Saturday, January 12, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He insisted that he has a plan.

On the day that Trump set a record for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, he went to Twitter to insist that he did have a plan. 
I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is “chaotic, there does not seem to be a strategy for this Shutdown. There is no plan.” The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there’s almost nobody in the W.H. but me, and......I do have a plan on the Shutdown. But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!

Trump didn't say whether his "plan" involved actually ending the shutdown, which he recently threatened to keep going for "months or even years."

In fact, Trump didn't say what his plan was at all, a move which has some historical precedent. Richard Nixon campaigned for president in 1968 by circulating rumors that he had a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. (He didn't, and more than 21,000 Americans died in the war during his presidency.)

Many observers expect that Trump will declare a national emergency, claiming that this gives him the power to ignore appropriations bills and use disaster relief money for the border wall instead. This would be a face-saving gesture: the shutdown would end, Trump could declare victory, and when the courts overturned any attempt to bypass the spending bills he'd signed, he could try to gain political traction by attacking the courts. (Trump has already refused to accept any situation where he appeared to be giving anything up, telling his Democratic counterparts that he couldn't afford to "look foolish.")

However, there are other political reasons that Trump may need the shutdown to stay the top story of the day, making predictions about when or how he'll capitulate difficult.

Why does this matter?

  • People with plans to avoid bad things usually put them into action before setting a record for bad things happening.
  • It's wrong to value your personal pride over the safety and well-being of an entire country. 
  • Generally speaking, if Richard Nixon is the only historical precedent for what a president does, then what the president is doing is a bad idea.
  • The FBI having cause to investigate a sitting president as part of a counter-intelligence operation is arguably the worst thing that has ever happened to the presidency.