During a campaign rally Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads a statement made by Michelle Fields, on March 29, 2016 in Janesville, Wis.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Trump insists he has a shutdown ‘plan’ (which no one else has seen)


It seems painfully obvious at this point that Donald Trump stumbled into a government shutdown with no idea how to resolve it. That, alas, was 24 days ago – at the start of the longest shutdown in American history.

For his part, the president has heard the chatter about his non-existent strategy, and over the weekend, he pushed back against the charge in a notable way. In a pair of tweets, Trump wrote:

“I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is ‘chaotic, there does not seem to be a strategy for this Shutdown. There is no plan.’ The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there’s almost nobody in the W.H. but me, and I do have a plan on the Shutdown.

“But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!”

First, the idea that Trump believes there’s no “chaos” in the White House because there’s no one there working is kind of hilarious.

Second, while it’s true that the president ran on a platform of building a wall, it’s also true that he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, which makes it awfully difficult to claim the American electorate endorsed his sparse platform. For that matter, if the president agrees that elections have consequences, he might want to take a fresh look at the results from the national congressional elections from two months ago – the one in which House Democrats won their biggest victory since the Watergate era.

But I’m especially interested in the idea that Trump really does, all evidence to the contrary, “have a plan on the shutdown.” Evidently, it’s a secret plan, because the president hasn’t told anyone – including his own White House staff – what it is.

“Inside the White House, officials privately acknowledge that the president dove into this fight with no clear end game,” the New York Times  reported over the weekend.

A Politico  report added, “Washington has been wrestling with this funding mess for more than a month now. White House aides have been making it up as they go along.”

A separate Politico report went on to note that close White House advisers and staff “remain in the dark” about how their boss might try to end the shutdown. The article quoted a Republican close to the White House who said, “No one knows what he will do, and the president has not decided yet, so it keeps everyone guessing.”

And yet, there was Trump, assuring the public, “I do have a plan on the shutdown.” If the strategy involves driving away the American mainstream and unifying Democrats, the plan is working beautifully.