President Donald Trump lost a government shutdown battle before it even started on Tuesday by literally claiming that he’d be “proud” to shut it down, and conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin explained why it’s such a disaster for Republicans.
During a sit down discussion with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in front of a room full of cameras and the press, Trump ranted about his proposed border wall and repeatedly threatened to shut the government down if he doesn’t get his way.
His temper tantrum has now been seen by millions of Americans, and all of those Americans now know that Trump is the one who wants a shutdown, not the Democrats.
As Americans prepare for Christmas, the last thing they need is a shutdown that will put the Post Office out of action ahead of the busiest holiday of the year.
But Trump opened his mouth and made it clear that Republicans will be the ones to blame for any shutdown that occurs.
“One way or the other it’s going to get built,” Trump said. “I’d like not to see a government closing, a shutdown. But the wall is a very important thing to us. If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other … I will shut down the government.”
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security,” Trump would go on to directly tell Schumer.
It was an embarrassing defeat for Trump by two seasoned lawmakers, who immediately seized upon the high ground Trump gave away for free during the meeting, which Democrats had earlier insisted be a private meeting. At his own peril, Trump ignored them.
“The bottom line is simple,” Schumer told the media later on. “The president made clear that he wants a shutdown. His position, if he sticks to his position for a $5 billion wall, he will get no wall and he will get a shutdown. The bottom line is very, very simple. That is, we want border security. We offered him border security. But Americans know that the wall, not paid for by Mexico anymore is not the way to border security. This Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum he seems to throw will not get him his wall and it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause a shutdown, he admitted he wanted a shutdown. It’s hard to believe he would want that.”
But Trump said it, therefore, it’s all on him and his party, which is not something Republicans are very happy about because they know what it’s like to be blamed for a shutdown. After all, it happened in 2013 when Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged House Republicans to shut the government down over Obamacare.
In a column for The Washington Post Rubin explained how Trump royally screwed Republicans over.
“The first rule of shutdown fights is never say you are for a shutdown,” she began. “Voters invariably oppose this kind of stunt and see it as evidence of incompetence and unnecessary rancor by the governing party. In short, since Republicans control everything and are likely to be blamed for shuttering the government, the last thing President Trump wants to do is say he is for a shutdown. And that’s exactly what he said Tuesday, no doubt to the joy of Democrats who are trying to convince Americans the GOP is unfit to govern.”
Indeed, Republicans control both the House and the Senate until January when a new session of Congress begins, and Trump is president, at least until Special Counsel Robert Mueller comes knocking at his door with more damning evidence.
There’s absolutely no excuse for a government shutdown under one-party rule. Senate Republicans must compromise with Democrats and Trump must accept that compromise. But declaring that he wants a government shutdown makes it much for difficult for Republicans to cross the aisle because Democrats now not only smell blood in the water, they can taste it.
“It was an extraordinary moment when Trump not only lost the high ground as president but made Democrats look like the grown-ups,” Rubin continued, going on to point out that Democrats now have a very damning video they can play on a loop for the next two years.
“The video of him declaring his desire to shut down the government will be played over and over again should he get his wish,” she concluded. “Good luck convincing the American people that the Democrats, who control nothing and advocated keeping the government open, are at fault.”
In short, Trump committed political suicide by telling the American people that he’s to blame for a government shutdown.
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