Trump set the current crisis in motion last September when he revoked Barack Obama’s executive order that protected DREAMERs — young unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children — from deportation, but he offered no guidance about what he wanted to happen next, other than for Congress to do … something.
The lack of clarity emboldened immigration hardliners in the GOP caucus while simultaneously raising hopes for a deal among immigration reformers. But Trump’s intervening behavior wound up salting the earth by leaving everyone feeling that he might screw them over at any moment. Consequently, nobody is quite sure exactly who is shutting down the government or what it is the White House is trying to achieve by rejecting a bipartisan proposal that would avert a shutdown.
The country has mostly coped with Trump’s inability to do his job by outsourcing governance to congressional GOP leadership. But congressional Republicans are less unified on immigration than on most issues, and Trump is more invested in immigration than on most issues. Consequently, his actual personal leadership as president of the United States is critical to moving the system forward.
But the mere fact that the circumstances require Trump to act like a real president doesn’t change the fact that he’s a lazy, ill-informed conspiracy theorist prone to tweeting cryptic pronouncements about delicate policy issues based on Fox & Friends segments.
And yet, I’m not entirely sure I buy it. The rest of Ygelsias’s article lays out the crucial dynamics well, but to my eye it still boils down to “no Republican Speaker of the House could bring a bill that could get 60 Senate votes to a vote and keep their job.” Trump’s inept leadership certainly doesn’t help, but I don’t see how any Republican president could resolve the fundamental impasse. A Republican president who hadn’t repealed DACA would have made a shutdown less likely but…that just reveals the same problem. The runner-up for the nomination, Ted Cruz, surely would have. President Jeb! might not have, but he had zero chance of the nomination, in large measure because of his moderation on immigration. Rubio also couldn’t get the nomination — in some measure because of his support for the Gang of 8 deal — and if were president, he would have been under a lot of pressure to repeal THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL ORDER OF KING OBAMA and probably would have caved.
So while Trump is part of the problem, I think he’s more symptom than he is cause.