It seems like just yesterday that Donald Trump, American president, was spreading the gospel of The Wall to our friends across the Atlantic. Well, it was this week that we learned Trump suggested to the Spanish foreign minister that Spain build a wall across the 3,000-mile-wide Sahara Desert. This had the drawback of being fiscally and functionally absurd, not least because Spain has no sovereignty over the Sahara. But it's the thought that counts. Spread the good word.
However, we've also learned this fair Friday that, for all his well-intentioned evangelism, the president has some issues with his wall plans here at home.
Six of the eight prototypes for the president's proposed border wall will need substantial re-design, according to a new government report. During tests, teams were able to break through some of the walls --- and scale others. pic.twitter.com/khgTl2A11Y
- CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) September 21, 2018
Six duds out of eight isn't a great report card, particularly if you ran as The Wall Guy. In a strange wrinkle, CBS reports the flops will undergo "substantial redesign." Couldn't they just pick from one of the two that work? It seems like, if nothing else, a way for the contractors building these things to keep collecting taxpayer checks.
All this is compounded by the fact Trump is currently staging one of his periodic temper tantrums over Congress' steadfast refusal to truly fund his Wall.
Related Video: Senate Passes Spending Bill With No Border Wall Funding
I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
The president is correct in his assessment that the $854 billion spending bill just passed by the Senate is "ridiculous," though perhaps for different reasons than he'd identify. (The bill sets the Pentagon budget for 2019 at $606.5 billion, a $17 billion increase over last year. That's more than the next seven countries combined, many of which are allies, though no one has so far asked "how we're going to pay for this" like they would any initiative that called for more spending on healthcare or education.) Both this and the previous bill largely avoided major border spending commitments, maintaining a $1.6 billion outlay.
Perhaps there was good reason for that. After all, according to The Washington Post, Trump can't quite settle on what's required:
At times Trump has demanded $25 billion for the wall, but a deal giving him that much in exchange for deportation protections for immigrants brought illegally to the country as children fell apart earlier this year, with Democrats blaming the White House and the White House blaming Democrats.
Trump’s current ask for the wall is $5 billion for 2019, but Senate Democrats won’t go along with that figure after striking a deal with Republicans to provide $1.6 billion for 2019, which was the original White House request.
In a true shocker, the confusion is, at least in part, the result of the president's own scatterbrained incompetence.
But earlier this year Trump blew up at aides over the $1.6 billion, saying it was not enough. Former legislative affairs director Marc Short, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and others explained to him that it was what his own budget team asked for. Trump did not understand why they didn’t get more - and seemed unaware of what was in his own administration request, according to the Trump adviser. The president has griped periodically about the Office of Management and Budget request.
Then, at a meeting with congressional appropriators in June, Trump demanded $5 billion, without a clear justification for the number.
Just say anything! $5 billion? $25 billion? Anything goes-and never, under any circumstances, consult anyone with an ounce of expertise. (Here we might make customary mention of the fact that The Wall probably won't do much to stop border-crossers and will do next to nothing to stop the flow of illegal drugs.) Trump had the audacity to suggest in a tweet Friday morning that it is the Democrats who behave as if "facts don't matter." (It came as part of a flood of attempts to undermine Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school, as the dam broke on a week's worth of presidential silence.) In fact, this is a defining feature of Trump's worldview, as evidenced at his rally last night:
"We started the wall a year ago," Trump lies for the 35th time of the wall he has not started. "We've done a lot."
- Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 21, 2018
So he's regularly throwing hissy fits about inadequate funding, but also construction on The Wall is well underway and going great! To someone capable of shame, making these two claims simultaneously would be untenable. For Trump, it's the essence of his being. Reality can be molded to fit your wants and needs, and the truth is whatever you can get enough people to believe. But what happens when people start sledgehammering through his Big, Beautiful Wall?
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