Trump claimed there’d be a wall. There isn’t one yet. What can account for this unlikely state of affairs?
After the recent calamities in Charlottesville and in his own White House, President Donald Trump doubled and tripled down on his promises to build a wall that will one day most definitely exist. According to the Times:
President Trump issued an extraordinary challenge to his own party late Tuesday, threatening to shut down the government in a matter of weeks if Congress did not fund a wall on the southern border that was a signature promise of his campaign for the White House. Mr. Trump followed up on that threat on Wednesday by going after a key Republican senator on Twitter who has been skeptical of building a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is also one of two Republican senators up for re-election next year in a swing state, and the president has put his finger on the scale toward a primary challenger, Kelli Ward.
Trump, who has not been on the best of terms with Congressional Republicans—or any Republicans, for that matter—warned the adults inside the Beltway that would get upset if the tremendous, no-kidding, honest-to-God wall was not built. The stern finger shaking by the President is widely seen as a tactic to cover up the embarrassing loss of credibility and political capital that followed the White House’s failure to get health care reform—or any kind of concrete accomplishment—through the halls of the federal legislature. The Times again:
Tuesday’s admonition sharpened a suggestion that Mr. Trump made early this year, in the wake of a budget agreement he grudgingly accepted even though it omitted money for the wall, that the United States needed “a good ‘shutdown’” this fall to force a partisan confrontation over federal spending. His campaign promise stressed that Mexico would pay for the border barrier, but that part of the promise seems to have dropped away. Hard-line conservative nationalists such as Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist ousted from the White House last week, have counseled the president to take a hard line on wall funding to buck up his political base after the embarrassing defeat of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Post stated that Trump’s brash public noise-production was likely to disrupt the “sensitive negotiations” on Capitol Hill. The President was frustrated; that was clear to all watchers. A sensitive man, the President is of subtle temperament. The beautiful perfect wall, which is certainly not an idle daydream pressed into rhetorical service as a dog whistle, seems to be suffering from the stifling regulations of the reality. Trump, with a subtle, careful touch rivaled only by the gentlest warlords of the Bronze Age, conveyed his subtle threat to the rest of the government.
During a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Trump leveled his latest threat about blocking new government funding if it doesn’t include money to start building a new barrier along the Mexico border. “Build that wall,” he said. “Now, the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
In response, the sometime-opposition party, the Democrats responded to the President:
Congressional Democrats are holding their ground in opposing Trump’s proposal. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) repeated their objections to funding a wall and argued that Trump would be responsible if the government shuts down over the impasse. “If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything,” Schumer said in a statement.
As of this writing, the wall had yet to be built—and will likely remain so.