Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He celebrated 197 miles of border wall he hasn't built.

Trump traveled to Arizona today for campaign events in a state he now desperately needs to win. The official reason for the trip, though, was to deliver remarks on "the Commemoration of the 200th Mile of New Border Wall" on the Mexican border—which puts the travel costs on the taxpayers rather than the Trump campaign.

Three and a half years into the Trump administration, the fenced portion of the U.S.-Mexico border is three miles longer—not 200. The rest has been repairs or renovations to existing barriers.

Those three miles, though, are in Trump's signature style. At his insistence, the easily-climbed bollard fence is painted black, so that it will retain heat in the summer. (This will increase the total cost of border fencing by $500 million or more.) 

Other issues have arisen with Trump's "big, beautiful" fence. Large sections of it will require floodgates to be kept wide open for much of the year. Fences put up in the remote areas favored by drug smugglers, furthest from active patrols, are easily destroyed by household tools—or, of course, ladders.

Immigration was Trump's signature issue in 2016, even though he has a long history of hiring immigrants legally and illegally. He promised that Mexico would pay for it, although immediately after taking office he begged the Mexican president not to publicly contradict him on this. American taxpayers have picked up the bill instead. 

But at this point it's not clear why Trump thinks Americans still see immigration as a pressing issue. Only 2% of Americans cited immigration as the biggest problem facing the country in a recent Gallup poll. At the top of that poll of the things that Americans were most worried about were economic issues (19%), poor leadership in government (21%), the coronavirus response (20%), and racism (19%). 

How is this a problem?

  • Presidents who accomplish things people would actually be impressed by don't need to embellish.
  • It's wrong to take credit for things you didn't do.