“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!” –President Donald Trump via Twitter
Dearest Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only one who needs to be careful. President Trump has entered into the defining moment of his de facto re-election campaign: the ongoing government shutdown gambit.
Yes, the election is nearly two years away, and a lot can and will certainly happen. But if the end result of his gamesmanship doesn’t result almost immediately in barrier-building shovels planted in the ground, it will take a near miracle to resurrect him from the political dead come 2020. He’ll be as weakened as George H.W. Bush was after violating his “read my lips: no new taxes” vow. You can’t give a national address about a border crisis and then not take the substantive action necessary to cure it.
Remember, Trump narrowly won the election in 2016 with the help of a blindfolded, Hail Mary pass by the base to begin with. Many voted for him with all the enthusiasm of a sad country song, deciding that his brand of crazy was still better than corrupt Hillary. To paraphrase Garth Brooks, they found a friend in a low place.
And it hasn’t been for nothing. The Gorsuch and Kavanaugh nominations made the slumming seem like a worthy sacrifice. Life is messy sometimes. If crazy is what it took to clean up some of that mess, so be it.
But then there is Obamacare, an ever-present monolithic stench of promises unkept, and the opposite reaction kicks in: Man, I voted for this dude and all I got was this lousy temporary tax cut. Where the heck is that nutty orange rogue I shamed myself into voting for in order to get my country back?
It’s been an uncomfortable, um, romance at times. All romances are, to some extent, though, and every successful marriage has a way of tolerating the less-than-ideal in order to claim the greater good — until there is no greater good any more, after politicians go weak in the knees once the resistance resists. This is the temptation Trump must push back at all costs, whether it comes from the GOP’s cave caucus on Capitol Hill or the batting eyelashes of “but Daddy” from Javanka in the West Wing. Mark my words: If Trump gets weak in the knees and shovels don’t break ground along the Rio Grande when this is over, they’ll be used for burying Trump’s 2020 plans in a shallow political grave instead.
See, here’s the thing. You can be weak or you can be crazy, but you can’t be both weak and crazy. The American people are willing to tolerate a singular systemic weakness in their politicians if they decide the alternative is intolerable. However, if your fatal flaws become plural, they tend to go with any alternative when given the chance.
Crazy can be tolerated if it’s going to kick some arse now and then, like the gunslinging quarterback who always makes the highlight reel. Weakness can be tolerated if the trains mostly run on time, like a game-manager quarterback who doesn’t don’t do anything stupid to lose the game.
But if you’re both crazy and weak, you’re no quarterback at all — you’ve cucked yourself.
This is Trump’s “win or go home” moment. He’d better win, or the odds will soar that he’ll eventually be sent home. To paraphrase the late, great Margaret Thatcher, “This is no time to go wobbly, Donald.”
Steve Deace is broadcast nationally every day on BlazeTV. He is the author of the book “Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives Believe (To Our Own Demise).”