Playing Chicken with America

As I wrote this the president was on the southern border in Texas doing what successful pols do: showing, not orating. In fact, that’s where his recent speech should have been produced. Walking along the border flanked by Border Patrol agents, using talking points but not a script, would have been a helluva lot better than sitting down in front of a teleprompter. It would have contrasted nicely with Chuck and Nancy’s creepy shared podium act.

He’s there not only to buttress his general point on immigration, but also to send a clear signal; he’s not for turning on the budget or the border.

The Dems too are talking big in this national game of chicken. But someone is gonna blink. I think it will be the Dems. The president will stick to his guns because he has too much to lose not to. The Dems can take the hit and keep on their track. Here are the scenarios:

Dem Blink: They know the national polling data on this issue runs against them about 60-40. Even their own voters, especially black voters, aren’t solid here. Dems don’t want the next presidential election to be a referendum on this, as murder by illegal aliens will work as a death of a thousand cuts against them. Every one being showcased by White House political theater. Those caravans are also a never-ending image of Trump’s argument, as they continue to try and bum-rush the border. Today’s unintentionally hilarious CNN report by Acosta, where he, while trying to prove the president has manufactured this controversy, marvels that no illegals are at a point on the border which has a steel fence, only adds to Dem headaches.

As lost paychecks begin to bite federal workers (the vast majority of them Dem voters) who will mightily kvetch to anyone who will listen including their own friendly Dem elected officials, and the Dems get ready to burn Trump in House investigations, they could rationalize blinking as a small drop in a sea of wins like the House takeover, Kavanaugh going south on the recent Planned Parenthood case, and the today-announced Cohen pre-jail (thus adding to the drama) testimony (which they will liken to John Dean’s). Whatever fruit they get out of the various inquisitions against the president is also in play. And no matter what they do the press and the culture will have their six. Though a small number of these airhead cheerleaders may carp about giving in to Trump. Nevertheless, caving will hardly lessen their pace. Though, if the folding comes, the impetus will be from Chuck and Nancy to give others cover.

They could try to spin a deal giving the wall for DACA, as the president has hinted, into a victory. But the base of both sides would feel sold out and the Dems would have traded the limited birds in hand for the scores in the bush.

Dem Hold: Their far left base of aggrieved race hustlers, barren spinsters with cat families, and the Hitler Youth will have a fit if they lose. Expect AOC and her coven to throw tantrums that strain the bounds of sanity. The Dems don’t want this and don’t need the distraction to their Trump-hunting season of the Cohen appearance, etc. They also have boxed themselves into a corner by saying a flat out “No,” thus giving them little room for maneuver and limiting their options but to fight to the bitter end or else take the nasty shot of capitulation. Their ultimate goal of bringing enough illegal voters into Texas to switch it to a Dem state would be delayed if not dealt a mortal blow. Their long-term national strategy relies on turning Texas.

Trump Blink: As the shutdown lasts it’ll effect some middle class Trump voters and/or their friends and relatives. There will be growing pressure from them that will be felt by a now diminished GOP who will have enough on their hands playing defense against House investigations.

The president can be slippery and rationalize a sellout just as he’s switched the message on the “Mexico pays” line and has gone from a wall to now only a “barrier” like a steel fence. Many naturally timid Republicans in Congress could get nervous, some are already beginning to crack, and go public against him. Watch Collins of Maine, she may try to get back in the good graces of the DC establishment after voting yes on the Kavanaugh nomination by abandoning the president. He could also switch the debate to how he’s going to use military funds anyway to pay, so he doesn’t need the said $5 billion.

He’s playing right now with the National Emergency option. But it’s a bad idea. While it would be red meat to the confirmation bias-prone ever-loyal base, the more astute understand you only change the subject when you’re losing the argument. Plus the Dems and many moderates, perhaps legitimately, may see this as a gross overreaction, establishing a national emergency to pursue partisan goals, and the first step down a potentially nasty road. For in other places and other times “national emergencies” have been used for far more sinister reasons.

Trump Hold: Given the info we have today, this is the most likely option for a plethora of reasons. His base would go bonkers ballistic if he folds, comparing him to wuss Republicans of yore. As the base did in 1992 when they were sold out by Bush the Elder breaking his “Read my lips” pledge, they could sit on their hands in 2020.

The president prides himself on keeping his campaign promises and this was a big one. As we noted, right now he is on the border digging in his heels even harder, as he knows a loss could signal blood in the water for the Dems. It would also put him on the backfoot just when he needs all his resources to fight the Hill witchhunts. He also has given himself wiggle room with his much-stated wish to compromise and come to a deal, as opposed to the Dem’s Dr. No routine.

But most of all I don’t think he’ll break because the man, like a modern-day Sam Grant or Andy Jackson, is a natural brawler. It’s personal with him not only to win, but also to not give the Dems the satisfaction of winning. They need to face facts that the guy loves a fight. And if a triumph led right into another success on an RBG replacement by Amy Barrett? Holy merde. The House takeover will lose its sweet fragrance for the Dems, as their main mission will be to stop the hemorrhaging and regain traction before 2020.

Trump knows by forcing the hands of his opponents he can play divide and conquer. We spoke before about the reaction of AOC and her evil Brownie Troop. But it could get a lot worse than that for the Dems. The clod-like multitudes who take to the streets wearing genital-themed headgear as they chant in lockstep could march anew. Except this time against their Dem herders. Can you imagine the glee in the Oval Office seeing idiotically-made protest signs calling out Chuck and Nancy for selling out to “The Man”? It could be enough to make the president take a celebratory shot of Pappy.

Donald Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating and deals. Maybe not as effective as Jack Donaghy’s thoughts on the subject, but still pretty good. That’s why he walked out of a meeting yesterday. The president executed one of the best rules of negotiation, as Reagan also knew and practiced at Reykjavik; you don’t enter a negotiation you can’t walk away from.

That knowledge and the power of it, the feelings of his base, and the fact that the Dems can spin a loss and move on is why Trump will win.

If the Dems think they can hustle the president, cut his neck like poultry, then they ought to recall the words of Winston Churchill in front of the Canadian Parliament not long after Pearl Harbor. He was commenting on the ability of the British Army to repulse the Hun after German generals said they could wring the neck of England like a chicken in three weeks.

“Some chicken…some neck.”

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
David Kamioner

David Kamioner is a veteran of US Army Intelligence, serving with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked as a political consultant for over fifteen years and ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia for four years. He currently is a Public Relations consultant in Washington, DC and lives in Annapolis, MD.

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