Wednesday, January 23, 2019

BTRTN: Time For Republicans to Build a Tunnel Under Trump's Wall

The Democratic and Republican positions on the wall and the shutdown seem utterly intractable, but Steve sees a light at the end of a tunnel.

Donald Trump is an inverted Midas: everything he touches turns to crap. 

It can be banal. Like inviting the NCAA College Football Champions to the White House and demeaning their stature by serving them heaping piles of junk food. 

It can be significant. A good example here would be the reputation of the United States of America.

It can be the routine ruination of infirm souls who stray into his orbit. Michael Cohen, Sean Spicer, Rudy Giuliani… the full list would take years. As we watch the loopy, bug-eyed Giuliani shill for the President, we may forget that he was selected Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 2001, with the cover story’s headline trumpeting New York’s Mayor as a “Tower of Strength.” Now he has all the tensile might of Gumby on ice skates.

Rudy has spent too much time in the radioactive zone that emanates from Donald Trump’s odd orange glow, and the effect on his brain, spine, and impulse control has been catastrophic. Giuliani seems to have found renewed zest for life in pimping for Trump, hurling himself into the media maelstrom of each new controversy, determined to justify Trump’s actions while assiduously eschewing logic or factual support. Rudy fills one hole by digging another, impervious to the possibility that his explanations are more damaging than the original allegation. 

At this point, you’d expect that if rumors were to emerge that Mueller’s team actually has a copy of a “golden showers” video tape that Christopher Steel alleged to exist in his famous “dossier,” Rudy would careen down to CNN headquarters and get into a high testosterone shouting match with Chris Cuomo, ranting, “Now, Chris, I have not seen the tape, but heaven’s sake, Chris, watching a Russian prostitute urinate on your bed is not a crime! It’s not collusion, Chris! And collusion isn’t even a crime, Chris! So if some Russian prostitute urinated on some bed in Moscow, Chris, I can’t imagine why it is even relevant to anything at all!” 

Such an exchange would of course only serve to convince America that the tape must exist. It must be real. Hiring Rudy Giuliani for damage control is like vacuuming your carpet with a fertilizer spreader. 

And yet, somehow, through it all, Rudy Giuliani has now somehow emerged as the most visible spokesperson for the Party of Trump, other than the Big Stupid Orange himself. Mitch McConnell has opted to spend the duration of the shutdown in the witness protection program, and we all miss Sarah Huckabee Sanders performing her “Ursula the Sea Witch” impression at the now once-a-month daily White House press briefings. When did she disappear, and why?

Most Republicans are content to parrot White House talking points about the shutdown and the Mueller probe, hoping their commentary is as limp and non-controversial as ranch dressing, all to the goal of keeping them out of the A bloc.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi isn’t even breaking a sweat to flummox the Lummox-in-Chief. For starters, she realizes that Trump’s tiny head is in an internecine vise within his party, and she is letting those competing forces do her heavy lifting. Trump cannot retreat from his $5.7 billion demand for a border wall without triggering a ghostly visitation from the terrifying Coultergeist, the right wing fanatics who will deal Trump a full-on Lorena Bobbitt if he flinches. Trump has now learned that his fallback plan – to declare a national emergency in order to commandeer funds for his wall from other government budget lines – scared the crap out of the Freedom Caucus, whose members quickly realized that establishing such a precedent could embolden a future Democratic President to declare a national emergency for sweeping action on climate change.  Finally, Trump’s belief that he can wait out the Democrats on the shutdown is perilously flawed, as public opinion is overwhelmingly placing the blame for the shutdown on Trump.

Most significant, though, are two simple facts. The shutdown is an ongoing saga, and it is being felt very significantly by people in Trump’s base.

Consider the first point: as horrific as most of Trump’s outrages have been, they have been episodic rather than protracted events, here today, and largely gone tomorrow. Whether it was “shithole countries,” “blame on both sides,” or the appeasement in Helsinki, Trump’s disasters do not linger for days and weeks. They are usually blown off the front pages by the fresh outrages of the next news cycle, often of Trump’s own creation and many seemingly concocted for the very purpose of alleviating yesterday’s rotting stench. 

The shutdown is different. Its impact is sustained and cumulative.  It is the story that keeps coming back, night after night. 

This, in turn, is where the second fact comes into play. In the past, Trump has displayed a savvy for making policy decisions that wreak havoc in blue states while padding pockets in Red States. For example, his tax plan famously gutted real estates tax benefits which hurt property values in the Northeast. It appears, however, that no such Machiavellian forethought was given to the impact that a government shutdown would have. Now, Trump is finding that four of the ten states most adversely affected by the shutdown are traditional red states like West Virginia, Mississippi, Arizona, and Alabama.

It’s one thing to live in West Virginia and scream lustily as the candidate promises to build a wall thousands of miles away that Mexico will pay for. Quite another to watch that nice young family down the street struggle to pay bills and feed their children because the government paychecks have been cut off.

Thirty-three days into this self-inflicted quagmire, Trump has allowed the wet concrete around his ankles to harden into unmovable blocks. There appears to be no way out. The Democrats won’t give him a wall. Ann Coulter won’t let him survive without one. The “national emergency” Hail Mary is dead. The public blames him for the shutdown. And every day it drags on, it drags Trump down some, and Republicans with him.

Nancy Pelosi is just standing back and allowing the Republicans to absorb the increasingly uncomfortable data that shows where the public stands on the blame game. Cancelling the State of the Union? Just a shrewd move by a real pro: Pelosi just wanted to deny Trump the opportunity to go on network television and blame the Democrats for his shutdown. She is five moves ahead before Trump has tuned into his morning strategy download from Fox and Friends.

If this is all just a game of chicken, Nancy Pelosi does not look particularly scared.

It all raises a very simple and relevant question for Republicans: when you find yourself stuck behind a gigantic wall, what do you do?

Do you sit there and just hope it goes away?

Do you hope somebody else comes and removes it?

Or do you just do nothing, and allow it to defeat you?

United States Border Patrol officials will give you an answer.

People in the former East Berlin will give you a similar one.

People who need to get through a wall find a way.

Smuggling, ladders, helicopters, chisels, hammers, passion, commitment, and tunnels.

Hey, Republicans… perhaps it is time for Congressional Republicans to stop parroting the talking points of a White House that is now living in a permanent state of denial. Time for Republicans to rethink going back to the bar for another glass of Kool-Aid.

No, don’t worry… I am not asking you to take the incredible risk of publicly breaking with your President and inviting a right wing whack-job to primary you.

No, I am suggesting something different.

Go underground.

Beat the wall by building a tunnel.

Sneak over and meet with Democrats.

Tell them you need to figure out how to extricate the President from the dead-end end-game that is endangering the economic viability and health of hundreds of thousands of government workers and the secondary businesses that depend on them.

Horse-trade with them. Give them something they want and then, yes, beg for something you need. Perhaps you phrase it as begging for something the country needs.

Do what legislators are supposed to do.

Make a deal.

Have McConnell bring it to the President, gift wrapped with the absolute certainty of a veto-override.

Then tell McConnell to instruct the President to go ahead and veto it, so he can save face and claim that he never caved in.

Override the veto. You will make Trump a happy man. It will re-open the government, give Trump someone to blame for the lack of wall funding, and keep him in Ann Coulter's good graces. Trust me: Trump would dramatically prefer the embarrassment of the veto override to an humiliating capitulation of Nancy Pelosi. He'd rather take friendly fire.

It will work. More important, it will get the government working again. 

It might even change your outlook on your job. If you encounter more stupid walls from this president, you'll know what to do.

Build more tunnels.

Get the Congress working again.  The way it is supposed to. 

Make deals. 

Because you know what, Republicans?

We understand that you are terrified of taking public stands against Trump. But we also have heard far, far too many anecdotal stories of Republicans privately venting their conviction that the President is an ignorant, childish, boorish, incompetent, and utterly self-centered child.


Form an underground. Do your dirty work out of sight.

Build some tunnels.

They can be incredibly effective when you have to get through a big, stupid wall. 

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