For my once-in-a-while dabble in national politics, I’d like to offer a point related to a Los Angeles Times column that appeared in the Fall River Herald:
When Washington braces for a potential government shutdown, the usual ritual is that Republicans and Democrats will posture over who will get blamed.
President Donald Trump, however, made it clear Tuesday morning that he will be the one shutting down the government if Congress doesn’t provide money for the bigger, more expansive wall he has promised to build along the southern U.S. border.
Of course, we have to acknowledge that Donald Trump appears to make this sort of decision off the cuff, and it isn’t (let’s just say) at all clear that it’s part of some master strategy. But, you know, these moves — when he blows up the etiquette of Washington — sometimes work, and not only his base, but also many conservatives outside his base, like that he’s dispensing with the illusions.
The news media would have made sure that President Trump owned a shutdown anyway. In the column quoted above, Jon Healey insists that previous shutdowns had to do with “big, important issues,” like the Dreamers and Obamacare. One can dispute that Dreamers (certainly) were any more objectively important than a wall, but their issue was certainly more important to the mainstream media, which worked diligently to blame the shutdown on Congressional Republicans, rather than President Obama.
In short, the side that opposes the Democrats always “owns the shutdown.” Whether Republicans are blocking new initiatives or pushing them, the reportage is unified in decrying their intransigence, while the Democrats merely want to keep the government working.
Having dispensed with the kabuki, Trump can attack the issues head on without getting caught up in the weaselly business of trying to avoid responsibility. We’ll see if those of us who’ve urged that sort of attitude in the past were correct, but the willingness of a politician to dispense with the games is refreshing.