By Colleen O'Connor
Trump’s governmental shutdown over a “great big wall that Mexico will pay for” and that he “is proud to own” is now more joke than serious policy.
Not only will Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer never yield, neither will the late-night comedians.
Why? Because a “4th-century wall” is porous and dumb.
People can climb over it. Tunnel under it. Use a catapult to deliver contraband over it.
High-tech improvements, more border guards, drones, and better coordination with Mexican and Central American governments to stop the flow of immigrants and refugees would be money better spent.
Why? Because his own Department of Homeland Security “tested a steel slat prototype and proved it could be cut through with a saw.”
A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News showed the results of the test after experts from the Marine Corps were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.
Then, there was Trump’s latest walkout while supposedly negotiating with Pelosi and Schumer. This, according to his own lawyer, is a “signature ploy” that Trump has used in his divorce proceedings and business dealings “when a deal wasn’t going his way.” By now it has become tiresome.
Even Trump may now understand that he is flailing.
Like a “dead man walking,” the President commented that his prime time Oval Office address and the visit to the Texas border “won’t change a damn thing.”
Indeed, the landowners along the proposed wall route are already resisting buyouts and threats of eminent domain.
So, what is a President to do? He has three “Plan B” choices: go big, go back or go bust.
Go big is the option being led by moderate senators and Jared Kushner, who want to end the shutdown and devise a way to get Trump off the ledge before he jumps into a “declaration of a national emergency.” It would include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, humanitarian aid for Central American refugees seeking asylum and some money for the border security and “fencing.”
Go back merely asks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring to the Senate floor the bill that nearly all senators and House members voted to approve just last month. Trump had signaled his support for the measure, but quickly reneged after a backlash from conservative TV and radio commentators because “wall” funding was not included.
Go bust appears to be the trajectory the President currently prefers. His Oval Office speech showed him in a sober setting with not just “low energy,” but great difficulty reading from a teleprompter. It reduced his stature and leverage in prime time.
His visit to the Mexican border will do even less to advance his position. Paychecks, food vouchers, farm aid, airport safety, Coast Guard operations—and even produce inspections—are just a few of the downsides produced by an unnecessary government shutdown. And they are hitting his base.
The popularity of the President has declined. His inability to comprehend the quicksand under him and his “wall” makes for compelling theater amid unnecessary chaos.
Pray the President does not “listen to his gut” and find an emergency “Plan C.”
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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