U.S. President Donald Trump casts shadows on the wall as he walks with Poland's President Andrzej Duda at the end of a joint press conference, in Warsaw,...
Czarek Sokolowski

Trump’s emergency declaration represents a special kind of surrender

If you spend any time following politics on Twitter, you’ve probably encountered the phrase, “There’s always a tweet.” The expression derives from the fact seemingly every time Donald Trump takes a provocative step, his critics discover a tweet from his recent past in which he’s condemned that same step.

The president’s lengthy Twitter archive, in other words, is little more than an elaborate hypocrisy trap.

Occasionally, however, we’re confronted with extreme examples of the phenomenon. USA Today  noted overnight, for example:

There’s always a tweet.

In 2014, President Donald Trump railed against then President Barack Obama over his use of executive power on immigration. Fast forward five years and Trump is expected to do the same thing.

“Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress,” Trump said in a tweet on Nov. 20, 2014.

It’s those last few words in the tweet that are of particular interest: in Trump’s mind, Obama only took executive actions because he lacked the necessary skills to negotiate with lawmakers. If Obama understood how to strike deals, executive actions on issues like immigration wouldn’t be necessary.

Indeed, it’s common knowledge that Trump sold himself to voters in 2016 as the world’s foremost expert on negotiating and deal-making, but it’s less understood that this also became one of his central lines of attack against the Obama presidency.

The Republican seemed to recognize public frustrations over gridlock in the nation’s capital, so he seized on that to advance his ambitions: Obama lacked the wherewithal to bring people together and negotiate agreements, he argued, but a Trump presidency would deliver where his predecessor fell short. Every executive action from Obama was evidence, Trump said, of the kind of failure that he wouldn’t repeat if elected.

Except, of course, we now know the promise was a sham.

Today’s emergency declaration is many things, but it’s principally an acknowledgement of a defeat. Trump has effectively surrendered. By signing the declaration, the president is admitting that he couldn’t get Mexico to pay for a wall, he couldn’t get Congress to pay for a wall, and he couldn’t turn to his vaunted negotiating skills to achieve his goal – because those skills don’t exist in reality.

An uncomfortable truth has been laid bare: what Trump billed as his greatest strength has proven to be one of his most glaring weaknesses.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump

Trump's emergency declaration represents a special kind of surrender