President Trump announced Friday his willingness to end the shutdown for three weeks. During that time, he will use the State of the Union and other events to build pressure for a wall. In the words of Bill O’Reilly, “Political chess game continues. President Trump reopens government — a good thing. Gives Dems three weeks to make a border security deal. Reasonable. Advantage Trump today.”
One is left to ponder how a more than month-long government shutdown that left federal workers unpaid was not enough to get a border security deal from the Democrats, but opening the government for three weeks will suddenly get them to the table.
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The reality is that Democrats committed to a single idea. They needed to show they could make the president cave so they could make him look weak even to the president’s own base. They succeeded in doing just that.
The man who makes the best deals hoisted a white flag, which is an impossible event according to his hagiographers. After all, he fights.
Trump could now attempt an emergency declaration. A White House official tells me the argument is under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. That provision requires the federal government to protect the several states from invasion. The president views the various migrant caravans and other border crossings as an invasion and will act to stop them.
Some of the president’s advisers believe this is a non-justiciable issue, meaning the federal courts will not be able to interfere with such action. It seems more likely another federal judge would issue an injunction to any action securing the border, tying this up in litigation for a long time. In other words, an emergency declaration would be creatively surrendering while giving the president the opportunity to blame judges.
A month ago, Trump intended to do exactly what he is now doing, i.e. fund the government with no border security funding. After being blasted by conservatives, the president walked that back and doubled down, causing a shutdown. Polling shows the public holds the president — not Democrats — responsible. The public has good reason to do so considering that Trump, on camera, said he would own shutting the government down.
This is Trump's weakest moment
This is undoubtedly the weakest moment of President Trump’s tenure in office. He handed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a win by agreeing to postpone the State of the Union address and handed her a second win by caving on the government shutdown. The president may be the commander in chief of the American military, but Nancy Pelosi now looks like the commander in chief of Donald Trump. He has upset his relationship with Republicans just before the Mueller report comes out and on the day Roger Stone gets hauled off to jail.
Shortly after Trump made his announcement that the government would reopen, various pro-Trump pundits rushed out to praise the president’s leadership. Like O’Reilly, they seem to think this is a brilliant bit of strategy. Of course, they likely do not really think that. Behind the scenes, many of them feel betrayed and realize the president caved and looks weak. This highlights part of the problem that got the president into this mess in the first place.
The people Trump more often than not listens to would rather treat the president with worshipful reverence than give him candid advice. That cacophony of sycophancy has not only brought this presidency to its lowest point, but also ensured the wall they all want will never be built. This president, moving into 2020, needs less sycophants on speed dial and more hard nosed advisers who have his best interests, not their access to him, at heart.
Erick Erickson is editor of The Resurgent and host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump caved to Nancy Pelosi on shutdown, now the wall will never be built