Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should give up now.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: This shutdown is a game of chicken -- one jalopy zooming toward the other. Such a game is always won by the sicko who doesn't mind crashing. Pelosi and Schumer are not sickos; therefore, they cannot win.
Trump, by contrast, feels that he must achieve victory at any cost.
One of these knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast President Trump kicked off the meeting with a rant lasting roughly 15 minutes that included his $5.6 billion demand for a border wall, and threatened that he was willing to keep the government closed for “years” if that’s what it took to get his wall. He also, unprompted, brought up the Democrats who want him impeached, and even blamed Pelosi for new Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib saying at a party earlier this week that Democrats would impeach the “motherfucker” Trump. (It is unclear why Trump would think Pelosi was responsible for this.)
I'm hardly a member the Language Police, but Tlaib should understand that it works to the benefit of the Democrats if they are seen as the grown-ups.
The more important point is that Trump isn't lying. He really will keep the thing shut down for years. Trump is not like other presidents; other presidents were sane
. He doesn't care if the government ceases to function; he doesn't care if democracy itself falls. He's quite willing to crash the car; arguably, crashing the car was the real reason Putin put him in the oval office.
Right now, the polls are against the Wall
. But opposition is not overwhelming; it hovers close to the 50 percent mark. People are persuadable on this issue -- and the incessant coverage of the shutdown will give the Trumpers many chances to make their case. I would not be surprised to learn that the polls have already shifted.
Recall the precedent of the Iran-contra scandal. Many liberals thought that the hearings -- in particular, the questioning of Ollie North -- would destroy the credibility of the Reagan administration. The opposite occurred: The nation watched as North spoke at length about the need to arm the contras -- and for the first time, public opinion shifted in favor of American intervention in Central America. The shift didn't last; nevertheless, it was real.
What happened then could happen next week.
The idea of a Trump declaring national emergency
should terrify everyone. Once Trump gets a taste of extra-Constitutional power, he'll want more. And more and more. The wall could provide Trump with his excuse to become a full-on tyrant.
Democrats will mount a legal challenge to such a declaration -- but in doing so, they could hobble a potential Democratic president in the future. Why did the Republicans in Congress give FDR what he wanted? In large part, they did so because Roosevelt threatened to declare an emergency and to take on quasi-authoritarian powers. It's the presidential version of the "nuclear option." Granting that option to a Roosevelt means granting it to a Trump. Conversely, denying it to Trump now could mean denying it to a future Roosevelt, who may need emergency powers to deal with a genuine
Better to end this mess now. Nobody wants to see that orange bastard do a victory dance, but that dance won't last long.
By the way:
The moment Trump told reporters that previous presidents favored the wall, I knew he was lying. Politico proves the point
. But what's the point of proving the point? His followers will always believe only what they want