Donald Trump delivered a much-hyped prime time Oval office speech on Tuesday night which delivered on precisely zero percent of the hype. Trump had threatened to declare a state of emergency and fund his border wall that way (which isn’t even possible), but instead his speech was merely nine minutes of half-awake slogging through the same old tired talking points.
In so doing, Donald Trump took full ownership of his government shutdown, while failing to change a single mind about the shutdown being justified or the wall being necessary. We knew the speech would be a nothing burger, but it still raised questions about why Trump bothered to even try such a gambit if he wasn’t willing to take any risks or try anything new during his speech. We may have the answer.
Even as Donald Trump was preparing to go before the cameras, his own Republican-controlled Senate was publicly caving on his government shutdown. For instance, roughly two hours before the speech, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski called for the government to be reopened before any negotiations take place about Trump’s wall.
Murkowski joined Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, and other GOP Senators in making this suggestion. It’s not that we trust any of these people; we absolutely do not. But they’re publicly making clear that they want this shutdown debacle to be over with, putting pressure on Mitch McConnell to allow a Senate vote on the House legislation. Then Donald Trump would need to decide whether he’s willing to veto a bill that would reopen the government. Perhaps Trump’s speech was so lifeless because he realized he’s lost his own party on this issue.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report