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President Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” was never a serious policy proposal.

E.J. Dionne Jr. mug

E.J. Dionne Jr. | The Washington Post

It was a symbol to reassure his supporters that he would keep the sorts of people they don’t like out of the country. It was also a memory device designed by his advisers to remind Trump to talk about immigration in every 2016 campaign speech.

But since Trump has absolutely no interest in policy, it is appropriate that he has shut down part of our government to defend a piece of rhetoric.

He didn’t even intend to do this. Late last year, he signaled to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he’d sign a bill to keep the government open and McConnell dutifully got it through the Senate unanimously.

Trump closed a quarter of the government (“I will take the mantle of shutting it down,” he said in December) only after right-wing commentators told him they would be very mad if he relented on The Wall. Thus did a chief executive who likes us to think he’s strong cower before a few ideologues who have only microphones and pixels as their weapons. This is the context of the useless, genuinely stupid fight we are in. It’s why the president’s speech to the nation on Tuesday night was so empty, so unpersuasive to anyone but the already committed. Trump now loves this shutdown because it does four things for him: It makes him the center of attention.

It tells his base that he is willing to stand up for the idol they adore. It pushes aside inconvenient news — about the Russia probe, about the administration’s flipping and flopping on Syria, about the many administration posts that are empty.

And it creates the appearance that he is doing something when, in fact, he is doing nothing at all, except keeping large numbers of federal employees from carrying on and earning a living. Trump’s phony “crisis” talk means he may have to call his own bluff. This is why there is a good chance he will invoke emergency powers to force the military to build the wall.

The move would perfectly sum up his approach to government: It would look dramatic and “strong,” it would waste federal funds for self-aggrandizing reasons, and it would be an abuse of his authority, since the “emergency” in question is not an emergency at all.

The only intelligible rationale behind Trump’s shutdown is Richard Nixon’s old “madman theory.” The idea is that if one party to a negotiation behaves in a particularly crazy and dangerous way, the more reasonable people at the table will give in simply to end the lunacy and avoid catastrophe.

Already, sane voices are proffering compromises — for example, to give Trump some wall money in exchange for protecting the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents when they were young.

The problem is that Trump has repeatedly rejected deals on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. And the same anti-immigrant voices who pushed Trump to shutter the government have put him on notice that they would see concessions of this sort as a sell-out. Right wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted her spleen Sunday by referring to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law thought to be interested in a deal, and Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister famous for appeasing Hitler: “If Kushner (Trump) trades amnesty for a wall, history books will have to be pulled from the shelves to replace ‘Neville Chamberlain’ with ‘Donald Trump.’”

Trump is willing to keep hundreds of thousands of government workers idle and unpaid. He lacks the guts to stand up to Coulter and her allies.

Which means that the only path forward is for sensible souls to pressure McConnell and other Senate Republicans to stop enabling the blusterer-in-chief and put bills on Trump’s desk to reopen the government. Already, at least three Republican senators (with others titling that way) have said it’s time to do this. More should join them.

On Fox News after Trump’s speech, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned that if Republicans “undercut the president, that’s the end of his presidency and the end of our party.”

Graham was at best half-right.

Yes, Republicans might humiliate Trump by forcing him to acknowledge that this whole business is a fool’s errand. But in doing so, they would be taking a step toward rehabilitating a party that has regularly abetted the depredations of a man who cares only about the spotlight and a totem he claimed Mexico, not American taxpayers, would finance.

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E.J. Dionne is a columnist for The Washington Post.

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(55) comments

capedcrusader

Loons are often heard and not seen whether in the movies or in nature or in the Lacrosse Tribune. Loons are the Minnesota state bird as well as the provincial bird of Ontario. Mercer, Wisconsin promotes itself as the "Loon Capital of the World". Thoreau describes a playful and inspiring acquaintance with a loon on Walden Pond in his book Walden. Thank You "A Veteran"!

capedcrusader

"A Veteran", I never said anywhere there wasn't one did I? I asked where it was as my post below shows. MEANWHILE, you and Czeczok continue with the name calling like two little kids that didn't get their way and add nothing to the discussion. No wonder you like Trump so much! Bullying isn't even acceptable on Facebook anymore, I'm surprised the Tribune is allowing you to continue. I suggest they update their terms and utilize a good IP Checker and registration system to make sure nobody is using more than one name.

martian2

for the poor guy named veteran who never reveals his sources but asks others to reveal theirs I am always happy to do so. I have nothing to hide. While the other guy always says look it up yourself. So here is sources about lettuce and another on immigrant crimes and the lies Trump uses to hype up the haters of the world, his base supporters. https://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2018/06/death_toll_in_romaine_lettuce.html and of course another one, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/07/06/trump-falsely-claims-the-human-toll-of-illegal-immigration/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0c00fde0dc8b and of course there is always this one, https://www.factcheck.org/2018/06/is-illegal-immigration-linked-to-more-or-less-crime/

A Veteran

cape-----If you find someone who believes you thought there was not a caravan other than one of your fellow LOONS tell us about it . FOOL!!!!!

capedcrusader

"A Veteran", you didn't comprehend my comment above did you? Why don't you just use your superhero abilities and keep all of us posted on it then? Our nation is terrified to death about it. Meanwhile maybe you can also keep us abreast of the Hillary going to prison movement . My $100 has been set aside just for you.

A Veteran

cape the foolish LOON----Just grow a pair and take my bet and I am all in on yours just as soon as you take mine COWARDLY LOON!!!!!!

capedcrusader

The first comment above was for you " A Veteran". Methinks you got your feelings hurt and can't comment on anything now without calling people names. Have another martini.

capedcrusader

"Climatehoax", what happened to that "caravan" that all you Republicans were worried about? That manufactured distraction not enough to take the heat off Trumps troubles?

martian2

too all you misanthropes who don't have a good word to say about anyone. Why don't we compromise on this border thing. Why don't we do the same we do for our kids who get killed in their schools. Let's protect our border with thoughts and prayers, its the same thing we say and do when our kids are murdered. Don't have to do a thing more, just wring your hands and keep praying. what can go wrong! And its a lot cheaper for the tax payers.

oldhomey

Well-said, martian.

Climatehoax

If this is a made up crisis, so is man caused climate change. The predicted future of climate change catastrophe are computer models, shaped by the agenda of the person inputting data, fake results.
THERE ARE ACTUALLY DEAD BODIES TO PROVE THE BORDER CRISIS.
There was much outcry about the illegal alien kids who died in the camp, not nearly as much play about Americans killed by illegals.

martian2

We have dead bodies from drug overdoses, or drunk drivers, or gang wars, or home grown crazed gun men, why not declare a National emergency on those? There are more dead bodies than you can count on those crises, yet not a word is said by your leader on those fronts. You know Hoaxer, last year more people in this country died from tainted lettuce than from illegals. Chew on that the next time you have a salad.

A Veteran

martain ---even one dead from an ILLEGAL maybe could have been prevented,Why do'nt you talk to the family of a person killed by an ILLEGAL see how they feel.Prove that more people died from tainted lettuce,you lie to much to believe you--KINKY!!!!

martian2

sending my thoughts and prayers to you veteran. Then go talk to the victims of home grown terrorists and tell them you are sending your thoughts and prayers. I'm sure that will be a great comfort to them. I'll do the same with the border, what can go wrong. enjoy your salad.

martian2

I guess veteran keeps looking for a partner to satisfy his fantasies. I was told that using the word kinky is code among those seeking same gender partners. Told ya before veteran I don't swing that way, better look else where . Thoughts and prayers to you!

A Veteran

martain ---how come every time you are shown to be a fool you try to change subject,just like a spoiled child!!!KINKY

capedcrusader

You need to get out more. You sir are in denial.

oldhomey

Amen, caped.

oldhomey

Well, Climate, it is all well and good to write in non-specific generalities, especially ALL IN CAPS! It is SO dramatic and impressive. However, if you want to make a real point, perhaps you could come up with the statistics that show there is an epidemic of murders in this country committed by illegal aliens, with cities and towns all over the country raising a hue and cry to stem this tidal wave of violence in their midst. Are there millions of illegals living in this country? Yes. Are they committing an out-sized amount of violence and crime? No. For decades FBI statistics have shown the rate of criminal behavior and criminal violence among immigrants is far lower than it is with American citizens. Or perhaps you subscribe to the Trump theory that the FBI is lying to make him look bad. If so, it has been saying this since decades before he ever ran for president.

allcav

Never mind that the caravans of immigrants keep coming and want to cross the border. Never mind that American taxpayers spend $134.9 billion annually on illegal aliens. Never mind the drugs coming into our country. The President wants border security. It's a no-brainer! ~Mary

martian2

allcav, try dealing with facts. In the last ten years illegal immigration has steadily declined, that is a fact. There is no crisis at the border, just a made up fabrication by Trump, a fact. border security is one thing, everyone is for that. A boon doggle wall will not and is not the answer to increased security. Many American towns on the border do not want a wall built by them. Illegal drugs are coming in mostly from boats and planes and smuggled in cars and trucks, a wall will do nothing to stop that. Where you get this 134 billion dollar figure is anyone's guess. I'm guessing from fox news or a right wing web site.

A Veteran

martain ---The 134 billion dollar figure comes from the governments reports to congress easy to find if you want to.But a liberal LOON wit his head hid up his a$$ will not see them ----KINKY---!!!!!!

PhysicsIsFun

"Taxpayers are forced to “shell out approximately $134.9bn to cover the costs incurred by the presence of more than 12.5 million illegal aliens, and about 4.2 million citizen children of illegal aliens” at the federal, state and local level, the report concluded. However, policy experts claim there are serious flaws in the study’s methodology and accuse the report’s authors of inflating the number of illegal immigrants in the country. Fair’s method of estimating fiscal costs is “fatally flawed” and “rejected by all economists who work on this subject,” says the Cato Institute."

https://www.theweek.co.uk/fact-check/98666/fact-check-how-much-does-illegal-immigration-cost-the-us

martian2

well there you go veteran, I was right. It was some crazed republican that came up with these numbers, and it is rejected by all economists. Thank you physics. Do your homework veteran.

A Veteran

martain ---you just can not keep from lying can you?The report you are siting is not by all economists just the ones that wrote this report ,others economists disagree with this report .Opinion are like a$$holes everybody has one.In your case yours must be real crowded what with your big head stuck up there.Quit lying KINKY!!!!!!!!

oldhomey

Well, brilliant, A Veteran (of no known military organization)! Any a$$hole, as you put it, can come up with any a$$hole statistics he or she wants to in order to support a false conclusion, And every a$$hole who wants to subscribe to that false conclusion will gladly embrace the a$$hole statistics to make themselves feel right and justified. The trouble with a$$hole statistics and a$$holes in general is that they are easily detected because they stink so much. You were detected on these boards practically from the first time you posted.

allcav

The figure comes from an in-depth probe, conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit group dedicated to studying immigration issues. It includes th e cost of education, medical care, law enforcement and welfare. This was reported in Judicial Watch's Corruption Chronicles. Do your research! ~Mary

oldhomey

Allcav proves that you can lead a horse to water but that you can't make him drink. This is especially true if you are speaking of the south end of a northbound horse, which Allcav seems to be.

martian2

oh allcav, that "Fair" group you mentioned is a propaganda misinformation advocate with far right wing agenda full of lies and more lies. Its no wonder nothing gets done in this country, too many people fall victim to this type of hysteria and can't tell fact from fiction. Do you research. Yes all liberals are bad, all conservatives are good, according to the talk radio fox news talking heads you admire allcav. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. Read a real report that debunks everything you said. https://www.theweek.co.uk/fact-check/98666/fact-check-how-much-does-illegal-immigration-cost-the-us

capedcrusader

Allcav, what I'm wonderin is why all of a sudden you are using the name "Mary"along with your nic? You aren't going to start wanting to know who everyone is so you can make the discussion about personal attacks are you? After all that's what Czeczok did and the former "Buggs Raplin" did. This song and dance is starting to sound very familiar. I certainly hope the Trib is utilizing a good IP checker.

allcav

Liberals need to talk with the border security guards, go to the southern border...and not just in the daytime! ~Mary

oldhomey

Thank you for the link, Physics. Unfortunately, people like A Veteran (of no known military unit) seek out information only as deeply as their right-wing propaganda sites, gloating because it backs up their erroneous preconceptions, never questioning what they read as "fact" no matter how ridiculous it is on its face.

A Veteran

old phony---Just the other day you stated you watch quite a bit of CNN ,well that is where I got most of my facts that I sited.But to be sure I was right in what I stated and all the other sources I checked also were stating the facts I heard at CNN . Morning Joe and his wife corrected a guest when when she tried to infer like the LOON cape that there was not any caravans.Are you also claiming there never was any caravans??If so you must think CNN was lying to you along with all the rest of the left wing press!!!!!!!!BTW when cape sobers up tell him I still think he is an A$$HOLE,you on the other hand are far lower than that!!!!!

oldhomey

Dang, A Veteran (of no known military unit)! I am even far lower than an A$$hole? You cad! Are you accusing me of being a KNEE??? A CALF??? If you are trying to intimate that I am a little toe, by golly, you'll hear from my lawyers!!!

By the way, while I turn on CNN when there is an important breaking international story, that is about it. I don't get much political news from television, except for PBS News Hour. I have never watched Morning Joe in my life, and if you depend on a show like that, being there more for its entertainment value than its news value, that might account for your abysmal knowledge of current events.

Have you, since you bring it up, ever seen me deny there was a caravan? In fact, I don't recall anybody on these boards ever denying there was a caravan. What you have seen is a lot of people accurately debunk Donald Trump's hyping the caravan as being a blood-thirsty, murderous crew filled with thousands terrorists, rapists and criminals coming to overrun the border. And, as you may have noticed but probably didn't, the caravan, a group of thousands of destitute, scared people seeking refuge, arrived at the border without much incident. And Trump suddenly went quiet about it. Not you, though. No sir. You are the fool who wants to keep bringing it up in defense of Trump, seemingly unaware that it actually is egg on our president's face. Good one.

capedcrusader

A Veteran - You ready to take that bet yet? You are getting more like Skeletor Czeczok everyday with the name calling.

A Veteran

cape---you know what my offer is but like all liberal LOONS your head is to far up your a$$ to be able to comprehend .I t must be pathetic to be a liberal LOON....

capedcrusader

Well, even though you are a coward to take the bet you have at least stopped spouting off about it. That's telling ...

A Veteran

cape ---Why keep beating a dead horse or in this case a liberal loon a$$.My bet still stands grow a pair and take it COWARD!!!!!

A Veteran

cape----Looks like a liberal LOON has no answer when they are proven to be a liar ,you are pathetic. as far as the bet I have told you I will take that bet right after you take mine on if a federal judge ruled that Hillary must answer questions under oath about several different things that if she answers truthfully she could go to jail.Man up grow a pair and you will get your bet ---COWARD!!!!!!

martian2

how about it mr Tribune. Had enough of veteran yet? Maybe its time to to upgrade these boards and keep idiots like him out. He/she has nothing of value to say with the constant name calling, and his brash demeanor shows a lack of civility and high grade stupidity. Sad thing is he doesn't even realize it and never will.

capedcrusader

Well, "Mary" or "allcav", just where are those caravans you speak of? Republicans have been pretty quiet about that again... Where in the world are those caravans?

A Veteran

cape -Are you stupid enough to try to make it look like there was not a caravan ,when all the liberal press wrote and talked about nothing else for 6 to8 weeks.Are you really that much of a LOON. It got real quite after Trump got the Mexican government to be responsible for a mess that liberals and the Mexican government allowed to happen.And yes it has been proven that liberals were organizing doing some funding of the caravan.Did you see the news on CNN on friday that the Mexican government is send some of their federal troops to their southern border to stop a reported 15,000 person caravan from crossing into Mexico.If you truly believe there was not a caravan that went to Tijuana and tried to cross seek mental health help or at least quit LYING!!!!

capedcrusader

Speaking of lying, you still want to spread the one about Hillary going to prison? I still have a $100 on the table waiting for you to take the bet. Also, can you ever write anything without calling other people names? Don't just grow a pair, grow up.

martian2

"replace ‘Neville Chamberlain’ with ‘Donald Trump.’” When you get nut cases from the right wing talking heads like Ann Coulter spewing such garbage, it doesn't look good for this country. Appeasement with the democrats or even those moderates in your own party is akin to dealing with Hitler. Never mind the butt kissing Trump does with Putin, or North Korea's tyrant leader, or with the murderous Saudi family. That doesn't compare to compromising with those in your own country to keep the government running. Wouldn't that just be the most awful thing Trump could do. As long as Fox news idiots runs the show for Donald, this country is in for deep trouble, and not just those government workers who are currently working without pay. The 5.7 billion he wants for the wall is just a drop int he bucket, and actual wall from coast to coast will cost ten times that much. But hey who cares, the man who filed for bankruptcy four times needs to prove a point, that he can lead the whole country to bankruptcy without even trying hard.

Rick Czeczok

Speaking of nut cases. Wow!

oldhomey

You are absolutely right for once, Ricky. Trump is beginning to show that he is clinically insane. What is it, the 25th Amendment, that is relevant to this situation?

Rick Czeczok

You follow me around like a little puppy. Now go lay by your dish. Once again if you are going to be on a first name basis don't you think I should know yours? Oh that can't happen as others might find out who you really are. Lot's of skeletons in that closet are there? Or are you like Martin (the old Kingman), afraid of the boogie man coming around. Or Capecruser having his boss figure out who he is. Now back under your rock....

oldhomey

Ricky, you can call me Al. You can call me Sal. You can call me Pal. You can me Ral. Just don't call me at home when I am having dinner. Are you one of those robo callers? Thanks for ordering me to stay close to my dish. I don't want to miss a bite.

Rick Czeczok

Old man I think you have lost what mind you had left. Take your pills like a good little nut case. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

capedcrusader

Hey Czeczok - Why don't you explain what that comment was about? YOU are the one who won't answer questions. A number of them... Perhaps it's you that has skeletons. I think since you just love trolling and calling people names I'm going to start calling you SKELETOR. SKELETOR Czeczok. I like that! When are you going to have the big reveal you kept threatening kingman with?

oldhomey

Whatever mind I once had I lost long ago, Ricky. I am on a strict medication regimen to control my madness, and the pill the doctor says is most important is the one that keeps me from bursting out into insane laughter all the time. Just thought you would like to know.

A Veteran

martain --You resort to your alter ego when you call on the tribune to ban me ,do you not KINKY KINGMAN, also tried that when you was using your other screen name and telling me I had to bow down and do as you said because you was king, but I am sure a coward like you would not do that to my face!!!!!!

capedcrusader

So, "A Veteran", in addition to calling people names you are now threatening people as well. Maybe this isn't for you and you should move on to something else that doesn't affect your blood pressure. I would listen to you and Czeczok if you could back up what you say but both of you never do. Be honest and take a break you are not doing anyone any favors especially yourself.

martian2

there are two paths in life to take. One is to make yourself stronger, smarter, more informed. Or you can take the path of being a bully, try to inflict hurt on others, and make threats thereby hurting yourself. Funny thing is, both paths takes the same amount of work. Too bad so many chose the latter. Its no wonder this country is in such a fix.

capedcrusader

You are not kidding!

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