Whatever you think of Trump’s address from the Oval Office—a ransom note read without feeling or a presidential speech worthy of primetime from the Oval Office—it’s clear that Trump has dug. He’s evolved all he’s going to, inching towards a steel barrier from a concrete wall. Parse the speech and every word since and Trump‘s left himself no way out. As long as those voters still won’t abandon him no matter whom he shoots, he thinks he’s fine in the corner he’s painted himself into.
This is a position outside of any known negotiating technique. One Trump supporter and former aide who frequently talks to the president said the author of The Art of the Deal would have put a number in an envelope in the West Wing of the amount he would accept that would allow him to declare victory. But the envelope, like the wall, at this point is metaphorical. The person who knows where it is has left the White House.
No matter, Trump is in no mood to compromise, despite saying Tuesday he could solve the impasse in a 45-minute meeting. He stomped out of a meeting with Democrats in the situation room before a half-hour was up because Democrats wouldn’t put a new offer on the table and because he believes he has the Senate solidly behind him. Tell that to Sens. Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, who have already gone rogue. And despite Sen. Mitch McConnell emerging from witness protection to criticize partisan Democrats, the trend line, as the government shutdown moves from wreaking havoc on federal workers to harming businesses and the broader economy, is toward more defections. Every local news channel is covering workers out of a paycheck. Wait until the stories turn to TSA agents missing weapons at airport security. Imagine if romaine lettuce were causing a breakout of e coli infections as it did over Thanksgiving—but now with no FDA to pinpoint the farms responsible. I see a massive shift to iceberg until this mess is over.