After a 90-minute Cabinet meeting on Wednesday where Trump was lying or bragging or both throughout, he met with Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation to “discuss” border security, the Wall and the government shutdown. Before the delegation even had a chance to sit down, Trump deployed a pair of brazen lies about his beloved Wall: The trade deal he just struck means Mexico will pay for it (nope), and, in his words, “much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built” (likewise nope).
The Trump-Pelosi meeting Wednesday evening predictably came to nothing, and not just for the reasons you might suspect. Donald Trump hasn’t realized he’s betting all his chips on a busted straight and still believes he can bare-face his way through the muddle he’s made for himself, but we knew that. Word came down on Wednesday afternoon, however, that Trump and his people have somehow convinced themselves that Pelosi lacks the votes to become Speaker. The White House chose to punt the meeting to Friday and see who’s still standing once the smoke clears. Pro tip: Pelosi has it in the bag.
What a perfectly ridiculous way to ring in a new year.
It is my most devout and fervent hope that you were able to spend the days between the Christmas holiday and the New Year resting and ignoring the president of the United States and his ongoing government shutdown with all your might. If you managed to do so, congratulations: You are smarter for the effort. If you were sucked into the vortex of gibbering nonsense deployed by Donald Trump before the ball dropped in New York City, well, welcome to the club; we get jackets.
If you missed it, allow me to catch you up. The barrage began on Christmas Day and hasn’t yet ended. Try to contain your shock, but yes, Trump lied to us over and over again in a drumbeat of false accusations and baseless proclamations. His fixation on the now-mythical Wall is causing him to bend the very nature of fiction into audacious new shapes. The Wall for Trump becomes slats at intervals, and Mexico will pay for it once Chuck Schumer coughs up enough US tax dollars to, um, pay for it, or something.
Meanwhile, swaths of the federal government remain shut down. “Irony of ironies,” snarks The Washington Post’s editorial board, “that shutdown has paralyzed the nation’s immigration courts, shuttering many of them and allowing several hundred undocumented immigrants to dodge deportation orders each day the shutdown continues. They are among many hundreds of others whose cases will be postponed for years — or, in effect, indefinitely — for every day the closure lasts.”
Pitch this script to a Hollywood producer and they’d laugh you out of the building. Special notice, however, must be given to a tweet sent out hours before the New Year began. This one, my friends, is genuinely special:
…Remember this. Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way! Please explain to the Democrats that there can NEVER be a replacement for a good old fashioned WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
Clearly, Mr. Trump did not spend the holiday season acclimating himself to the harshly altered reality facing him today. “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change” is the lament of a sulky teenager who can’t pass a driver’s license test … or the lament of a cornered lout no longer in control of the conversation. For Trump, 2019 isn’t just a year; it’s an estimate of the number of subpoenas the White House can expect from Pelosi and Co. before Valentine’s Day.
“You have Walls and you have Wheels,” Trump continued. “It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way!” Some things beggar likeness, but this strikes me as an eerily strange attempt to channel Bruce Springsteen: “We got one last chance to make a deal / To trade in this Wall for some wheels …” Who knew The Orange One had such melancholy depths? If he starts trying to channel Jim Morrison, I’m moving to the Mongolian steppe and taking up yak herding.
Trump will have ample time to plumb those depths, starting today, for the new majority in the House of Representatives did not let the grass grow beneath their 40-seat November victory. Already, no less than six appropriations bills are prepared and ready to end the government shutdown while denying Trump the money he wants for the Wall. This is the same package Senate Republicans supported before Trump scuttled into his own personal Alamo and started chucking fur balls over the walls.
Having the appropriations tuned up and set for passage on day one puts the ball squarely in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s court. “It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism,” said Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer in a joint statement, “for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported.”
And then there are the investigations. According to CNN, the House Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a third as-yet unnamed committee have been racking and stacking resumes with an eye toward the presidential jugular. They are specifically fielding staff candidates with expertise in “criminal law, immigration law, constitutional law, intellectual property law, commercial and administrative law (including antitrust and bankruptcy), or oversight work.” A separate job advertisement seeks “investigative counsel to conduct congressional investigations and advise on policy matters related to oversight of the executive branch.”
“The White House, meanwhile, seems wholly unprepared for what’s about to happen,” reports Rafi Schwartz of Splinter News. “It’s understaffed, for one, and also increasingly unable to respond to even Robert Mueller’s existing Special Counsel investigation, thanks to the president’s total unpredictability.”
If you have the requisite skill set, it’s probably not too late to send a resume to Pelosi’s office. I’m just sayin’. Good work if you can get it.