January 9, 2019


Trump Has Defeated Himself (David Frum, 1/08/19, The Atlantic)

"Leverage: don't make deals without it." The words appeared under Donald Trump's byline on page 55 of the 1987 best seller The Art of the Deal. Trump did not write them, and he seems not to have understood how to apply them. In this budget shutdown, Trump discarded his leverage from the very start, by declaring for the cameras that the budget shutdown was his decision, his responsibility. When the shutdown began to hurt, Trump and his surrogates hastily tried to transfer the onus--but it was too late. Everybody knew that it was Trump's doing, and that it was done for reasons rejected by large majorities of Americans.

The idea of invoking "emergency powers" was a last grasp for the leverage Trump had already abdicated, and it had to be abandoned for fear of what the courts and public opinion would say.

After the January 8 Oval Office address, little doubt remains of how this shutdown will end. Sooner or later--probably sooner--it will end the way Trump's threats of nuclear war upon North Korea ended: with a sudden Trump about-face. It is now only a matter of time. The polls will arrive over the next hours. Democrats and Republicans will both see that Trump did not move public opinion in his favor. They might see that Trump could not even motivate very many Americans to watch him. The panic slowly building among congressional Republicans will boil. Trump, trapped without a decent exit in a predicament of his own making, will yield everything and get nothing.

Neither Fred nor Vlad can bail him out this time.

Posted by at January 9, 2019 4:02 AM