Donald Trump held a 'Finish the Wall' rally in El Paso, but he couldn't be bothered to actually acknowledge negotiations about how to build the wall in the first place.
The first Trump rally of 2019 is in the history books. It was predictably vicious and incoherent, including the now-routine exaggerations about crowd size that are a Trump hallmark and demands to lock Hillary Clinton up.
But this rally had a new twist: Trump announced he was ignoring updates on talks to avert another government shutdown — so that he could instead come out and bask in the MAGA love.
It wasn't just that he was passively ignoring the discussions or was unaware of where things were at. He knew that a deal was possible, and he said so himself:
They say that progress is being made. Just so you know. Just now just now. I said wait a minute, I gotta take care of my people from Texas, I got to go, I don’t even want to hear about it, I don’t want to hear about it.
It was a shockingly unpresidential move even for someone as unpresidential as Trump.
A bipartisan group of legislators is doing their best to avert yet another pointlessly expensive government shutdown, but Trump can't be bothered even to pay attention, much less participate.
Perhaps he's trying to ignore the deal because it is nothing remotely like the kind of deal Trump thinks he'd get, being such a master negotiator. While Trump was pumping himself up for El Paso, Senate and House negotiators agreed to a deal that provides $1.375 billion for fencing and other barriers, including 55 miles of new bollard fencing.
This isn't just a deal that offers much less than Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for his wall. It's a deal that is even worse than the original deal Democrats agreed to back in summer of 2018. Back then, before Trump's temper tantrum, the Democrats had agreed to spend $1.6 billion for 65 miles of fencing.
At the El Paso rally, Trump even slipped up and explained that he was the one responsible for the longest shutdown in government history, saying "If we didn't do that shutdown, we wouldn't have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world, what the hell is happening with the border."
Even if the Democrats and the Republicans manage to avoid another shutdown, even if they get Trump to sign the bill capping wall funding at $1.375 billion, it might not matter.
Trump says he's building the wall anyway, and told the El Paso crowd that they should chant "Finish the Wall" because he's already built a lot of it. In fact, he's gotten started building about 14 new feet of wall (out of a 2000-mile border).
It seems Trump understands the truth about as poorly as he understands that Congress controls the purse strings.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.