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Opinion

Full court press

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

So Trump relented, and opened the US government even without money for his stupid wall, after all.

What is interesting is how the press, Trump's self-avowed enemy, has characterized his decision. Reading the headlines, it's enough to make one cringe. And the opprobrium heaped upon him by journalists and editors is precisely why I would have thought he wouldn't have agreed in the first place. Trump’s pride wasn't just pricked; it was repeatedly stabbed to bloody bits!

His arch-enemy, CNN, immediately blared: "Pelosi brought Trump to his knees". That screamer evokes triumph and defeat. Talk about dominance! Many stories end with a loser kneeling before his conqueror, swearing fealty or apologizing abjectly. Of course Trump never kneeled in front of Pelosi, but CNN harks to this storyline by ascribing this overly-dramatic scenario.

In the same vein, but less epic, website FiveThirtyEight's headline: “Why Trump Blinked”. BBC News had the same idea: "US shutdown: Four reasons why Trump blinked". While milder, the allusion to blinking still calls to mind those silly staring contests that people sometimes employ to prove dominance. Whoever blinks first loses. And here, Trump was cast in the loser mold.

Global News called it a "caving". ("Donald Trump caves, announces deal to temporarily re-open U.S. government"). That refers to the idiomatic expression of "caving in", alluding to a structure collapsing (like a wall?). Again, this expression calls to mind defeat, or yielding to greater pressure.

(Hilariously, the jokesters poked fun at Trump, remarking that he asked for a wall, but instead got a cave.)

The Guardian was kinder, describing his action as waving the white flag. ("Trump raises white flag as shutdown gambit fails gradually, then suddenly"). That colored his action as one being made in peace, or invoking thoughts of chivalry and nobility. Good thing it wasn't a white towel, which every boxing fan knows comes at the point when a boxer is blinking away copious blood from his forehead and swaying on his knees.

But these newspapers were nothing to Anne Coulter's venom, who essentially called him a coward. In her tweet, she congratulated George Bush for no longer being the biggest wimp ever to serve as president. Now, that insult, especially coming from a woman, is certain to enrage Trump, who likes women to be pliable and decorative.

Given these headlines and the public reaction, which blames him for the shutdown, it would be good to keep in mind the deal is only temporary. If one were insulted in this manner, the natural reaction expected from the ultra-sensitive Trump would be to bristle and fume, if not to throw a tantrum.

This deal only gives three weeks for Americans to breathe a sigh of relief and believe life is back to normal, before America is sent back to the brink. If negotiations for a more permanent budget fail again, then Trump's probable game plan (combined with his infamous temper) is to stridently pin all the blame for another shutdown on Democrats.

This time, he'll be able to say that he had already extended the olive branch to them, and allowed reopening the government, that he had been promised that negotiations would be in good faith, and ultimately successful during the three weeks. Naturally, he will say he had been tricked into agreeing, and moving forward he would no longer accept responsibility for the next shutdown. It will no longer be a Trump, but a democratic shutdown. At least, that's his spin.

Will the press and the public buy it? Depends on what's the mood at the moment. And a lot can happen in three weeks. Another tycoon can pass away. Another billionaire can get divorced. And Robert Mueller might unveil his next prosecution. Which might just reveal proof of an impeachable offense. (I can dream, can't I?)

 

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