If this were any other host, even on Fox, you could shrug it off as conjecture. Trump *has* been willing to negotiate on amnesty in the past, after all. A year ago he floated full funding for the wall, i.e. $25 billion, in exchange for a path to citizenship for DREAMers. His pal Lindsey Graham has been pushing some sort of DREAM-for-wall deal all week. It’s fair to speculate that the president’s open to it.
But Hannity’s not any host. He’s Trump’s phone-chat buddy, his “shadow chief of staff.” He knows the president watches his show every night and he knows that people who watch the president watch his show for clues about what Trump is thinking. I can’t believe he would propose something like this, knowing how delicate the politics of this issue are among Fox viewers, without clearing it with Trump first — or being asked to do so by Trump himself. Neither can NYT reporter Maggie Haberman:
“There’s not much indication the president would actually support [the idea], but I don’t think it’s an accident Sean Hannity said that,” Haberman said. “Sean Hannity is saying something that the president at least wants to float out there and see what will come back, but again, Democrats are not in the mood for that deal.”
Is that what the clip below is — a trial balloon, to see if Coulterites will pitch a fit at the suggestion and/or if it’ll spark any interest among Democrats? Or has Trump been convinced by Graham that the only way out of this mess is a DREAM-for-wall compromise and he’s tapped Hannity to start massaging his audience about it? His problem, as Haberman says, is that Democrats reeeeeeeeally don’t want give him any wall money. For anything. Full citizenship for DREAMers would tempt them, but even then they’re not going to agree to $25 billion. They might give him $5 billion. In which case, good luck to Trump in trying to convince border hawks that a deal in which he got 20 percent of what he was asking for last year in return for DREAM is somehow a good deal.
He may have no choice but to start looking for a way out now, though. Some centrist Republicans in Congress are getting nervous:
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough reelection in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall…
“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” he said.
Gardner won his Senate race by less than two points in 2014; two years later, his home state was the rare purple enclave that went to Hillary; now he’s facing reelection in 2020, with Trump at the top of the ballot. He’ll be Democrats’ top target in the coming election cycle. If anyone’s going to fill the “maverick” role in the new Senate by going his own way, it’s him. Susan Collins is also facing a tough race and has already shored up her right flank with her crucial vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, so she can afford to break with Trump on some big votes too. Murkowski is Murkowski. And lord only knows what Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney will do, especially if the shutdown drags on another week and workers at agencies like TSA start getting restless over not getting paid. There’s no critical mass of centrist Republicans in the Senate who’ll help Schumer defeat a right-wing filibuster, but that’s not the point. The point is that this is a messaging war, and the more Republicans defect to vote with Democrats, the harder it is for the GOP to blame the stalemate on Democrats. A few House Republicans voted with Pelosi yesterday to reopen the government without wall funding, now here’s Gardner ready to side with Schumer in the Senate. You can understand why Hannity, and Trump, are eager for negotiations.
I wonder when Democrats will start pushing this talking point, just to twist the knife:
Wow. @NPRJoel reports on what it means that E-Verify is down due to the shutdown. It lets employers check if a job candidate is in the US illegally. One lawyer says the US had an “electronic wall” against illegal immigration and took it down.
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) January 3, 2019
Exit question via Josh Barro: Is there any scenario in which the shutdown drags on for so long, with the politics becoming so poisonous, that Republicans in Congress not only join with Dems to pass a clean-ish spending bill that ends it but then vote to override a Trump veto if he tries to block the bill? That would require two-thirds of both houses; you’d need fully 20 Republican senators to flip. I can’t imagine them doing it as it would be viewed by Trump’s base as the ultimate establishment betrayal, in which a populist hero who fought to protect the country was stabbed in the back by treacherous RINOs. But Barro’s imagining a situation in which the shutdown drags on for, say, another three weeks, the feds miss a second pay period, and furious TSA agents decide they’re not slaves and choose to walk off the job in protest. Air traffic would be paralyzed. And of course Trump will be blamed for it by most voters, because that’s what happens to presidents when major disruptions occur on their watch. At some hypothetical point congressional Republicans would have more to fear politically from swing voters than from Trump’s base and would act accordingly. I just … don’t know what that point would be. Swing voters have short memories. And swing voters aren’t going to make it their life’s mission to primary you in 2020.