To boldly go where no man …
“The only national emergency is our president is an idiot.” —Ann Coulter
Ouch. Coming from such a sweet, demure, soft spoken lass, you know that has to hurt.
But, it is always interesting when the hyenas of the political world start to eat their own. Soon, the vultures will begin circling.
Donald J. Trump has just become but the latest American political figure to fall victim to Mosby’s Rule of Association: If you set out to lead a band of cannibals, make sure to check the menu every day.
The painfully predictable political passion play that culminated in last Friday’s rambling, incoherent stream-of-consciousness presidential emergency declaration in the White House Rose Garden is normally the sort of thing that leaves me content to just sit back and allow the inevitable to play out, within my prevailing opinion that most folks in Washington pretty well deserve to reap what they sow, no matter how sweet or sour that might be.
But this one, as my grandmother was wont to say, “takes the cake.” (I’m not sure what they means, but it certainly seems fitting.)
First, Trump signs a piece of legislation passed by Congress into law—legislation which allocates $1.375 billion for fencing and other expenditures related to border security, but specifically prohibits any of its being spent upon the greatest American tall tale since Paul Bunyon —“the wall.”
Then, that self-same president announced that he was summarily declaring a national emergency (which does not, in objective reality exist) so that he might then usurp other funds appropriated by Congress for other things, allegedly to go toward a speedier construction of said wall.
There are several things rather seriously the matter with all of that, but it was another pair of things that the president said and did, things which should make Franz Kafka gratified in his afterlife knowing his work was not in vain, and certainly will make the growing legion of presidential lawyers drink heavily, which cannot be bypassed absent mention.
First, immediately after declaring the existence of the nonexistent emergency, the president admitted as much, saying “I didn’t have to do this,” (sorta, kinda undermining the “emergency” thing) and then he did what all heads of state do when faced with an existential threat to their nations, he whisked away for a weekend of golf at his private club.
I will leave it to the constitutional scholars and lawyers filing suit right and left to discuss how the president’s action violates the doctrine of separation of powers and undermines the very concept of Madisonian democracy itself, and instead offer what I am certain will be a vain attempt to explain to President Trump’s most ardent supporters why this just won’t do in terms which they might readily understand: He’s making his way the only way he knows how, and that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.
But here’s the kicker folks: Not only is Trump creating the false reality out of whole cloth that he is “already building” the wall when in the tattered and torn concept of truth he has actually built nary an inch of it, but the dirty little secret is that he doesn’t even want to do it.
Trump doesn’t want to build his Babe the Blue Ox wall; he knows it will be tied up in the courts for a least a year, giving him a highly desired foil to rant and rave against, while distracting his followers from all those pesky investigations of him and everybody who has ever been close to him, past and present.
Trump doesn’t want the wall. He wants the issue of the wall to run on in 2020.
In the words of the Washington Post’s Robert Costa, “President Trump and his political team plan to make his years-long quest for a border wall one of the driving themes of his reelection effort—attempting to turn his failure to build such a project into a combative sales pitch that pits him against the political establishment on immigration.”
It’s a sham, folks. It’s a con. With Trump, everything is about “the base,” and what he’s doing amounts to survival politics with those who foolishly think he is one of them. Everything he is doing is antithetical to conservatism. Everything about this flies in the face of traditional Republican orthodoxy.
Two years ago, Trump fooled just enough people for just enough time to get himself elected and he’s betting that the same strategy of us-against-them will be just enough to do it again next year.
Trump is a master illusionist, creating his own realities, but to the true believers, that has never mattered.
God help the country should it not.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.