FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?

US president Donald Trump says he’d be “proud” to take the blame or credit for a fake government shutdown. At issue: Whether or not a stopgap federal spending deal forces American taxpayers to fund his border wall fetish (he previously promised us Mexico would pick up the check).

For me, the situation feels like Christmas come early. I’m generally in favor of government shutdowns — even fake ones in which a few “non-essential” bureaucrats get sent home for a few days then get paid anyway — and 100% opposed to making the “constitution-free zone” near US borders even more like East Germany than it’s already been for decades.

Unfortunately, the whole thing is also about as real as Santa Claus.

In addition to being fake, any “shutdown” will be short. Congress is in “lame duck” mode right now, just stumbling along until new members (and new majority party in the House) take over in January and undo any December developments they don’t like.

As for the wall, it probably won’t get funded this month, but I bet we’ll see parts of it actually in place before the 2020 presidential election.

For one thing, there’s enough wiggle room in congressional appropriations that the chief executive can almost always find a way to pay for the things he wants most.

For another, Trump seems to have finally discovered a weapon that I’ve been pointing at since the fake government shutdowns of the 1990s. During these fake shutdowns, Republicans try to put the blame on Democrats and vice versa, with the winners being those more successful at shifting blame.

The way to really “win” a fake shutdown isn’t to successfully shift blame, it’s to successfully seize credit. Trying to shift blame and seeking a compromise looks like weakness. “Proudly” taking credit and refusing to bend looks like strength. And voters, as a rule, seem to value strength more than they value morality or intelligence. In politics, boldness tends to win the day.

If Trump sticks to his guns here, Democrats may find that they’ve painted themselves (and the next House) into a “try to shift blame” corner from which they will spend the next two years begrudgingly giving Trump everything he demands.

Those concessions may come with pretty “compromise” paint jobs but they’ll still amount to capitulations.  And that approach, in turn, will leave Democrats with a losing 2020 campaign strategy of whining that they had no choice.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 18, 2019
Timothy M. Gill
Bernie Sanders, Anti-Imperialism and Venezuela
W. T. Whitney
Cuba and a New Generation of Leaders Respond to U.S. Anti-People War
Jonathan Cook
How the Goliath of the Jerusalem Settler Movement Persuaded the World It’s Really David
William Hartung
Merger Mania: the Military-Industrial Complex on Steroids
John G. Russell
The Devolution Will Be Televised: Our Body-cam President
Judith Deutsch
Psychology Stories: Children
Dean Baker
The Coal Industry is Not a Major Employer
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Gangster: Adani’s Pursuit of Scientists
Thomas Knapp
National Polls Don’t Mean Much. Here’s Why.
Thomas Mountain
Africans Solving African Problems; Bringing Peace to Sudan
Ann Garrison
History Is Happening: WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate
Elliot Sperber
Don’t Open the Door 
July 17, 2019
Manuel García, Jr.
Ye Cannot Swerve Me: Moby-Dick and Climate Change
Charles Pierson
Sofi’s Choice
Gary Leupp
Epstein, Jane Doe, and Trump
Rebecca Gordon
I Had an Abortion and Now I’m Not Ashamed
Peter Bolton
In the US and Brazil, Two Trends Underline the Creeping Fascism of Both Governments
Michael Kidder
“Go Back Where You Came From:” an Episode From Canada
Steve Early - Rand Wilson
How Big Strike 30 Years Ago Aided Fight for Single Payer
John W. Whitehead
Sexual Predators in the Power Elite
Michael Welton
Teach the Children Well: the Unrealized Vision In Teaching and Learning in the Residential Schools
Khury Petersen-Smith
Iran’s Not the Aggressor, the US Is
Russell Mokhiber
Kip Sullivan and Dr. Matthew Hahn on How Value Based Programs Are Undermining Medicare and Single Payer
George Ochenski
A Fearless and Free Press is Essential to Our Democracy
Lawrence Wittner
Billionaires and American Politics
Dean Baker
Cheap Shots at the Trump Economy
July 16, 2019
Conn Hallinan
The World Needs a Water Treaty
Kenneth Surin
Britain Grovels: the Betrayal of the British Ambassador
Christopher Ketcham
This Land Was Your Land
Gary Leupp
What Right Has Britain to Seize an Iranian Tanker Off Spain?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Democratic Virtues in Electing a President
Thomas Knapp
Free Speech Just isn’t That Complicated
Binoy Kampmark
The Resigning Ambassador
Howard Lisnoff
Everybody Must Get Stoned
Nicky Reid
Nukes For Peace?
Matt Johnson
The United States of Overreaction
Cesar Chelala
Children’s Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Martin Billheimer
Sylvan Shock Theater
July 15, 2019
David Altheide
The Fear Party
Roger Harris
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Bachelet’s Gift to the US: Justifying Regime Change in Venezuela
John Feffer
Pyongyang on the Potomac
Vincent Kelley
Jeffrey Epstein and the Collapse of Europe
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Hissy-Fit Over Darroch Will Blow a Chill Wind Across Britain’s Embassies in the Middle East
Binoy Kampmark
Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Fake Book
Dean Baker
The June Jobs Report and the State of the Economy
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail