The evil vindictiveness of what passes for Donald Trump’s mind has no better example than the revelation today that the president is considering declaring an unjustified national emergency to bypass the sole constitutional authority of Congress to allocate government funding while continuing to keep government agencies shutdown.
According to an article on Politico, White House officials have already told congressional Republicans that such a declaration would not indicate that the end of Trump’s tantrum-induced refusal to sign the bills reopening the shuttered federal agencies is near.
Politico cites three sources that claim that the conversations about the ties between any declaration of a national emergency by the president and the end of the shutdown were held during Trump’s combination photo op/propaganda session at the border in McAllen, Texas today.
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While some political observers believed that if Trump were to declare an emergency to build his coveted wall it would offer both Democrats and Republicans a face-saving way to end the shutdown with minimal political damage to either side’s reputation with their bases.
However, Trump’s animosity towards the Democrats has grown so great that the president now seems to want to deny them any win in the situation whatsoever. He’s also reportedly worried that without any concessions from the Democrats at this stage of the standoff, legal challenges to the emergency declaration will leave him with no money for the border wall and hand his opposition a major victory.
“He could say, ‘Look, I’m going to get what I want and then I’m still going to screw you,’” a former White House official told Politico, anticipating Trump’s political strategy. “It’s making Democrats feel pain instead of declaring a national emergency, opening the government up, and making it so they don’t have to give anything,” the former official added.
The president has threatened to “probably” use his executive powers to build a border wall if Democrats continue to refuse to authorize funding for the project, but said today that no decision was immediately expected, undercutting his own argument that the situation at the border constitutes an emergency.
If Trump does indeed decide to declare a national emergency and then still refuses to reopen the government, he risks not only the ire of hundreds of thousands of government workers who will remain without a reliable source of income for their basic necessities, but also the Republican members of Congress who will see the move as a political suicide and would need to decide whether they should continue to act like lemmings in their support for the president or to refuse to follow Trump’s Pied Piper act into oblivion.
Federal workers and contractors are already feeling extreme financial pain of the hostage situation the president has put them in while the administration is caught up in debates about the least politically destructive method of ending the standoff.
“We’re trying to figure out what the best of the bad choices are,” said a Republican close to the White House. “And the best of the bad right now is to keep fighting this fight, but to refocus the messaging onto our playing field.”
Or in other words, keep fighting a propaganda war by adding more manure to the already considerable pile and hope that public sentiment — already trending against Trump with 55% of the electorate disapproving his handling of the shutdown fiasco — eventually starts to swing his way.
With the shutdown set to become the longest in the nation’s history as of tomorrow, time is running out for the President to resolve the crisis before the economic damage it has created grows so large that it will hurt the economic growth that he inherited from the Obama administration and loves to brag about as his own achievement.
In the end, it’s obvious that the only solution that will work for Trump is the one that stokes his inflated ego to even greater levels and hands him the appearance of a victory. He’s happy to drag the entire Republican party down the drain with him if he has to. The real question is whether the Republicans will jump ship before they all drown in a flood of political retribution.
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Original reporting by Gabby Orr at Politico.