As recently as last week, Donald Trump seemed preoccupied with building a giant wall along the U.S./Mexico border, mentioning the idea 17 times during a campaign rally in Phoenix.
"We are building a wall on the southern border," the president said, adding, "Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall.... We're going to have our wall. We're going to get our wall.... Believe me, one way or the other, we're going to get that wall."
What he neglected to mention was the part of his grand plan in which Mexico pays for the whole project. Indeed, the fact that Trump is tying his promise to a possible government shutdown next month suggests the president is committed to us paying for it.
Two days later, the Washington Post ran a piece with a helpful headline: "Sorry, Trump supporters: The White House clearly isn't going to make Mexico pay for that wall."
The White House isn't even pretending that Mexico is going to pay for that wall anymore. [...]Reporters pressed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday about why Trump would insist upon Congress funding something that Mexico was supposed to be paying for -- something Trump promised at dozens and dozens of campaign rallies to the delight of his crowds. Huckabee Sanders's responses were telling. Asked four times, she completely declined to reiterate that Mexico would pay for the wall. Each time, she deflected.
And yet, there was Trump yesterday, announcing via Twitter yesterday, "With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other."
The last word in that tweet stands out a bit, doesn't it?
The idea that Americans will foot the bill for a giant border wall, but Trump will get Mexico to reimburse us at some point, is obviously very hard to believe. But what exactly does "other" mean? We are, after all, talking about a U.S. ally and neighbor. Trump intends to get Mexico to pay for a wall by way of a plan he doesn't want to talk about?
Let's not forget the leaked transcript of Trump's private conversation in January with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, in which the American president seemed to understand that Mexico wouldn't pay for the wall -- but he pleaded with Pena Nieto not to admit this to the press, because it would make him look bad.
At this point, however, Trump is doing plenty to make himself look bad.
Postscript: In case the president needed a reminder, Mexico's Foreign Ministry added yesterday afternoon, "Our country will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall."