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A new must-read analysis by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, titled “The signs are mounting: Trump has been badly weakened. It will get worse for him,” captures why the Trump administration’s plan to shut down the government over his wasteful and offensive border wall ignores the 2018 midterm results, divides Republican elected officials and unites Democrats, and fails to recognize the severely weakened position of President Trump and his lack of leverage.
Sargent’s full analysis is available online here, with key excerpts below:
Stephen Miller, the Trump kingdom’s Immigration Iago, wants you to believe that his boss retains great leverage in the ongoing government shutdown fight — so much so that he will, repeat will, get his great border wall. Miller, a top White House adviser, said Sunday that President Trump will “do whatever is necessary” to force Democrats to cough up the $5 billion he wants for the wall and will “absolutely” shut down the government to get it.
In reality, it’s not even clear that Trump has sufficient Republican support to get his wall money out of Congress. The New York Times now reports that Republicans aren’t even sure that this funding would pass the House, because many Republicans who were defeated in the midterms might not bother showing up to vote for it.
Wait, this cannot be! Miller spent much of his “Face the Nation” appearance excoriating Democrats over the wall. Democrats have instead offered far less in border security funding, with restrictions against spending it for that purpose. Miller suggested Democrats have the weaker position, claiming they must “choose to fight for America’s working class, or to promote illegal immigration.”
Wow, what a powerful message! That must be the same message that carried Trump and House Republicans to a great midterms victory! Oh wait, the opposite happened. This has gone down the memory hole, but last summer, Miller vowed that precisely that same contrast on immigration would prove potent for Republicans. They ran the most virulently xenophobic nationalist campaign in memory — and lost the House by the largest raw-vote margin in midterm elections history.
The meta-message that Miller hoped to convey is that Trump retains formidable strength in the shutdown battle over the wall, but the real story right now is that Trump is weakened. He lacks leverage in the shutdown fight, and it’s plausible that he’s losing influence over congressional Republicans.
… Given how deeply unpopular the wall is — and given that it doesn’t even have sufficient Republican support — the incentives all align with Democrats holding the line. Especially with Trump’s weaknesses mounting on so many other fronts.