Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was not happy with President Trump’s recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Trump was not happy that Graham was not happy, and the senator is now angling to get back in the president’s good graces before the new year. On Sunday, he spent a good deal of time in front of various cameras dutifully bashing Democrats for refusing to cow to the Trump’s demands for border wall funding.
While speaking in front of the White House following lunch with the president, Graham admitted that the border wall is a “metaphor” for border security.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "The wall has become a metaphor for border security" pic.twitter.com/vXrmJpUV52
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 30, 2018
Graham seems to be saying this to emphasize that the border wall will not be some monolithic rampart covering every inch of the nearly 2,000 miles that separate the United States from Mexico. The message, though, doesn’t appear to have reached the president, who continues to describe the wall as if he’s living inside a cartoon. “President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” he tweeted Sunday night. “I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”
President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2018
Trump’s appeals have been growing increasingly desperate since he allowed the government to partially shut down on December 21st. The day it became official, Trump tried to explain how it’s been true “for thousands of years” that a wall is the only thing that will work. “It’s like the wheel, there is nothing better,” Trump wrote. “I know tech better than anyone & technology on a Border is only effective in conjunction with a Wall.” A few hours later, he tweeted a crude graphic rendering of a steel slat wall with spikes on the top, a design that was not actually under consideration by Border Patrol.
The material nature of the wall has been a source of insecurity for the president. On Sunday, outgoing chief of staff John Kelly told the Los Angeles Times that the idea of a concrete wall was abandoned “early on in the administration.” On Monday, Trump pushed back, blaming Kelly’s comments on the media.
An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2018
This is all too dumb to waste time deconstructing, and it’s probably going to get far dumber before the standoff between the president and Democrats is “resolved.” Last week, the Daily Beast reported that Trump’s team is “gleeful” about the idea of the shutdown taking attention away from Democrats assuming control of the House of Representatives. The New York Times didn’t offer much hope either, noting on Sunday that both sides have “dug in,” and that Trump has told allies that he has no plans to sign off on a deal that does not include funding for a border wall. The shutdown, which has left 800,000 federal employees without paychecks, could persist for weeks. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has advised affected workers to offer to do manual labor for their landlords in lieu of paying rent.
Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats, even dropping the hashtag #SchumerShutdown into a tweet on Sunday. It’s difficult to argue the shutdown isn’t the president’s doing, especially considering he admitted it. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump told Schumer when they, along with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, convened before the press in the Oval Office earlier this month.
Lawmakers on both sides responded to the threat by stressing that a shutdown is not the answer, and on December 19th the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) which would have delayed the funding deadline until February 8th by a vote of 100-0. Departing House Speaker Paul Ryan then dropped a capstone on a career of cowardice by refusing to bring the CR to a vote. If at least two-thirds of the House voted in favor of the CR, Trump wouldn’t have been able to veto it.
A few minutes after assuring followers on Monday that the idea for a concrete wall was “NEVER ABANDONED,” Trump once again took aim at Democrats, calling the border an “open wound” that “Dems should get back here and fix now!” A few hours after that, he threw another dagger while reintroducing his bit about the effectiveness of the wheel.
It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work. It does, and properly built, almost 100%! They say it’s old technology – but so is the wheel. They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2018
The problem with his pleas for cooperation is that the president’s intent seems to be Pelosi and Schumer’s complete and total submission versus any real interest in working toward a compromise. Despite all of his crowing, Trump has yet to even reach out to the incoming House speaker, instead opting to tweet and complain on the phone to cable news hosts, according to the Times. He’s given no indication that he will accept anything less than a bill that includes all of the $5.7 billion in funding he desired before the shutdown, or that he is open to offering Democrats anything at all in exchange for indulging his ego. This is because he cares far more about humiliating them than providing America with the border security he claims the wall would bring. It’s all a power game to the president, and in that sense the border wall is, like Graham admitted on Sunday, nothing more than a metaphor, one that Trump wants Americans — not Mexico, as he promised — to pay tens of billions of dollars to conjure into existence.
Graham and Senate Republicans supporting the president’s delusions don’t seem to care very much. All’s well as long as they feel they can influence Trump’s thinking when it comes to taxes or health care or whatever else may be on their agenda. “I feel like I’ve had more access to this president than every president combined,” Graham told CNN on Sunday. “I’m generally very pleased.”