Via Mediaite, does anyone in media occupy a niche as weird as Shep’s? Imagine a state-run television network that gave the opposition an hour of “equal time” every day for no particular reason. It’s like Russian TV cutting to a NATO spokesman daily at 3 p.m. to challenge Putin’s talking points about Europe. He spent yesterday evening fact-checking Trump’s immigration speech on air — in Hannity’s timeslot, for cripes sake.
I’m convinced no one in America enjoys their job as much as he does.
Even for Shep, though, today’s performance went too far. His point about Trump breaking his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall is fair enough but to listen to him here you would think congressional Republicans are fully onboard with Pelosi’s plan to re-open the government incrementally by funding individual agencies. A few are, but only a very few — a handful in the Senate and barely more than a handful in the House, for now. There’s nothing remotely like a bipartisan revolt in Congress against the president’s recalcitrance. The way Smith frames Pelosi’s plan is also only half the story. She’s forcing these incremental votes not because she’s some earnest problem-solver but because she’s hoping to score points on Republicans by forcing them to vote no over and over on re-opening individual agencies. It’s a partisan ploy.
And look. You can believe, like I do, that the standoff was silly and cynical and doomed to fail from day one without thinking that Democrats are wholly in the right, which is what you’d come away thinking listening to Shep. The fact remains that $5 billion is a pittance by federal spending standards and the country could certainly do more to secure its southern border. Trump campaigned on this issue extensively and won the election, albeit with the caveat Shep notes that Mexico, not U.S. taxpayers, was supposed to be footing the bill. Democrats have no objection to the wall on the merits that isn’t ultimately an objection to the idea of borders writ large. They’re blocking Trump on this at bottom for no grander reason than to spite him, because they know he wants this badly. Is spite over budgetary spare change a good enough reason to maintain a shutdown for nearly three weeks, with federal workers forced to scrounge to make rent in the meantime? That question isn’t asked here.
Anyway, it’s almost over:
NEW: White House officials are discussing a scenario in which Trump declares a national emergency to fund a border wall and agrees to sign a spending bill without wall funds. "It will come to this," says one WH official. "The question is when." https://t.co/KGVVsvNF0V
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) January 9, 2019
As I write this at 6 p.m. ET, I haven’t seen a single Republican senator come out strongly in favor of Trump declaring an emergency, even though it would do them the great favor of re-opening the government and then excusing them from further participation in the big Trump/Democrat brawl over the wall. Ted Cruz punted when asked about it, saying he’d need to study the proposal; Trump’s buddy Lindsey Graham said it’s “not my preferred route” and added that “I don’t know legally if you can do that.” You might think, “Of course they dislike the idea of an executive decree. It would diminish their power as senators by removing Congress from the policy equation here.” But Congress typically loves when the president seizes power from them to implement a risky policy. With a few exceptions, that’s the story of American military interventions since World War II. Senators don’t want to have to take a formal position on some foreign adventure that the president’s pushing if they can avoid it; if they oppose it and it succeeds they look like unpatriotic weaklings and if they support it and it goes bad they look like jingoists who sent young Americans to die for nothing. Better that the president just do what he wants to do without their input. Same here with the shutdown.
Exit question via Philip Klein: Why is that righties care so much about having a fighter as a president when it’s winning, not fighting, that ultimately matters? Trump could have gotten the wall funded by fighting 1/100th as hard as he is right now if he had made this an issue when Republicans controlled Congress.