It’s as if President Donald Trump’s humiliation over the government shutdown and his failed push to honour his core campaign promise never happened.
“Does anybody really think I won’t build the WALL? Done more in first two years than any President! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!,” Trump tweeted on Sunday night, hitting back at the overwhelming media consensus that he had been outplayed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.Going forward, he would have to adopt a fundamental change of approach if he is to wring money for his border wall from Congress and revive a presidency badly damaged by his loss to Democrats in the first clash of the new era of divided government.
But any new strategy will expose the President to significant political risks and require an ability to work the levers of power in Washington that Trump was unable to show even when the GOP had a monopoly on congressional power.
And most dauntingly for the President, a genuine deal with Democrats would require concessions that would force him to do something he’s never dared to do: risk angering his ultra-loyal political base.The unpleasant reality now facing Trump, and the unchanged political dynamics that provoked the shutdown, are why Washington appears headed for a second one — or a bid by Trump to short circuit Congress by using executive power to build the wall that could cause a constitutional firestorm.
The President’s dilemmas will play out during a three-week short-term funding truce reached Friday to end a shutdown that left 800,000 government workers without multiple paychecks on-time and the nation’s federal infrastructure in chaos.
Negotiations will take place between a panel of Republicans and Democrats from the House and the Senate in a search for a border security plan that everyone can sign off on.
But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Sunday, the President held out little hope the talks would work.
“I personally think it’s less than 50-50, but you have a lot of very good people on that board,” he said, adding he doubted he would water down his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding.’Fair deal’ or new shutdown
Trump warned on Friday that if he didn’t get a “fair deal” on money for a wall that Democrats vehemently oppose by February 15, government would close again or he’d invoke emergency powers to build it.
Trump’s refusal, so far, to moderate his position does not take into account damage to his political standing in a shutdown that now looks like a grave miscalculation.
The impasse aggravated moderate voters and damaged his poll numbers, as well as united and emboldened Democrats. Trump’s climbdown threatened his standing among his grass roots army for whom his wall is an almost mystical rallying cause.
So a second shutdown could turn into an even bigger disaster for Trump.
For one thing, Capitol Hill Republicans who were frustrated with his strategy over the last month might think twice about following the President into another political dead end.
“I don’t know how any member of the administration or of Congress could think that a shutdown was a worthy pursuit. It never is,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
And Pelosi, basking in her victory, seems even less open to offering Trump the kind of congressional compromise that could allow him to say he got money for the wall and for Democrats to argue they had funded border security.
“Have I not been clear on a wall?” the Speaker asked on Friday.