Saturday, May 5, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made an incomprehensible threat.

Appearing today in Cleveland, Trump had this to say: "We may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don't."

The general subject of that portion of Trump's rambling, unscripted remarks was immigration, but what Trump meant was difficult to say, and news reports reached two different yet equally absurd interpretations.

Some believed that Trump was threatening to completely close the United States' borders. Of course, Trump has no legal authority to do anything of the sort, but the economic and diplomatic consequences of even trying would be almost unimaginable. Even the threat of much smaller-scale restrictions brings serious economic effects. 

Others interpreted it as a threat to shutdown the federal government unless Congress provides the umpteen billion dollars needed for his border wall. This, at least, has plenty of precedent--Trump has spoken fondly of government shutdowns in the past, although he's less fond of taking responsibility for them when they actually happen. 

White House spokespersons--presumably also in the dark about what, if anything, Trump meant--have not yet responded to requests for comment.

What's the problem here?

  • It's bad if nobody can tell what a president is saying.
  • It's very bad if all the possible interpretations are either insane or stupid.