What a joke. What a fraud. As Bugs Bunny used to say, what a maroon.
Art of the deal? Deal?!
Donald Trump is in this so far above his head he’s like Danny DeVito in the Lakers’ locker room. To extend the metaphor, Nancy Pelosi is LeBron, and Chuck Schumer is, uh, whoever their second-best player is these days. But the two of them, Pelosi in particular, have just made the president of the United States look like 1) a fool and 2) a moral eunuch, which you might say shouldn’t be hard, because he is obviously both of those things, but he is the president and he has the bully pulpit and all that, along with a propaganda network that every night tells millions of Americans that he farts roses, so actually it is kind of hard, what they did.
Trump looked so terrible at that Rose Garden… well, it wasn’t a press conference. It wasn’t exactly a speech, either. Event. Of course he had his goons around, so that when he said right off the bat that there was a deal to end the shutdown, we heard applause. Applause! Can you imagine?
He just got taken to the house and forced to humiliate himself on national television, and these zombies applaud? He singlehandedly shut down the government. Cost hundreds of thousands of people their paychecks through his bluster and buffoonery. Sent air-traffic controllers who already work hellish 50- and 60-hour weeks out to find part-time work. And they applaud?
Then he just carried on and on and on, well past the point that most Americans might actually have been listening. Okay, dude, you lost. We got it. Now you’re still going to make us listen to all this word-salad of yours about left turns and right turns and women with duct tape? Where did that come from? Probably some TV movie he watched. Or maybe James Woods told him.
Why’d he cave now? There are some normal reasons, like the mess at LaGuardia today. Maybe that actually got through to the son of Queens. Maybe the votes in the Senate yesterday, assuming someone explained to him what they meant, the implications.
But this is Trump we’re talking about, so let’s also ponder the abnormal reasons. Like first and foremost that he mainly just wants to give his State of the Union address next Tuesday in the normal way. He must be tearing out whatever that moss is on top of his head at the fact that Nancy and Chuck got better ratings than he did for that one TV appearance. He’s surely been hankering to set that right ever since.
“I am proud to shut down the government,” he famously said on Dec. 11. As we all knew then, he had no idea what he was talking about. Then he let it happen. Hey, this is fun! Showdown time. I’ll show America what a great negotiator I am.
But he forgot a few things, like the fact that Pelosi and Schumer know a hell of a lot more—about legislation, about parliamentary procedure, about the implications of a shutdown, about everything—than he does. In New York real estate, with enough layers of lawyers and p.r. men, you can bluff, bullshit, and bully your way through.
But there’s a lot riding on a government shutdown. I hope he learned that. I hope Wilbur Ross and Kevin Hassett and Lara Trump learned.
But what am I thinking? These people don’t learn. Wait, maybe that’s slightly wrong. Ann Coulter is mad, apparently. So what Trump et al. will probably learn is exactly the opposite of what a reasonable human being would learn. Sure enough, at the end of his Learseque Rose Garden soliloquy, he basically threatened another shutdown. Either that or he’ll invoke emergency powers to address the emergency that no expert thinks exists. That will be fun.
But this wasn’t fun. It was funny, watching Trump trying to persuade America that this wasn’t a colossal failure for which he alone was responsible. But it wasn’t fun. Not for the people affected. This shutdown will go down as one of the most shockingly incompetent episodes in the entire history of the American presidency. Of this there is no doubt.
Warren Harding, who liked drinking and playing poker more than being president, once confided to a friend that “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.”
Trump is like Harding, except Harding had one quality Trump lacks utterly: self-awareness.