The last time Donald Trump told Americans he would proudly shut down the work of governance in the nation’s Capitol, it ended badly for him. He got a fraction of the funding he had wanted for his precious border wall, suffered a resounding political defeat, and his approvals plummeted. They are now headed in the same direction, and news of Trump’s latest Washington shutdown has barely even made it to the American public.
Trump’s low point for 2019 came in late January at 39.3%—exactly when he finally agreed to sign a bill reopening the government. On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to the American people that he wouldn’t be doing any of America’s business as long as congressional Democrats continued their investigations into him and his administration. “You can’t do it under these circumstances,” Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is simply choosing not to do America’s business. His new 2020 campaign slogan: Trump First!
But none of this fine spectacle of American leadership would be possible without the exquisite orchestration of Maestro Pelosi, who has repeatedly plucked Trump’s strings into a discordant and mesmerizing tizzy. Trump had reportedly been having trouble making the funding work for the $2 trillion infrastructure deal he had previously told the Democratic pair he would take the “lead on.” By Tuesday night, he had sent a letter to them hedging on his previous promise and warning that an infrastructure deal would only be possible if Congress first passed the North American free trade deal he had struck with Mexico and Canada. As Pelosi would later observe, Trump was already “looking for a way out.”
On Wednesday morning, Pelosi ensured that Trump’s way out would be politically ruinous for him, telling a reporter she believed Trump “is engaged in a cover up.” Pluck. Trump was reportedly “livid” following the comment. He had likely already decided to blow up the meeting, but now he would deliver a public grievance fest that would almost certainly back him into a political corner. Sure enough, he did just that.
As former Rep. Donna Edwards told MSNBC following the display, Trump is so routinely crazy that you Democrats can’t respond to every single lunatic thing he says or does. But Pelosi tweaks him just so and at opportune moments.
“You can’t do it by meeting him with every single blow, but you can do it by using language that then gets him to emote,” Edwards said.
Following Trump’s Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of “a lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge before him.” Pluck. In another, she took her impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is obstructing justice “in plain sight” and “that could be an impeachable offense.” Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is, has he figured that out yet? Here’s what happened the last time Trump finally realized he had suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of Maestro Pelosi. Popcorn anyone?