Donald Trump, the great negotiator, negotiated himself into a box yesterday.
Trump told Senator Chuck Schumer that if he doesn’t get what he wants for funding a border wall with Mexico, that he would shut the government down and take all the blame for it. He said, on camera, that he wouldn’t blame Schumer or the Democrats, and he’d take all the blame. He also said he would be “proud” to shut the government down for border security.
The nation doesn’t like government shutdowns, especially around Christmas. In the past, both parties blamed each other for shutdowns even though nobody wins them except Bill Clinton. Now, Democrats can refuse to fund the wall, let Trump shut down the government, and watch public scorn land on him. Trump gave Democrats little reason to give him funding for the wall.
Publicly, Republicans responded by saying they didn’t want a shutdown, and they hoped the negotiations would continue. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the discussions in the Oval Office between Trump, Schumer, and Pelosi as “spirited.” If Republicans are saying that in public then they’re probably screaming behind closed doors.
One administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Trump appeared upset after leaving the meeting, flicking a folder and sending papers flying out. A staffer told the Los Angeles Times after Schumer and Pelosi left, the West Wing sprang into “damage-control mode,” adding, “The aftermath of that meeting was not pretty.”
And you wonder why no reasonable person wants to be his Chief of Staff.
Trump invited the Democrats into a trap. The setting was before cameras where Trump feels he has the edge. The Democrats even offered to take the discussion private to avoid the theatrics, but Trump refused, citing “transparency.” Unfortunately, if your trap hinges on your being more intelligent and more prepared than your opponents, and you’re neither, you’re going to fall into your own trap.
Reality TV is not reality. Reality is what Chuck and Nancy delivered each time Trump lied. He lied about having Republican support in the House for the wall (which they haven’t voted to fund over the past two years). Trump lied eight times that construction on the wall has started. He claimed Mexico would pay for the wall by paying higher prices for American goods in the “New Nafta.” The Democrats called him out on his lies. The reality is that Trump is not going to get funding for his stupid wall.
Trump is not used to being corrected or stood up to. In classic bully fashion, when confronted, he backed down.
Trump attempted some mansplaining and got schooled. He said Pelosi was “in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now,” because of her race for Speaker. Pelosi calmly hit back, with, “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.”
Later, she got her digs in. She said, “You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.” But the statement that will truly sting Trump the most was, “It’s like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him.” Pelosi “smocked” Trump. The only thing that would have made it better would have been one of the Democrats referring to Trump as “Individual One.”
Any doubt that still existed before this that Pelosi is the one to take on Trump is now extinguished. Jules and Vincent couldn’t have walked out of the cafe any cooler at the end of Pulp Fiction than Pelosi walked out of the White House yesterday.
Democrats have put two offers on the table, neither of which has wall funding: $1.6 billion in “fencing” along the southern border or a continuation of last year’s spending levels for the Department of Homeland Security, about $1.3 billion. Trump is demanding $5 billion.
For Trump sycophants, they see Trump defending their interest by demanding that they pay for a campaign promise he broke. On the campaign trail, Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall. At no point during the 2016 presidential campaign did Trump say American taxpayers would have to pay for his stupid, useless, racist border wall. Now, he’s telling his supporters they should be upset that Democrats won’t make them pay for it.
Democrats should not give Trump one cent for his wall. They also should not use Dreamers as a bargaining chip like they did earlier in the year. Don’t make Americans pay for Trump’s broken campaign promise, especially on something useless that’s only designed to appeal to a xenophobic, nationalistic, racist base.
And welcome to the new reality where Trump is not in control, and he might actually realize it. Trump is not a negotiator, intelligent, or even remotely competent for the presidency. Hopefully, Republicans start to realize it too.
Watch me draw.