As critical agencies within the federal government shut down at midnight Friday, there is no clear sign that a compromise solution that would end the shutdown is anywhere in sight.
Donald Trump maintains he will continue to refuse to sign a stopgap funding measure without $5 billion in funding for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, which was his #1 campaign promise to his supporters.
Trump in a meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer last Tuesday had threatened a shutdown if he did not receive the $5 billion in funding for the wall. At the time he said he would be “proud” to do so in the name of border security.
But he later backed down from that position and said he would support a short-term spending measure that did not contain wall money but would have kept the government open until February 8.
However, in a move that shook up all of Washington, Trump changed his mind again on Thursday. He tweeted that he would refuse to sign any funding bill to keep the government open that did not provide the money he had demanded for his border wall.
And, true to his word, he did shut down part of the federal government at midnight on Friday.
What is most interesting — and perhaps most disturbing — about this chronicle of events is what has been reported as the cause of Trump’s flip flop.
It is well known that Trump doesn’t listen to his top advisers and cabinet members when making critical decisions affecting the United States.
Instead, it appears that he listens to right-wing media personalities such as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, both of whom lambasted the president for giving in to Democrats on wall funding.
After Trump said he would sign the compromise short-term bill Limbaugh said:
“It’s a textbook example of what the drive-by media calls compromise. Trump gets nothing, and the Democrats get everything, including control of the House.”
Coulter, said on a podcast on the Daily Caller that Trump “would become a joke presidency who scammed the American people” if he didn’t build the wall. She also said that “he’ll have no legacy whatsoever” if the Mexican border wall is not built. Then she repeated her criticisms in other media, and on Twitter.
Laura Ingraham from Fox News added her own commentary on Wednesday:
“Not funding the wall will go down as one of the worst, worst things to happen to this administration. … Forget Mueller. The wall, the wall, the wall — has to be built.”
Then, on “Fox & Friends,” Steve Doocy said: “If there’s not a shutdown, he’s going to look like a loser.”
One Republican senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, said he was very unhappy with the large amount of influence these conservative media personalities have on the president.
“This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right? And so, how do you deal with that? You have two talk radio hosts who completely flipped the president. And so, do we succumb to tyranny of talk radio hosts?”
On Friday Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that Trump’s flip flop on the shutdown was caused by the right-wing commentators who publicly challenged Trump’s “manhood.” Toobin also gave advice to Republicans who want to learn exactly where Trump stands on any given issue, saying:
“What they should be doing, obviously, is checking with Ann Coulter. Because apparently she’s the president of the United States, as far as this is concerned.”
Coulter, again showing her frustration with Trump, responded in a tweet.
“If that were true, we’d have a wall,” she wrote.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.
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