Chuck and Nancy dismantled Donald Trump at the White House today. Trump declared, ‘If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.’ Poll after poll has shown that government shutdowns backfire with the public. Trump should have shut up about a shutdown. But Trump, baited by Schumer, couldn’t resist posturing as Mr Big, the protector of the frontier who will singlehandedly stop drugs and felons from entering the US on the southern border, if he can only secure $5 billion to build a wall.
The meeting served as an augury of what likely awaits Trump over the next two years. Vice President Mike Pence was a study in silence as he watched his boss flameout. Pelosi calmly rebutted Trump, while Schumer played the heavy. The duo whipsawed Trump whose wrath turned pustular by the close of the meeting. Later, Pelosi even questioned Trump’s virility: ‘It’s like a manhood thing for him,’ Pelosi apparently explained to Democratic lawmakers when she returned to the Capitol. ‘As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing.’
Immigration is not a winning issue for Trump. According to David M. Drucker in the Washington Examiner, ‘Republican operatives in the 2018 trenches, now formulating battle plans for the next election, are backing the suburban Republicans blaming Trump for their ejection from Congress. In reviewing polling and other data, they discovered that the president’s provocative immigration rhetoric was more damaging to the House GOP during the final seven to 10 days than they realized at the time. Trump hammered on the migrant caravan as he barnstormed red states to stump for Republican Senate candidates in the homestretch while also raising the specter of eliminating birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants. The president’s near-singular focus on those issues repelled Hispanics, independents and soft Republicans, turning a race for House control that leaned Democratic into a late-breaking GOP bloodbath.’ The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, ‘one hopes that if this does turn into a serious and protracted standoff, Democrats will keep in mind that Republicans are privately concluding that Trump’s closing hate message was deeply toxic for them.’
Will Trump change course? Not a chance. His bluff and bombast during today’s White House public meeting, which he apparently duplicated when he spoke privately with Pelosi and Schumer, suggests that he himself is impervious to accepting evidence that might contradicts his misleading slogans. This is why the meeting was so treacherous for Trump; it exemplifies his abysmal managerial skills. Right from the beginning, the pow wow went off the rails. Indeed, it was of a piece with his humiliation at the hands of Pence flunky Nick Ayers, who refused to accept the chief of staff position a few days ago, leaving Trump to scramble for a successor to John Kelly. As he faces special counsel Robert Mueller and a welter of congressional investigations, Trump is looking increasingly marooned in a White House under siege.