One of the worst mental habits in today’s political coverage is the bias you sometimes see toward presuming that President Trump possesses hidden mystical political powers. This is especially pronounced in the immigration debate: While it is true that he won in 2016 after campaigning on the issue, there was no reason to believe he had really identified a deep strain of angst about immigration and, indeed, when he closed out the midterms campaign on a message of hate and xenophobia, Republicans suffered an epic wipe-out at the polls.
When the president shut down the government over the wall, his allies widely chanted once again that hidden public sentiment would lift him to victory. But Trump slid in the polls, and now he’s officially caved:
President Trump on Friday announced a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on his demand for border wall money, handing Democrats a major victory in the protracted standoff.
The pact, announced by Trump from the Rose Garden at the White House, would reopen shuttered government departments for three weeks while leaving the issue of $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall to further talks.
Congress will now pass funding for the government through Feb. 15, with border-security funding continuing at current levels — but with no money for Trump’s border wall. House and Senate leaders will enter into conference negotiations over a longer-term funding bill for the Homeland Security Department.
Which gives Democrats a real opening to seize control of this debate — not just to score another political victory, but to put their own stamp on the conversation over immigration and the border, and push it in a much more constructive direction.
At his announcement on Friday, the president vowed that he would keep fighting for his wall. “We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
By Greg Sargent for THE WASHINGTON POST
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