The Universal Notebook: Trump's wall nuts

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Make no mistake, President Donald. J. Trump and his MAGA-hatted wall nuts are to blame for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Trump has been willing to make millions suffer unnecessary financial hardship and place the entire country in danger, simply to appease his dwindling base of supporters who demand a border wall.

On the eve of his shutdown, Trump told Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “I’m not going to blame you for it.” Of course, he promptly did.

The ostensible reason for the shutdown is a crisis at the border. But there is no crisis at the southern border. In 2000, 1.6 million people were apprehended trying to cross the border illegally. Last year, fewer than 400,000 were caught. In 2017, arrests at the border were the fewest they had been since 1971.

The only crisis Trump faces is a legal challenge to the legitimacy of his presidency and a concomitant erosion of public support. Trump’s approval rating has dropped from 42 percent to 34 percent, as the vast majority of Americans disapprove of both his wall and his shutdown.

Why has this happened? Republicans and Democrats had worked out a continuing budget resolution that did not include $5.7 billion for a wall. Trump had signaled his willingness to sign it, but then the president who spends eight hours a day watching television saw his “friends” in the media calling him names.

Ann Coulter called him “a sociopath” and his “a joke presidency.” Rush Limbaugh complained that “Trump gets nothing and Democrats get everything.” And Trump’s phone pals on “Fox & Friends” said he would “look like a loser” if he didn’t get money for his wall.

“We have two talk-radio show hosts who basically influenced the president, and we’re in a shutdown mode,” observed Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, of Trump’s turnaround. “It’s just – that’s tyranny, isn’t it?”

Since then Trump has stomped around like a petulant child, threatening to invoke emergency powers when there is no emergency, creating his own emergency by shutting down the government in a fit of pique. On Friday, Trump caved and decided to reopen the government for three weeks without getting a nickel for his wall.

The dysfunction in Congress means Americans must flip the Senate in 2020 as they did the House in 2018. Here in Maine, that means we cannot allow Sen. Susan Collins to represent us any longer.

Collins called the shutdown “the ultimate failure to govern” and then voted for Trump’s wall before voting for a Democratic bill to open the government for two weeks without funding the wall. Both measures failed. Collins only crosses the aisle when it won’t make any difference.

Thinking that he could force Democrats to fund his wall by shutting down the government, Trump painted himself into a corner, not caring who got hurt as long as he got his. Now it’s time for someone to teach him a lesson, and it looks as though that someone may be Pelosi, a much smarter and tougher politician than Trump. If not Pelosi, then Robert Mueller.

If this shutdown has made one thing perfectly clear, it is that Trump needs to be removed from office as soon as possible by any legal means – ballot, impeachment, resignation or, my preference, a 25th Amendment finding of inability to discharge the duties of the presidency.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.