In finally agreeing to end the government shutdown that lasted more than a month, President Donald Trump said that he was not caving but was still bent on building his wall.
He gave the Democrats until the middle of this month to finalize a deal, otherwise another shutdown was forthcoming. Either that, or he would declare a national emergency.
Either option would be wrong on many counts.
Literally millions of Americans suffered during the longest shutdown in US history. Aside from the 800,000 federal government employees who either went on furlough or worked without pay, there were also their families who bore the brunt of the financial crisis, as well as the countless government suppliers who lost business during that grim period.
If President Trump is unaware of it, or if he refuses to accept the fact that the majority of the American people blame him and his Republican Party for the closure of some 25 percent of the federal government, then he will likely repeat the mistake.
As for his threat to declare a national emergency, this foolhardy plan is doomed to fail. It will almost certainly be contested in court, and it does not take a genius to see that there is no overpowering emergency that requires the declaration.
Such a declaration is reserved for actual, serious threats such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor or when a superstorm causes massive loss of life and property. The fact that undocumented immigrants entering US soil from the south has been decreasing over the years says that there is no emergency that Mr. Trump speaks of.
The POTUS must accept the one undeniable fact that the Speaker of the House is a smart political opponent, one who could run rings around him if she so desires. During the shutdown, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stock rose in direct proportion to President Trump’s fall from grace with the people.
He may still have his fanatical following, but they represent a shrinking minority of Americans.
When even his closest allies at Fox News and a handful of Republican senators joined the Democrats in the failed try to pass a bill to end the shutdown last week, the writing on the wall should have been clear to the president.
It is the wise commander who knows when to go on a tactical retreat as part of a stronger strategy to attain a worthy objective.
Should Mr. Trump declare a second shutdown or issue a presidential decree declaring a national emergency, he can kiss his chances of being reelected in 2020 goodbye. Under a worst case – for him, at least – scenario, he will even face impeachment proceedings sooner rather than later.
The best thing for the president to do is to work with the Democrats who are almost certain to support any plan to strengthen border security without having to put up a medieval border wall, as they call it.
An electronic wall buttressed by thousands of drones should do the trick. This way, Mr. Trump can still claim to have set up the wall that he promised his followers. He started with a cement wall, then a steel barrier or fence. Why not an electronic wall?
Unfortunately, there is no way that Mexico will pay for that kind of wall either.