William Rivers Pitt | Shutdown for the Trumpiversary: A Ghastly Symmetry

2918 0120 Shutdown(Photo: Joe Brusky)

Perfect.

Right? Just perfect. The one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration could not have happened any other way. A choreographer could not mark it, a screenwriter could not script it, if either tried they’d be laughed out of their respective professions, yet here we are.

The government is shut down under one-party rule for the first time in history.

As of midnight, the federal government is shut down. It will remain so until the Senate and House agree on a new spending bill. The federal government is shut down because the president of the United States is too racist to cut a deal for the Dreamers, and because the congressional Republicans who coddle him for his precious signature could not govern their way down a short hallway with one door. The federal government is shut down under one-party rule for the first time in history.

Remember when the Republicans moved Heaven and Earth to pass their terrible trillion-dollar tax bill? Now that it’s law, the IRS is scrambling to update all its tax software, staff call centers to field questions from befuddled taxpayers, resolve a myriad of legal questions left murky by the new law, and generally get ready for the 2017 tax season, which has already begun. With the government shut down, more than half the IRS is on furlough and that vital work isn’t getting done. An awful bill is being made worse by the man celebrating one long, strange year on the job.

No one is happy about the government shutting down. Speaking personally, I am glad the Democrats and a few rogue Republicans have decided to give the Dreamers a fighting chance to put at least some of this whole xenophobic nightmare behind them. The thing is, avoiding a shutdown by striking a Dreamers deal could have been accomplished two Tuesdays ago, when Trump was all smiles about it. That lasted until Stephen Miller and a cohort of immigration hardliners dragged him back to his base and blew the whole thing to hell, of course.

Here is the measure of the moment: As we speak, a salacious story about Donald Trump’s alleged six-figure dalliance with an adult film actress is fighting for column inches with Tank McNamara on the back page of who cares. This story has everything, including a cameo appearance by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and possible potato Ben Roethlisberger, but no one seems the least bit interested. I hate to indulge in a moment of “Whataboutism,” but if a story like this had popped during Bill Clinton’s administration, Wolf Blitzer’s head would have turned into a pillar of fire. Now? It barely tweaks the needle.

Don’t snicker too long at the morass of chaotic ineptitude the administration is mired in.

So we wait, and we watch, and we’re officially a year into this grim thing. Don’t snicker too long at the morass of chaotic ineptitude the administration is mired in. Some — if not most — of that is theater in the vein of Wrestlemania. In reality, Trump and his congressional allies have been quite busy. In the last year, they have:

  • Expedited approval for the Keystone XL pipeline;
  • Put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and put a whole slew of right-wing judges on the federal bench;
  • Rolled back protections for transgender students;
  • Declared a permanent US military presence in Syria;
  • Eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate;
  • Rolled back huge swaths of environmental protections;
  • Basically obliterated the Environmental Protective Agency as a functioning body;
  • Rolled back net neutrality and various internet privacy rules;
  • Signed a law allowing states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood;
  • Translated a trillion dollars in taxpayer money to the wealthiest Americans while simultaneously gutting the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate;
  • Pulled out of the Paris climate accord;
  • Succeeded in enacting some of Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban;
  • Embraced and empowered white nationalism;
  • Pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio;
  • Appointed Mick Mulvaney to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and;
  • Reestablished vast warrantless surveillance rules.

In reality, Trump and his congressional allies have been quite busy.

That ain’t nothing, and worse is yet to come. They have been busy, and look to be busier still once they get past the current calamity. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has his eyes on Social Security and Medicare in the coming year, for openers.

For the moment, however, let us enjoy the ghastly symmetry of it all: Trump celebrates his inaugural anniversary by watching his government close up shop because his racism once again crashed into the making of public policy.