Government’s value is demonstrated

The Roman historian Suetonius claimed that Emperor Caligula made his horse Incitatus a priest and considered appointing the animal a Roman consul. It’s good to know that our presidential electors were not alone in their misjudgments, although it should be noted that horses have many good qualities that Donald Trump lacks. For one thing, most horses do not paint themselves into corners.

We need a dealmaker to settle the shutdown, which lets out Trump. He is the wrong man for making deals. It’s hard to think of anyone who has committed not just such an unforced error against himself but against his whole team—the United States—except perhaps Roy Riegels, who ran the wrong way in the 1929 Rose Bowl.

We are told that Trump’s original decision to avoid a shutdown was reversed after he saw himself being castigated by Fox & Friends and by Rush Limbaugh for not being willing to demand the wall above all other considerations, such as wisdom or prudence. That is wholly unsurprising. One of the features of Trump’s personality that makes it difficult for him to put together a deal is that when someone baits him, he cannot resist taking the bait, even when it’s waved under his nose by a pack of blowhards with no political savvy and no skin in the game. It’s easy for them to stand off at a safe distance and egg on the players, but Trump did not have to listen to them.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. … I will take the mantle,” Trump told Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer. “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

That lasted just long enough for the potato to get hot, then Trump started looking around for someone to hand it off to, tweeting things like, “If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!” and “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!” He has a lot of exclamation points in his desk tray.

Only Trump made the wall an issue as big as it is, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, who have been blamed for past shutdowns and wanted no part of this one, nor the Democrats, who actually care about whether government functions, nor his own administrators. Only Donald Trump. And where does he get off? It’s the job of Congress to set the nation’s spending priorities. Presidents merely recommend. And no president previously has sat down on a sidewalk, beat his fists on the pavement and refused to move unless he gets his way.

What has the wall got to do with alternative energy, prisons or agriculture? Nothing that we can see, but the Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Agriculture are all shut down.

Security aid to the Palestinian Authority, food safety money to the Food and Drug Administration, affordable housing money for low-income families in the U.S., airport safety funds are all faltering. The federal flood insurance program is out of commission, so homeowners are turning to more expensive commercial firms.

And as always happens, to the dismay of Republicans, the public is discovering why it needs government. Thanks, Don.