The irrelevance of Trump

President Trump went to El Paso, Texas on Monday to once again make the case for a border wall, headlining yet another rally filled with boasting about crowd size, ugly hyperbole about immigrants, invective against Democrats, and the usual dollop of irrelevant presidential preening. It was all familiar and, by now, even kind of tedious.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, lawmakers made an agreement on border security.

“I think everyone will say ‘Good work,'” said Congresswoman Kay Granger, a Texas Republican who was part of the negotiations.

Was it a coincidence that progress was made on the most intractable issue of the Trump Era as soon as the president left town? It didn’t seem that way. The symbolism of the moment was unmistakable: Without Trump around to gum up the works — to approve an agreement, say, then backtrack in the face of conservative criticism — bipartisan action became a lot easier to achieve.

In other words, Trump suddenly appeared to be the thing he hates most: irrelevant.

But he brushed off the news so that he could take the stage. It seemed putting on a show in El Paso was much more important to him than whatever was going on in Washington.

“They say that progress is being made. Just so you know. Just now, just now,” Trump said as news of the agreement emerged. “I said wait a minute, I gotta take care of my people from Texas, I got to go, I don’t even want to hear about it, I don’t want to hear about it.”

Now that a deal is on the table, it’s pretty easy to see why lawmakers attempted to work things out among themselves after the last shutdown. Progress was impossible as long as Trump was central to negotiations: Recall his televised meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in which he proclaimed he would be “proud” to take responsibility for a shutdown. It was no better when cameras were absent: Trump stormed out of another so-called negotiating session. It seems Trump himself is an obstruction on the road to progress.

Surely, we can expect Trump to attempt to reassert his own importance. As President Bill Clinton famously growled in a low moment: “The Constitution gives me relevance.” Trump likes to portray himself as much more than merely relevant, but indispensable. “I alone can fix it,” he said of the nation’s problems during the 2016 campaign; he followed that up during last week’s State of the Union address with another assertion of unilateral will: “I will get it built,” he said of the wall.

We don’t know yet what exactly is in the new agreement. According to The Washington Post, the deal funds the government through the fall, and includes just $1.375 billion to install barriers along the southern border, rather than the $5.7 billion the president has demanded. Trump could veto the agreement, shut down the government again, and force …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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