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President Trump Knew When to Fold

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 26, 2019 06:37

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Perhaps Kenny Rogers' 1978 song, "The Gambler" best explains why President Trump ended the Government Shutdown yesterday. He folded because he saw didn't have the cards in his hand to win. He now needs to come up with an alternative to end the stalemate before the February 15th deadline.

Perhaps Kenny Rogers' 1978 song, "The Gambler" best explains why President Trump ended the government shutdown yesterday:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table,
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

After the Gestapo-like arrest of Roger Stone, defection of six GOP senators including Mitt Romney, plus public dissent from his FBI Director, he recognized he didn't hold the cards.

Most importantly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposed him. Without the Senate, President Trump didn't hold a winning hand, and he accepted it.

He appeared exhausted as he delivered his Rose Garden speech. His praise of Federal workers could have been written by a Carter speechwriter, it was so over-the-top.

Threats to repeat the shutdown or declare an emergency sounded empty, since at this point courts could overturn any emergency declaration and there is clearly no appetite for another shutdown among GOP leadership.

So President Trump needs new cards, or to find an ace up his sleeve, to regain the element of surprise when the deadline expires on February 15th--otherwise he'll lose again.

One alternative was suggested in a previous column, the "Goldstein Plan" for a bipartisan commission to take over border wall construction. There are sure to be others floating around Washington. There always are memos and plans tucked away in drawers or stored in the Cloud, ready to be revealed when the moment is right.

President Trump may need to forge a new political coalition to get the hand he needs. He may seek to recruit support from Democrats to replace GOP defectors. It would require finesse, yet not impossible if he works at it, since reportedly some thirty House Democrats are willing to vote for wall funding in some form.

The Trump administration would do well to remember the words of Congressman William L. Clay at this point: 

"You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.”

The civil right leader took a long-term view of what was necessary to pass legislation in Congress, and stated the rules that bind President Trump:

“Rule number one … is take what you can, give what you must. Rule number two is take it whenever, however, and from whomever. Rule number three is if you are not ready to abide by the first two rules you are not qualified for a career in politics.”

With his Rose Garden speech, President Trump has just given what he must to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Congress, and the GOP Senate.

Now, he must figure out how to "take what he can," before February 15th. 

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 26, 2019 06:37


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