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Assault on America, Day 20: Shutdown blame game a mundane prelude to 2020 fireworks show

Trump tweet on shutdown










Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars. And when the wars were over, no one ever knew what they were about.” -- Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind.

This famous classic movie quote came to mind recently as the chattering class mindlessly droned on about which party will end up taking most of the “blame” for causing the record-setting federal government shutdown (25% of the workforce, or around 800,000 employees). Polls waver a bit but a preponderance of Americans apparently fault President Donald Trump for the blackout with congressional Democrat leaders following behind. It really depends on whether you like Trump or not -- and since a majority of citizens allegedly don’t, he gets the responsibility…for now.

Though not exactly a “war,” the impasse between Republicans and Democrats qualifies as a serious dispute with the two sides trading rhetorical blows and inflicting psychological wounds as though they were fencers thrusting and parrying in the heat of a duel. It’s safe to say, by the time this is over people may not even recall what the fight was originally about.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, the parties are fighting over a few billion dollars, a mere pittance in the gigantically bloated federal budget. There’s really not much to see here other than Nancy Pelosi acting witchy, petty and bitter. The woman won’t even negotiate.

As would be expected from news personnel searching for anything potentially noteworthy to pen stories on, there’s much speculation as to who will suffer (at future ballot boxes) for forcing involuntary furloughs on our always up to the task federal workers.

Susan Ferrechio reported at The Washington Examiner, “[A]t least one survey that asks about the congressional GOP’s responsibility for the shutdown, independently of Trump, shows that the public might give them a pass this time.

“A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted Jan. 9-11 questioned 1,470 adults about who they believe is responsible for the standoff and government closures. Only 3 percent blamed congressional Republicans. A plurality blamed Trump (47 percent) and 30 percent blamed Democrats in the CBS/YouGov survey, while 20 percent blamed ‘all equally’ for the mess.”

Or, here’s still another alternative -- blame the past 80-plus years for the vast growth of the federal government to the point where citizens believe there’s supposedly a problem with a government work stoppage. But if 800,000 people don’t go to work (or in some cases work without pay) and no one notices, do ordinary citizens share the blame?

Ferrechio’s report indicated Republicans strongly support President Trump’s stance and Democrats are equally steadfast behind their own congressional head honchos, so there’s really no end in sight to the verbal carnage (because there’s no impetus for either side to budge). Could we be talking about a months’ (or years)-long shutdown? It’d be fascinating to see. By then, would anyone remember what it was all about or just assume it was a pi--ing match between Pelosi, creepy “Chucky” Schumer and Trump?

At the same time, phew! What a relief! House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy isn’t being politically wounded by the shutdown! Perhaps it’s because the public sees McCarthy as a rather affable but doltish basic establishment Republican (kind of how Paul Ryan was thought of), or maybe people just don’t know him well enough yet; or could it be because McCarthy’s viewed as so inconsequential he doesn’t register on the public radar at all?

It turns out Paul Ryan skedaddled just in time, “retiring” to his native Wisconsin instead of enduring the embarrassingly lesser status of House Minority Leader. Nancy Pelosi seemingly didn’t mind being the lower chamber’s utterly powerless “leader” for eight long years -- but she was just biding her time until she could be the top gal brandishing the gavel once again. In McCarthy’s case he’s going on TV and mumbling a bunch of nonsensical platitudes instead of borrowing a page from Trump’s combat book and getting out front and demanding a border wall.

McCarthy’s not known for being overly articulate, so maybe he should simply begin and end every sentence with “we need a wall.” Here’s a sample for him: McCarthy: “We need a wall because thousands of illegal and potentially dangerous migrants cross the border every day, taking jobs, consuming scarce government resources, bringing drugs and disease in some cases…and that’s why we need a wall.”

This way perhaps McCarthy could grow into someone who stands for something other than filling the Republicans’ next-in-line’s shoes and de facto leader of the GOP swamp contingent. Here’s thinking Republicans already regret not anointing Jim Jordan to lead the minority caucus because the feisty Ohioan would at least be visible and battle the hopelessly unpopular Pelosi and the most heinous members of the Democrat kook fringe.

As last week demonstrated (with Trump’s “postponement” of Pelosi and House Dems’ overseas “excursion”) the president is teaching his party how to fight -- but will they ever learn?

Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell’s doing his part by refusing to consider House-passed budgets that omit wall funding. But will the upper chamber’s small but vocal RINO caucus force his hand at some point? Time will tell. For now, it looks like Trump and Pelosi alone are engaged in a jousting contest to determine who’ll fall off the horse first. If San Fran Nan really cared about the plight of all those poor federal workers she represents, shouldn’t she just give Trump a couple billion for a barrier and then move on to telling fibs and bloviating over climate change and Medicare for all?

Sooner rather than later Americans will forget about all this and there’s no way it’ll be an issue when the two parties draw battle lines late next year ahead of the all-important presidential election. Do you think a debate moderator’s even going to ask a shutdown related question at that time? How would the Democrat nominee reply?

Still, there are those who maintain Trump’s playing with fire by sustaining the shutdown mambo dance. Noted poll analyst Nate Silver wrote at (New York Times), “The partial government shutdown is beginning to drag on President Trump’s approval rating, which is at its lowest point in months. As of early Wednesday evening, his approval rating was 40.2 percent, according to our tracking of public polling, down from 42.2 percent on Dec. 21, the day before the shutdown began…

“There’s plenty of time for Trump’s numbers to improve, but for now, they’re getting worse. So while the shutdown’s consequences may not last into 2020, it has been another step in the wrong direction at a moment when presidents have usually pivoted to the center.”

Silver’s well-reasoned piece also presents the “it won’t matter 22 months from now” side of the argument. But Silver also cautions that Trump is uniquely polarizing compared with past presidents, so who knows what’ll happen? History didn’t predict Trump in 2016 and it’s surely not a foregone conclusion that 2020 will fall in line with past precedent either.

We’re living in uncertain times. Americans don’t possess the longest memories for this shutdown -- or any other -- and it doesn’t matter who people “blame” for the deadlock now.

Not only will Trump be running versus the future Democrat nominee (and it’s not exactly a huge collection of winners vying for the honor) but also against the specters of Pelosi and Schumer. Even if Trump eventually declares a national emergency to build the wall (and win in court, too), he’ll get credit for doing what he promised. Americans aren’t so docile and passive that they won’t recognize effective politics when they see it.

There’s definitely a chance this government shutdown goes on so long people forget how or why it started and all that’s left are Trump and Democrat leaders squabbling over who’s at fault. Ultimately the American people will decide between them -- and time is on Trump’s side.

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