President Trump brought his reality show to prime time last night. The networks, which devote countless hours to how spineless Republican members of Congress are, showed just how spineless they could be by granting his request.
Having folded, the least they could have done was to institute a 10-second delay for lies. Trump began truthfully with “my fellow Americans” but it went downhill from there as he repeated a hoary litany of horrors reminiscent of the announcement of his candidacy with Mexico sending us their rapists and his inaugural address invoking American carnage. We are experiencing a “crisis of the heart, a crisis of the soul” complete with a flood of violent terrorists, murderers, gang members and lethal drug dealers who kill more people annually than the Vietnam War did in total.
His solution: a steel barrier (down from a concrete wall) which border agents can magically see through and which will be paid for in part by “the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.” He explained that wealthy people build beautiful ones around their homes not because they hate people outside but love those on the inside. He spared us the false claim that Obama has built one around his new house in Washington.
To blame are Democrats who refuse to admit there’s a crisis and were willing to build a wall before he was President. All the misery could be over tomorrow in 45 minutes if they would just see things his way.
Where to start: The fact is that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. The majority of heroin enters the United States through legal ports of entry and China provides most of the fentanyl.
Crossings have declined for two decades. He emphasized the humanitarian crisis, which has the benefit of being true, but which he created with his deterrence policy that’s left two children dead and many more sick and traumatized. He hasn’t actually hired more judges to process asylum seekers who are made up of families escaping gangs, not drug mules.
Like Nixon sweating at his debate with Kennedy, Trump was moist with desperation. On Day 18 of the second-longest government shutdown, he looked to TV to save him from becoming one of those losers he hates, like Theresa May rather than one of the authoritarian winners he admires, like Vladimir Putin.
A reality show rescued him from being a washed-up casino owner and second-rate real estate developer; maybe it could save him from Nancy Pelosi. He sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, usually reserved for major drama, like the Cuban Missile Crisis (Kennedy) and the Challenger explosion (Reagan). The trappings of the office couldn’t overcome the hard truth that airports are the largest port of entry for illegals, not the southern border. There’s no wall high enough to stop a 747.
Nor did he make it more likely that Pelosi will cease peeling off Republicans to reopen the government, department by department. The cracks in his Senate are widening. “Where’s Mitch McConnell” has become a cloakroom pastime as two senators up for election have already bolted and others are threatening to. He sees fewer allies defending him on TV, which he watches hours a day.
At least he resisted declaring a national emergency to save him from needing Democrats to give him the money. It keeps Rush Limbaugh quiet and, most importantly, gives Trump cover for caving in. He was talked out of it because it would alienate hawks in his party and tie him up in court. He’d be forced to eat crow anyway.
Trump’s right that there is a crisis in the country but not of its heart or soul but of Trump’s. No speech can fix that.