on how things pan out, Trump could end up pulling the veto card and the math on overriding him looks next to impossible. Given that everyone already knows that math, it seems unlikely that Republicans would even entertain letting Schumer’s proposal pass the Senate again, because what’s the point?
“We’re in a funny place. I don’t think the president wants to end this shutdown unless he’s sure his proposal will be taken seriously. And we can’t take his proposal seriously until the shutdown’s over,” Politico quotes Sen. Tim Kaine remarking on Tuesday.
That’s the easy way to frame this, but let’s be honest. The reason nobody can take Trump’s proposal seriously is the same reason Beijing doesn’t take him seriously on trade and the same reason reporters end up writing things like the following (from the Bloomberg article linked above):
[The President’s] closest advisers have competing senses of what the president would be willing to accept as part of a deal with Democrats to reopen government, underscoring the difficulty negotiators face in bridging the impasse over border security funding. On Tuesday, people close to the president offered two different views of what he might concede in a possible negotiation.
Simply put, nobody can take Trump seriously because he changes his mind from minute to minute based at least in part (and we now know this to be true) on what Fox News personalities say both on air and, as it turns out, in private conversations with the President.
On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to ask America to literally “pray” for his wall. In the course of appealing to the divine, he unveiled what he’s calling “a new theme.”
“Great unity in the Republican Party”, Trump said, before delivering this series of sentence fragments:
Want to, once and for all, put an end to stoppable crime and drugs! Border Security and Wall. No doubt!
Actually, there’s considerable “doubt” about pretty much everything right now, which is kinda the point. He continued (and here’s where the prayer call comes in):
BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL! This is the new theme, for two years until the Wall is finished (under construction now), of the Republican Party. Use it and pray!
Yes, “use it and pray!”
Trump – a man whose moral compass always points straight to hell – is now demanding that America ask Jesus to help him secure $5.7 billion to build a monument to xenophobia and intolerance on the southern border.
Admittedly, I’m not currently on speaking terms with Jesus so I can’t know this for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that he’s not particularly enthusiastic about the wall idea, given what we know about his track record.
And when it comes to “prayer”, you can bet that’s what some 800,000 furloughed workers have resorted to, because here in a few days, they’re going to miss a second paycheck.