The Strange Tale of the Former Casino Owner Who Can’t Play Poker


Days into a partial government shutdown that has left tens of thousands of federal workers furloughed, President Donald Trump and his close allies have begun feeling more confident about the political perch they occupy.

In their eyes, a prolonged stalemate will likely fracture voters along traditional partisan lines, and the ultimate outcome will be a debate waged largely on the president’s terms. Increasingly, they see an upside in forcing likely incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have to spend the first days, if not weeks, of the next Congress engaged in an argument over border wall funding rather than her preferred agenda: a mix of sweeping ethics and election reforms and congressional oversight. And they continue to believe that a conversation around immigration and border security is in the president’s best political interests.

Even better, according to Politico, Trump’s people think that the shutdown fight will distract Democrats from investigating Trump. Of course, these are the same people who managed the recent war zone visit fiasco. Being able to walk and chew gum at the same time is, one suspects, beyond their comprehension.

What hand is Trump holding? Especially when polls tell us the public blames Trump for the shutdown, the public disagrees with Trump’s funding ultimatum, and the public does not support building the bleeping wall. And even a writer for the right-wing Washington Examiner admitted that “border security and the migrant caravan, were big losers with critical voting blocs, and largely responsible for the late-breaking Democratic wave that swept Republicans from power in the House.” So, basically, this is what they’re betting on.

Dems are callling Trump’s bluff.

House Democrats — increasingly convinced they’re winning the shutdown fight with President Donald Trump — are plotting ways to reopen the government while denying the president even a penny more for his border wall when they take power Jan. 3.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants are considering several options that would refuse Trump the $5 billion he’s demanded for the wall and send hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work, according to senior Democratic sources.

While the strategy is fluid, House Democrats hope to pass a funding bill shortly after members are sworn in. They believe that would put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to follow suit. And they’re confident that their political leverage will only increase the longer the shutdown lasts — a notion that some GOP leaders privately agree with.

Indeed, the specter of a lengthy shutdown could hurt Trump’s already damaged image more than it would Democrats — especially because he claimed ownership of the crisis two weeks ago. Democrats believe the shutdown battle — combined with the volatility in financial markets and special counsel Robert Mueller closing in on Trump — exacerbates the appearance of a cornered president acting out of his own political self-interest instead of the needs of the American public.

See, for example, Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve Party Despite Trump’s Shutdown. See also House Dems Beef Up Legal Teams For Various And Wide-Ranging Trump Probes.

I also agree with Paul Waldman:

So the only answer may be for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, to ignore President Trump. Act as though he doesn’t exist and this has nothing to do with him.

By which I mean that members of Congress should shut their ears to Trump’s tweets and threats and fulminations, pass something that House Democrats and Senate Republicans can live with, and then dare Trump to veto it. Because I doubt he has the guts.

Why would Republicans go along with this?

This plan of shutting out the White House requires only one person’s cooperation: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If he were to decide it’s the best way forward, he and Nancy Pelosi could work out the details in an afternoon. Fortunately, McConnell is utterly unemotional and completely cynical. He doesn’t particularly care about whether Trump is happy, or whether the president gets a “win.” McConnell’s only real concern is maintaining his own, and the GOP’s, hold on power in the Senate. If he decides that the best way to do that is to end this shutdown and dial back the state of permanent crisis, that’s what he’ll do.

I don’t think we’re there yet, though, and I say this because the Official Republican Party Weathervane, Miz Lindsey Graham, is still vowing “No wall money, no deal.”

Even so, it should be beyond obvious, even to members of Congress, that Trump cannot be reasoned with and cannot be dealt with.

The only way to deal with Donald Trump is to not do deals with Donald Trump. The private sector has learned this; when will Congress?

For his entire career, our dealmaker in chief has relied on a not-so-secret technique for extracting supposedly good deals: He agrees to a given set of terms and then, at the last minute, reneges on them.

He has done this to small businesses around the country, refusing to pay for cabinetry, catering, real estate commissions, and other goods and services after they’ve already been delivered. His companies have also filed for bankruptcy six times, helping him wriggle out of bills. Given this reputation, it’s hardly surprising that vendors and lenders alike ultimately learned it was wiser not to do business with him at all, rather than count on him to keep his word.

See also The shutdown is intractable because Trump’s wall is ridiculous and Republicans know it and Has the GOP retreated into a world of make-believe? The shutdown debate will tell us.

10 thoughts on “The Strange Tale of the Former Casino Owner Who Can’t Play Poker

  1. We have been here before. In October, 2013 the Republican Congress under pressure from the Tea Party shut down government to force the repeal of Obamacare. Shall we look back to the results of that for guidance here?

    "A Gallup poll conducted during the first week of the shutdown found that the percentage of Americans with a favorable opinion of the Republican Party had fallen to the lowest level for either party since Gallup began measuring party favorability in 1992, with only 28% of Americans saying they now had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, down 10 points from September, before the shutdown. The Democratic Party had a 43% favorable rating, down 4 points from the previous month."

    If you want to recall, the GOP was faced with over 80% disapproval over the shutdown and they were taking the blame. They folded – Bitch McConnell led the retreat. In this case, Trump bragged that he'd take responsability and not blame Scheumer (which they have already reversed themselves on, but the video is there.) Starting January 3, the DNC needs to buy air time in every major market and play Trump's statement nonstop with the only commentary the CR the House should pass on day one that funds border security at existing levels. Make the argument simple. This is Trump's shutdown – the Democrats aren't asking for anything new. (We're willing to negotiate for 'new' – is Trump willing to put DACA on the table?)

    I'm cynical about Pelosi in many areas, but she's a savy strategist. Trump recognized that the shutdown was a looser but goaded by The Great White Whale of radio and Fox News, Trump engaged in a battle he should have avoided. It can be his Waterloo. I actually trust Nancy to inflict maximum damage on Trump for this fiasco.


  2. Life in "The Conservative Bubble" must be grand!

    Especially when it seems like the gases that keep their bubble afloat have to be  a combination of laughing-gas and 2nd-hand pot smoke!

    How else do you explain the Republican's blindness to reality, all while maintaining their clueless optimism?  Yeah, I know: A complete disregard for math, science, and human nature.

    If tRUMP gave out paper cups of Jim Jones' left-over Kool-Aid to Congressional Republicans, there'd be precious few who wouldn't die right after kissing his ass in gratitude, and downing the poison in one gulp!

    Nancy will figure out what to do and how to do it.

    She and the rest of the D's will write a bill aimed not for tRUMP's approval, but Mitch's.  tRUMP's a feckin' eedjit.  Mitch ain't.  And he might want to embarrass tRUMP in revenge for tRUMP embarrassing him last week.

    The bill probably won't be too different from the CR the House and Senate passed last week, and gave to tRUMP to sign – whereupon the piggy P*OTUS had one of greatest hissy-pissy fits in American presidential history!

    Mitch  will make some adjustments, and pass it back to Nancy.  Then the two, and Schumer, will meet,  and come to a veto-proof agreement which will pass fairly easily – imo – and Emp-ERROR tRUMP will be left nekkid, with his big fat ass, and his tiny limp orange d*ck exposed for all the world to see, and laugh at!!!!!

  3. Pelosi (and probably Mitch McConnell – the pros) are going to put their heads together and figure out how to get this thing done, with or without Trump.

    Trump reminds me too much of an old Star Trek episode, The Squire of Gothos, particularly the ending, which went something like this. “But I was winning, you saw it!!!”

  4. ”No wall money no deal”

    nancy should reply ok no wall money no deal. You guys don’t want a deal so our border patrol works without pay. How’s that for border security? Not sure why they don’t make trumps base aware of the no pay for border patrol!

  5. Reports are (if youbelieve them) that the administration has floated a 'compromise' of 2.5 billion for the wall. (Half as many slats in the slat wall?) The offer was refused.

    I expect it was a real offer, but Trump reserves the right to claim it wasn't his offer if a) democrats buy it and b) Limbaugh doesn't like it. But if true, it's an indication that the White House is trying to figure out how to get out of the corner Trump painted the administration into.

    My guess is that Trump will punt for the least-bad escape. Trump will arrqange for Republicans in Congress to re-open government with a veto-proof margin. He will blame his defeat on the Congress and continue the rhetoric promising the wall to his base – next week.

  6. Yesterday I posted a comment on the "Your Move, Republicans" post saying that Trump's government shutdown is a bluff, and may be a foreshadowing of impeachment if Trump digs in his heels, which Trump may well do, as he is not a strategic thinker and, while talented, is a political novice.

    Back during the presidential campaign the famous cartoonist, Scott Adams, a Trump cheerleader as well as a student of hypnosis and suggestion, called Trump a Master Persuader. One effective tactic of Trump, according to Adams, was to make statements and suggestions that would later be reinforced by news events. For instance, recent news footage of asylum seekers attempting to breach the border reinforced Trump's claims that criminals were trying to enter the US illegally. Never mind that the same footage could be seen as the US inhumanely tear-gassing children, it still bolstered Trump's claims by those who were inclined to believe them. 

    But that same tactic will backfire on Trump over the government shutdown. If the shutdown continues long enough, there will be news stories about the bad effects of the shutdown, coupled with claims that Trump caused the shutdown, possibly with footage of Trump threatening the shutdown and taking credit for it, which he did on camera. A government shutdown only works if you can get people to believe that your opponents are responsible for it. Trump shot himself in the foot by owning it. If the Democrats refuse to compromise with Trump, this will not end well for him.

  7. Whatever Pelosi and McConnell can come up with, the key for them will be convincing Trump its a win for him, over the fevered outcries from the likes of Rush, Coulter et al.  Unlike Trump and their brain-dead followers, they are smart enough to know that, as border security goes, the wall has little utility, and is really nothing more than a political monument to bigotry.  But that's what they want to hold Trump to, even though they know there’s virtually no political upside to it outside of the base, and actually hurts him insofar as broadening his base goes.

    Trump has to be convinced, with democrats in control in the House, Mueller bearing down and 2020 looming ever larger, that wasting political capital on monuments to bigotry may help him with the bigots but the net effect is not positive, with respect to everything else.

    Question is, does Trump's brain, such as it is, have enough wattage to overwhelm his enormous ego to process that concept and make the right decision. Its doubtful.

  8. Public opinion was overwhelmingly behind democrats in the DACA shutdown too, but that didn't stop them from immediately surrendering.  Also, i need to see evidence that the private sector has learned not to make deals with trump.

    I do agree that trump will sign whatever bill lands on his desk and is thus a nonfactor.  But i don't see any incentive for McConnell to be anything other than an obstructive bitch the whole time.  Hell, he could even block a bill that includes wall funding because blocking stuff is the only thing republicans know how to do.

  9. Evidence that the private sector has learned not to make deals with Trump? How about the fact that no US bank will lend him money anymore? He stiffed them once too often. 

    Trump screws everybody in the end, if he thinks he can profit from doing so.

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