Trump has yet to master the art of dealing with Democrats in power.
When Trump signed a funding bill on Friday afternoon, it was the third time in less than a month that he backed down and caved to the demands of congressional Democrats.
Trump's surrender on the funding bill capped an eight-week saga of political battles against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. From the outset, he stumbled and was outmaneuvered by Democrats at every single turn.
In mid-December, Trump threw his first of many tantrums demanding Congress hand over $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats, fresh off a resounding victory in the November midterm election, balked at the idea, telling him in no uncertain terms that he would not get the money.
In a televised White House meeting, he was easily goaded by Schumer into accepting responsibility for a government shutdown if Democrats refused to pay the $5.7 billion ransom. Trump went so far as to brag that he would be "proud" to own a shutdown.
True to their word, Democrats did not support $5.7 billion for a border wall. And Trump initiated what would become the longest shutdown in government history, lasting 35 days.
When Pelosi took over as speaker of the House in January, one of her first orders of business was to pass a bill to reopen the government. But Trump, enabled by Republican accomplices in the Senate, rebuffed numerous attempts to end the shutdown.
Knowing Trump's love of being on television, Pelosi sent a letter to the White House suggesting that, because of the shutdown, the State of the Union should be postponed until he reopened the government. She offered to work with him on an alternative date, and off-handedly mentioned that Trump could just give his speech from the Oval Office.
In childlike fashion, Trump fumed and forced Pelosi and other members of Congress to cancel a planned trip to Afghanistan by refusing them use of military planes. But Pelosi stood strong and formally rescinded Trump's invitation to give the State of the Union in the House chamber. Trump caved, giving in to Pelosi's demand.
Two days after his first surrender, Trump suffered a humiliating defeat as he was forced to sign a bill reopening the government without a single penny for the border wall he is so obsessed with. But the funding was temporary, giving Congress three weeks to work together on a long-term funding bill. If there was no agreement, then the government would shut down at midnight on Friday, Feb. 15.
Trump did everything he could to threaten, beg, and plead with Congress to get $5.7 billion for a wall. Instead, the bill Trump signed Friday afternoon, in his third surrender to Democratic demands, contains less than $1.4 billion for not a wall, but some fencing in limited areas along the Texas border. In fact, it is less funding than Democrats were willing to agree to before the shutdown.
In a transparent attempt to distract from his string of failures, Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border. The White House argues that with this declaration, Trump can pilfer money from the military to build his wall, without the approval of Congress.
Democrats have been in charge of one half of one branch of government for a month and a half. And in that time, they have already forced Trump to give in to their demands on three major issues.
Despite Trump's boasts of being the world's greatest dealmaker, he has yet to master the art of dealing with Democrats in power.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.