We are living in a time that is even more serious than Watergate, that infamous political burglary about which President Richard M. Nixon lied and then was forced to resign under threat of impeachment. Now, a figure out of Nixon's past, one with a tattoo of the disgraced President on his back, has emerged as a key player in the drama that continues to unfold.
Unlike Watergate, the Trump presidency in its virtual entirety has led our nation into a future of:
International insecurity because of his shoot-from-the-hip “America First” policies and admiration for strongman dictators;
Environmental insecurity because of his hate for President Obama and his determination to undue every single one of Obama’s achievements;
Healthcare insecurity because of his blind promise to undue Obamacare;
Economic insecurity because of his give-to-the-rich tax cuts that are creating a federal budget deficit that will force future generations to repay and his misguided tariffs that are increasing the cost of living for ordinary Americans;
Human relations insecurity because of his disdain for racial minorities, women (except for you know what), LGBTQ individuals, and virtually anyone who is not a middle-aged white male.
Then Came the #TrumpShutdown
The government shutdown that we experienced for more than a month, devastating families and endangering millions of Americans, is simply a result of Trump’s blind desire to fulfill his campaign promise for a wall on our southern border, one for which Mexico would pay and that would keep out his version of undesirables.
His most loyal supporters, including the right wing media mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter, love that idea and have encouraged Trump to hold firm, to hold the country hostage unless he gets his wall funding. They emboldened him to do so.
But, Democrats in Congress, of course, refused to bend to Trump’s demand and so the 36-day shutdown persisted until Trump finally agreed today to three weeks of negotiations without wall funding, with a deadline of Feb. 15. If he doesn't get his way by then, he pledged either #TrumpShutdownV2 or he'll declare a national emergency so he can build it without Congressional approval -- a move that would certainly be challenged in court.
The three-week deal had been suggested by Democrats many days ago but was rejected by Trump. Much pain and financial hardship was suffered by some 800,000 federal workers who missed two paychecks and could have been avoided.
Of course there were pressure points that must have influenced Trump's willingness to finally acquiesce and accept the Democrats' offer.
Yesterday, the Senate rejected two possible solutions to end the shutdown and Trump saw several Republican senators vote with the Democrats, while only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with the GOP. So it was clear Trump was losing support in the Senate, a development that would only worsen should the shutdown continue.
It was the same day that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted her authority and refused to allow Trump to present his State of the Union message Jan. 29 if the shutdown continued. Despite protestations, Trump was forced to acquiesce.
A new national poll published this morning showed that Trump's disapproval rating had increased by five points to 58 percent of Americans, the majority of whom hold him and congressional Republicans responsible for the shutdown.
Finally, the growing disaster of the shutdown became even more apparent as flights were delayed and thousands of travelers were stuck in airports largely because so many air traffic controllers, who were going unpaid, failed to show up for work. Security lines had grown increasingly long as TSA agents tired of working without pay and called in sick.
Those are the type of factors that influence Trump because they affect him directly, far more than the food stamp recipients who were in danger of being unable to purchase food for their families or the government employees who were forced to work second jobs to make ends meet.
It was ironic that the deal, temporary as it is, came on the day that Roger Stone, a close associate of President Trump, was arrested, charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller with coordinating with Trump campaign officials about Democratic National Committee emails stolen by WikiLeaks.
Stone, of course, denied any wrongdoing and predicted today that he will be cleared when the case goes to court.
Stone is known for being proud of dirty political tricks, so much so that he has an image of Richard Nixon, the icon of dirty tricks, tattooed on his back, although he once objected to being described as a Nixon “bagman” who “kept his mouth shut.”
True to form, Stone promised today not to rat on Trump. Maybe one day he'll get a jailhouse tat of Trump on his behind.