President Donald Trump stepped back Monday from demanding a down payment for his border wall in must-past spending legislation, potentially removing a major obstacle to a bipartisan deal just days ahead of a government shutdown deadline.What happened here? I know that Trump is a terrible negotiator and that he often backs down when he's dealing with people who see through his BS and aren't afraid of him. But this is the wall, dammit! It's remarkable that he's compromising on that.
Trump told a gathering of around 20 conservative media reporters Monday evening that he would be willing to return to the wall funding issue in September, according to two people who were in the room.
I can only assume that someone told him he'd have bad stories written about him if his first hundred days ended with a government shutdown. Even though he would have tweeted that the "lying" media was unfairly blaming the shutdown on him rather than the Democrats, we know that he's exquisitely sensitive to criticism from the reporters and pundits he calls liars. That must have been what persuaded him to back away from the confrontation -- I'm sure it wasn't an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the budgeting process or legislative gamesmanship. He just wanted CNN and Morning Joe and The New York Times not to be mean to him.
With another president, I'd assume that the unpopularity of the wall was a factor -- several recent polls have shown that 60% or more of the public opposes it. But Trump doesn't seem to care about the public at large. He disbelieves polls that are bad for him and cherry-picks good results. He does no outreach to liberals or moderates. He seems to look for any excuse to hold a campaign-style rally, like the one he'll be holding this weekend, in which he can commune with base voters exclusively.
But he can't stand bad news stories, and he's obsessed with the hundred days. So he caved.