“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
— English nursery rhyme often ascribed to Mother Goose
One of the many memorable lines spoken in the motion picture adaptation of Tom Clancy’s first novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” is this one, spoken by the American submarine captain, engaged in combat with a Soviet sub: “The thing about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.”
Everybody holding elective office in Washington, D.C., now should take that thing and ponder it in their hearts.
Because the thing is, people, just ordinary folk, hate government shutdownsthe who and why and when don’t really matter—folks just hate government shutdowns, as well they should, because government shutdowns are stupid.
And the current one, now entering its third week as this is written, just might be the stupidest one, ever, for reasons we will get to in just a minute.
It is, however, justified to pause momentarily in new consideration of a conservative scribe in good standing, P.J. O’Rourke’s rather classic observation of his party: “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.”
And while Donald Trump is neither a conservative nor a Republican, at least in the sense of what that political party has traditionally been, he does call himself one and did win the White House beneath its banner, so the good Mr. O’Roarke’s witty and often fitting wisdom still applies, methinks.
So, friends and neighbors, allow me to share a truth with you in my best down home Mississippi style, shucked down to the cob, as we say, a truth that President Donald Trump already knows and desperately hopes that you don’t ever get around to figuring out—There ain’t gonna be no wall.
Not now. Not a year from now. Not ever.
And there never was going to be a wall, just like Mexico never was going to pay for any such wall. Trump, who says he is tired of Americans being played for suckers on the international stage, certainly has no objection to playing them for such in domestic politics.
One of the president’s apologists the other day suggested that the wall is really just “a metaphor,” at which I take great personal offense, as it represents but yet another assault upon the English language. The wall is no metaphor. The wall is rather a great big lie, foisted upon the American public by candidate Donald Trump which President Donald Trump now seeks escape from, even at the cost of shuttering approximately one quarter of the federal government.
This is mischief, this is nonsense exclusively for the president’s slowly diminishing political base. The House of Representatives, the Senate and the president himself had all agreed upon legislation which would have funded those agencies not already operating under new appropriations bills, but after the shrillest media voices on the far right—Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter, specifically, threw respective hissie fits because that legislation contained no money dedicated to their Ozimandian vision of a wall, Trump got the willies and said that he wouldn’t sign it.
That’s right, he was for it before he was against it, and as a political commentator, I can assure you all without fear of contradiction, that government a la political commentator is an exponentially awful idea.
And so, purely for perceived political advantage, and based exclusively upon a lie repeated often enough to now be viewed as truth, some 800,000 federal workers, half of them furloughed, half of them so designated as “essential” they have the honor of working without pay within the Agriculture, Commerce, HUD, Treasury, Transportation, Justice, Interior, EPA, and most ironically of all, Homeland Security departments get to contemplate their mortgages and daycare arrangements and tuitions and going to the grocery store not knowing when or if they are going to get their next checks.
And don’t forget that all these things that all these people do in all these agencies for you good taxpaying American people aren’t getting done, either. Anybody need a farm loan? Anybody really in a hurry to get a tax refund?
People hate government shutdowns because government shutdowns are stupid. Before somebody advised him he’d better start blaming the Democrats for this one, Trump went on TV and proudly proclaimed that he would gladly take the blame because both his position and heart were so pure.
Bet he wishes he hadn’t done that. Worrisome stuff that, videotape.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.