Jan 21, 2018

Endgame on shutdown: Posturing, followed by negotiating

Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Season 1 of the Donald Trump presidency had a cliffhanger ending: The government shuts down on Day 365! Now the "Art of the Deal" author begins Season 2 with taunting cable clocks clicking off the seconds since the shutdown.

What's happening behind the scenes:

  • A senior Republican aide tells me: "The shutdown hardens positions. Folks don’t want to negotiate a deal right now."
  • What's next, from a top Republican lobbyist: "We are likely to have 2 more days of posturing and base-focused messaging before the positioning and negotiating phase opens a path to reopening. An optimist might hope for resolution by Tuesday. Both sides are winning with their respective bases, but even base voters will tire."
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan adds: "Dems have shown their base that they're willing to fight to mat for the Dreamers. Then when the inevitable deal is struck — and Trump gives amnesty to the Dreamers in exchange for modest wall funding — Dems will claim victory and [their] base will love it."
  • Swan says both bases are satisfied for now. But re the GOP: "Can Trump spin amnesty for some modest wall funding? That's gonna be tough."
  • N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin tweets: "Why were most Dems willing to engage in brinksmanship? Because they know the midterms will revolve around Trump."
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on the floor yesterday: "Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O. ... [T]he President can’t make a deal and Congressional Republicans won’t."

Be smart: Most Americans greet shutdowns with a shrug, fully expecting a dysfunctional political system to do dysfunctional things. It's a shame they're right.

P.S. N.Y. Times gem, re a Mar-a-Lago fundraising gala for the first anniversary, with Trump stuck in Washington:

  • "Irritated to have missed his big event in Florida, Mr. Trump spent much of his day watching old TV clips of him berating President Barack Obama for a lack of leadership during the 2013 government shutdown, a White House aide said, seeming content to sit back and watch the show."

How it's playing ... N.Y. Times 2-column lead, "Blame and Bickering Muddy Parties’ Efforts To Resolve Shutdown" ... WashPost 6-column lead, "Sides cast bitter blame over shutdown impasse."

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