“Both sides in Washington must simply come together, listen to each other, put down their armor, build trust, reach across the aisle, and find solutions.”
President Donald Trump said that on Saturday in a brief televised appeal to the nation.
This is the sound of one hand clapping.
I would call the Saturday night televised address to the nation by Donald Trump the most presidential performance he has ever given.
The bar is low. He stayed on script. He kept it short. He kept his snorting problem under control. There was no bragging and little dog-whistle racism in it. (You can find it if you squint, but, contrary to the usual string of offensive taunts, it would mostly be in the eye of the beholder.)
To be clear, I’m fine with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response: If you want to negotiate on these issues, reopen the government and we’ll see if we can find common ground. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to have done well with their strategy so far. And Trump is learning that everything is not up to him.
But sticking to their announced tactic is not the most important principle in the world. If Trump and the leadership of both parties in both houses had a side conversation and came to some kind of agreement that would soon lead to the end of the shutdown, that would be fine too, and much better for the laid-off federal employees. If that happened, the details of the compromise would quickly be more important than the preconditions to the conversation/negotiation. And “Chuck and Nancy” seem to have succeeded in teaching Trump that he is not the ruler of all he surveys, and that’s progress and that’s good. Since their strategy seems to be moving things in a constructive direction, I’m content to see what they do next.
For reasons that are hard for me to grasp, but which seem reflected in the Coulter tweet linked above, elements of Trump’s base prefer the shutdown and the punishment of use of innocent federal employees and contractors as hostages to negotiations. Perhaps they missed the results of the midterms and haven’t figured out that House Democrats can now block any Trump initiative.
Perhaps they aren’t as obsessed as your humble reporter is with Trump’s approval ratings, but I’ll save myself writing a separate update on those. Look here. The latest fivethirtyeight.com average is 40 percent approval, 55.2 percent disapproval.
This is not his all-time lowest, but it’s the lowest he has been in a year and, if you believe the 538 guys who compile the average know what they’re doing, the gap between approvers and disapprovers has grown every day for a month. The movement has been a slow but steady. Drip, drip, drip.