President Donald Trump has always been a bit of thorn in the sides of the left and the elitist, establishment wings of the right. Understandable. He doesn’t play the normal reindeer political games.
But this shutdown battle has spread a bitter taste wide.
“Trump Turns On Fox News: ‘Even Less Understanding … Than Fake News CNN & NBC,’” ran one HuffPost headline.
“Trump Scoffs at Ann Coulter: ‘Maybe I Didn’t Return Her Phone Call or Something,’” ran one Mediaite headline.
And on Fox News’ website, a prominently placed opinion piece from Mary Anne Marsh, Democratic strategist, that mocked: “Donald Trump and the shutdown reveal him as The Wizard of Oz — all smoke and bluster and not much else.”
Egads. It’s one thing for Trump to face the fire from the usual sources.
It’s another thing entirely to face friendly fire.
On Coulter — who recently called out the president as a “wimp” for opening government without funding for the wall — Trump told the Wall Street Journal that “I hear she’s become very hostile. Maybe I didn’t return her phone call or something.”
He was similarly critical of Fox personnel.
Trump tweeted: “Never thought I’d say this but I think @johnrobertsFox and @GillianHTurner@FoxNews have even less understanding of the Wall negotiations than the folks at FAKE NEWS CNN & NBC! Look to final results! Don’t know how my poll numbers are so good, especially up 19% with Hispanics?”
His tweet came after Turner and Roberts discussed during a Fox segment the fallout from the shutdown. Turner, at one point, said Trump “fell on his sword on the wall issue,” Mediaite noted.
And those comments came on the heels of the White House’s acceptance of a shutdown that didn’t include any of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded for a wall. At the same time, Trump said another shutdown was possible.
What does that mean?
Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff for the White House, said on Fox News on Sunday that “at the end of the day, the president is going to secure the border one way or another” and that the Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to take a look at “possible ways of funding border security.”
Trump does need to honor this wall promise he made on the campaign trail. It was essentially his whole schtick — to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it.
His base is loyal; his voters can withstand much. And polls do show they’ve not abandoned him.
But what his base won’t withstand is a Nancy Pelosi who calls the shots on Capitol Hill. What his base won’t support is a White House that gives the appearance of caving to Democratic demands.
Trump needs a win on the wall. The friendly fire, if nothing else, underscores that point.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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