The Wall: A Stumble Not a Surrender

Zealous political supporters of all stripes and in every walk of life spend an ungodly amount of time vainly trying to convince the rest of us that their preferred politician is perfect. This delusion makes it easier for these supporters to vote for their preferred candidates and sing the praises of their favorite elected officials. As for the rest of us, we’ve long been disabused of such notions—not by cynicism, but by virtue of a mature understanding of our flawed, mortal humanity and our life experiences.

A practical philosophical understanding of human imperfection has long confounded the opponents of President Trump. To these critics, Trump is such a morally reprehensible charlatan (and, likely in their febrile minds, a foreign agent and/or traitor) whose heinous, racist, fascist, and elitist policies are killing working people every day. In sum, to the Left, Donald Trump is a—gasp!—Republican president; and, to his GOP establishment critics, the populist Trump is an uncouth party crasher (literally).

Yet, rank and file Republicans recognize Trump is not a paragon of virtue, choosing instead to measure him on how effectively he and his administration implement our party’s policies and articulate our principles.

True, Trump (like all politicians) has his share of supporters who think he can do no wrong. At the moment, however, that number is shrinking in the wake of his decision Friday to end the government shutdown for three weeks without securing the $5.7 billion he wants to construct part of the southern border wall. Such scrambling among his supporters to jump off the Trump train is as understandable as it is errant.

Nobody’s perfect; not even Trump. The biggest mistake in this messy chapter of legislative sausage-making was not his acceptance of this temporary truce in the government shutdown. The biggest mistake was in allowing this battle to be over the wall in the first place.

It’s a battle the president could not win through parleying with a new Democratic majority in the House—one that was largely elected by running against him. Nor could he rely upon the support of surviving congressional Republicans, who are well aware of how many of their caucus mates were defeated last year by anti-Trump Democrats.

Nonetheless, even this mistake could have been ameliorated with some messaging from the administration about the border crisis—which was being done; and, ultimately, a presidential declaration of the crisis swiftly followed by the emergency construction of the wall. And, of course, the president also simultaneously would have signaled his desire to end the government shutdown.

Naturally, this course of action would be imperfect. The wall’s construction immediately would be challenged by the Left in the federal courts. But even if this Congress somehow appropriated funds for the wall and the president signed it into law, the Left would challenge the wall’s construction regardless.

What this course of action would have prevented is the president’s base GOP support being damaged needlessly.

Worse, despite all his efforts to reach a deal, Trump’s approval ratings won’t receive a boost from independents—let alone Democrats—for his willingness to end the government shutdown without wall funding. The biased media and craven members of his own party have seen to that. Importantly, what remains to be seen is whether the erosion among his base is ephemeral or enduring.

As a recovering politician, I’m a bit rusty at figuring out how long one will be hated by foes and friends. Still, I’ll hazard a guess that the next three weeks the base will be tough on President Trump. But this isn’t a case of “read my lips, no new taxes.” In that instance, President George H.W. Bush went out on a limb and sawed off his credibility with his base and independents. Bluntly, once he had made that deal, there was no way for him to correct it. He was cooked. Despite the current contretemps, however, President Trump can still get the wall.

And he will.

Hey, guess who else thinks so? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Why do you think Pelosi refuses to confirm a date for the House to invite the president to deliver his State of the Union? In the next three weeks, Pelosi will not give President Trump the ultimate platform to advocate for the wall; or, as is highly likely, declare the border crisis and announce the emergency building of the wall.

OK, so maybe he’ll have to do it from the Oval Office. But he’s going to do it. Talk about the Left getting triggered—woo, doggies!

So, if need be, in the coming weeks, one can fret that we’ve elected an imperfect person as president who can and does make mistakes. But, being human, every president can and does make mistakes. At least this president makes his mistakes trying to keep America great.

And that’s the bandwagon no one should abandon.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: President Donald Trump leaves the podium after making a statemnent annoncing that a deal has been reached to reopen the government through Feb. 15 during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House January 25, 2019 in Washington, DC.Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press