Saturday, February 16, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said he was building a wall he's not building.

On day 2 of Trump's "emergency" over the record low numbers of illegal crossings at the southern border of the United States, Trump played golf and tweeted. In one of them, he claimed to be "BUILDING THE WALL."

Of course, Trump wasn't literally building the wall at that moment—or doing anything at all. He supposedly had meetings in the afternoon, once the morning's golf was done, but there is reason to believe that the White House lies about the amount of work he does during "executive time."

But more to the point, Trump's administration has not constructed any new walls, fences, or other barriers on the Mexico border—not today, not yesterday, and not for the foreseeable future. The only barrier construction to date is the repair of existing fences.

The budget bill that Trump signed yesterday has funds for 55 miles of new barrier construction, which would be a tiny increase in the total existing barrier, but the "emergency" money that Trump will be taking from military readiness budgets will be tied up in lawsuits through the end of his term, if it's not blocked by Congress.

Again: the U.S.-Mexico border has zero additional miles of "wall," by any definition, since Trump took office.

Trump began his term by privately begging the Mexican president not to contradict him when he said Mexico would pay for the wall, and then almost entirely lost interest in his signature campaign promise before right-wing commentators forced him to recommit to it. As a result of that pressure, he has been desperate to show progress on the "wall," and has settled on a strategy of simply telling supporters that "wall" is being built where none is. He even tried to re-train supporters at a recent campaign rally to chant "finish the wall" instead of "build the wall"—although once again, there is no new wall to "finish."

If the intent is to placate his political base, it doesn't seem to be working. Ultraconservative commentator Ann Coulter, a hard-line anti-immigrant voice, said this week that Trump was an "idiot" who was simply "scamming the stupidest people in his base."

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents shouldn't say they've done things they haven't done.