Trump and the border security deal: stuck between defeat and an alternate reality
Trump will presumably sign a border security agreement that would prevent another partial government shutdown - but not before inventing his own version of the facts.
At this stage of the game, President Trump's strategy to manipulate reality to benefit himself politically when defeat is imminent should be expected.
After keeping the government closed for five weeks in late December and into the new year, and after raising calls for "more border security," Trump has moved from "build" to "finish" when talking about his desired border wall with Mexico. This, just days before he will likely assume defeat once again in the negotiations for the wall.
In his first official re-election campaign rally on Monday, the president spoke to residents of El Paso, TX again about his failed efforts to make good on his big campaign promise, in a tone that anticipated his need to change his strategy on the issue, especially in light of the bipartisan agreement Congress has reached to keep the government running for the rest of the year.
According to CNN, it seems that "Trump intends to sign a border security agreement" this week "to avoid another government shutdown", finally giving in to the battle initiated after his fateful meeting with Democratic leaders in the White House late last year.
The new agreement includes "$1.375 billion for a border barrier" - effectively $5.7 billion less than the president has been pushing for. This "border barrier" would involve 55 miles of "fences" - but no wall.
Even worse for Trump, the agreement "prohibits the use of concrete walls or any other prototype," and stipulates that only "existing technologies" will be used, according to Rolling Stone.
Despite the president's campaign rally speech, Republicans and Democrats have opted for "flexibility" in reaching a deal that includes wins for both parties.
According to analysis by the New York Times, Republicans acted to appease the majority of Americans who did not want another shutdown, instead of attempting to satisfy the president's demands. Meanwhile, Democrats avoided being splattered with the guilt of another government impasse.
"Republicans in particular know that the wall is not broadly popular in the country, and that another government closure would probably hurt their party far more than Democrats," explains the newspaper, emphasizing that "much of the impetus” of the GOP came from the majority in the Senate.
Trump could conceivably still grasp at straws, however.
While an initial commitment is essential, the final legislation must be drafted and approved by both houses before Friday, providing ample time for the impulsive president to rethink his intentions, and refuse to put pen to paper.
In addition, even if Trump signs the new agreement, he could continue to try other routes to build "the beautiful, big and strong wall" he mentions so often, including declaring a national emergency which would allow him to access funds from the Armed Corps of Engineers.
Should the president ultimately refuse to sign the bipartisan agreement, or if he signs and proceeds to declare a national emergency, he would likely face strong opposition in the courts.
Still, if there is one thing we can be sure of it’s that Donald Trump will not take any defeat lightly - and he and his aides will promote alternate realities to save face politically.