After his pal Roger Stone was arrested, and the FAA began grounding flights due to his government shutdown, Donald Trump did what he does best: he caved. He agreed to reopen the government for three weeks without any funding for his border wall, which means of course that he’ll never ever ever get his border wall. His supporters and detractors both knew it, and so the prevailing narrative was how Trump caved. Just don’t tell that to him.
How much of a punchline did Donald Trump bec0me after he caved on Friday? Twelve hours later, the #TrumpCaved hashtag was still trending prominently on Twitter. It wasn’t just the Resistance piling on, either. Ann Coulter, who has somehow become the default voice for Trump’s racist base, lambasted him for being the “biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.” Trump was so upset by it all, he began lashing out accordingly.
Donald Trump posted this weirdly self pitying tweet: “I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!” When you find yourself publicly lamenting that your words weren’t interpreted the way you had hoped, it means you’ve totally lost. Then it got weird.
Just a few minutes later, Sarah Huckabee Sanders quoted Trump’s tweet and added this: “In 21 days President Donald Trump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing.” The similar tone and timing raised the question of whether perhaps she wrote his tweet to begin with. After all, she was the one out there fielding questions about Stone’s arrest today. Is she running this debacle now?
In any case, Donald Trump and Sarah Sanders can beat their chests all they want about what’s supposedly going to happen in 21 days. Trump had no leverage on this matter to begin with, which is why he had to cave today with nothing in return. Three weeks from now he’ll have even less leverage. If he shuts the government down again in three weeks, he’ll be ousted by dinnertime. His ongoing empty threat to declare a national emergency has become a national punchline – as has what little is left of his comatose presidency.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report