For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the Christmas season is the happiest time of year. Unfortunately, for close to a million federal workers, this holiday season could be one of the worst.
The reason is obvious. About one fourth of all federal employees – some 800,000 more or less – will either be working without pay or forced to go on leave also sans salary because of the shutdown that went into effect Friday last week.
All blame falls squarely on the lap of President Donald Trump. A little more than a week ago, he said he would be proud to shut down the government, all in the name of border security.
Now that Mr. Trump has been universally reviled for his decision, he is blaming the Democrats.
In his ivory tower, he forgets that the 800,000 who will not have funds for this holiday season have families and friends. Their children will not be getting gifts from Santa this week, all because of Scrooge Donald.
In what may be his most insane act as president, a compromise agreement that would avert the shutdown and which was unanimously passed by Congress was rejected by the president. This, after he had earlier said that he would sign the bill that would keep the federal government operating for another two months.
The worst part? He changed his mind after speaking with a handful of radio and TV commentators. No longer are those Fox News personalities just friends of his, they have become de facto presidential advisers.
In short, the President of the United States has rejected the bipartisan call not to punish 800,000 federal employees and their families by shutting down the government, all on the advice of a handful of ultra right wing commentators?
Let that sink in for a while.
The leader of the free world allows himself to be held hostage by the opinions of three or four quasi-journalists, none of whom could get elected to any position if their lives depended on it.
And he insists on building a wall that he had promised during his campaign would be paid for by Mexico. This is a wall that experts say is the least effective means of stopping the entry of illegal immigrants from the south.
But no. Mr. Trump insists that he should get the $5 billion needed to build an ineffective wall, otherwise the 800,000 federal employees can work without pay or remain on furlough until he gets his wish.
When he was still a businessman, Mr. Trump wrote a book called The Art of the Deal. Time and again he insists that he is a great dealmaker.
He seems to forget one thing. When two sides try to strike a deal, the most important thing is a willingness to compromise.
Blaming the Democrats for his shutdown all but closes the door on the possibility of hammering out a compromise agreement that would ease the minds of the federal employees now in financial limbo.
If the current crisis situation goes from bad to worse, Mr. Trump will have no one to blame but himself.