He is not, not, not. I’ve made that case at length elsewhere but let me add a few points.
1. Contra Coulter, Trump’s probably the only major player in the standoff who isn’t dead, dead, dead if he’s the first to extend an olive branch. McConnell is facing reelection in a red state next year and is always viewed suspiciously by the base notwithstanding his work on judicial confirmations. If he buckles and destroys Trump’s leverage he may face a populist revolt in Kentucky. Schumer is viewed similarly suspiciously by the left, a weak leader who won’t fight fight fight and is always a bit too eager to make a deal. He’s not popular enough to get away with caving. Pelosi is idolized by Democrats as a strong leader who got ObamaCare through when other liberals were wavering but she just got finished with fending off criticism that she’s an electoral liability for the party who’s blocking the next generation from leadership posts. If she caves, her image will be shattered and Democratic voters will wonder whether they should have pushed harder for a new Speaker when they had the chance.
Of the four, only Trump enjoys such cultish popularity with supporters that they’ll forgive him anything he does, particularly after he spends six months on the trail next year reminding them of all his accomplishments — great economy, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, withdrawal from unwinnable wars, tax cuts, deregulation. Voters who like him will look for reasons to support him despite their misgivings and occasional disappointment, and he’ll offer them plenty of reasons. Ann Coulter is a one-issue voter. Hardly anyone else is.
2. Coulter seems to take heart from a poll showing support for stronger borders after Trump’s Oval Office speech. That’s peculiar because the polling lately has been consistently bad for him on balance. See for yourself what the trendline looks like today in RCP’s job-approval tracker. He’s been stuck at 43 percent for days even in the most pro-Trump national poll, Rasmussen. And it gets worse:
Trump's net approval rating has now declined from -10.5 to -14.5 over the course of the shutdown. It's not an enormous shift but it's starting to add up: a bit more than a point of net approval lost per week. https://t.co/j7XEedEnAf pic.twitter.com/iU7rfc39mb
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 16, 2019
Gallup: Trump job approval falls six net points to 37-59, his worst approval since mid-February 2018.
Every poll is showing a drop in Trump's approval since the shutdown began. pic.twitter.com/bb6zP8WvBB
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) January 16, 2019
It’s true that some polling shows an increase in support for the wall or an uptick in people agreeing that there’s a crisis at the border. But even those polls carry more discouraging signs for Trump than encouraging, with most Americans blaming him for the standoff. The sort of sharp popular groundswell in favor of him and the wall that might give Schumer and Pelosi pause just isn’t there. On the contrary, CNN’s most recent poll found Trump’s approval sliding into negative territory even among whites without a college degree, his most loyal demographic. If some working-class whites come away from all this believing that Trump is simply too erratic and inclined to foolish brinksmanship with federal services to be trusted with another term, that’s more likely to render him dead, dead, dead next year than disappointing a few populist righties who’ll end up talking themselves into voting for him even if he caves.
3. Waving off the burden to federal workers in missing a payday or two on grounds that they’ll get their back pay eventually, whenever that might be, as Coulter does here is a bad look for a supposedly working-class party. A lot of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Some workers are selling belongings to make rent, some are applying for emergency loans. Many are being asked to come into work despite the lack of pay. If they were laid off they could at least focus on finding a new job elsewhere; at the moment they’re in limbo. Let’s pretend to sympathize with the hardship caused by a standoff that could have been avoided if Trump had made his stand on this issue six months ago, with a Republican Congress in power.
One last thing. The shutdown isn’t causing much political pain because there’s been no highly visible example of bad repercussions. If some such example were to occur, like God forbid a bomb going off somewhere while DHS isn’t running at full throttle, there will be political consequences for that and they won’t be to Pelosi. That’s the big-picture risk in letting this go on indefinitely. Exit quotation via Dem Rep. Jackie Speier, who knows that nothing irritates Trump more than being dismissed as a puppet of one of his advisors: “Dear @AnnCoulter — Please tell the President it’s OK to open up the government.”