Donald Trump had a face-saving narrative put together to avoid a shutdown: 1)call any border security funding “the wall,” and 2)claim that the lightly renegotiated NAFTA constituted Mexico paying for it. Alas, the conservative media that would normally parrot Trump’s bullshit du jour decided to push back:
You could see the outline of a plan. Trump would wheedle some money out of Democrats, rebrand the tweaked NAFTA as Mexico “paying” for it, rebrand the fence as a wall, and say he won. Accordingly, Trump abandoned his previous threats to shut down the government over the lack of a wall.
But then right-wing media threw a fit. A backdrop here is that numerous right-wing infotainers build their audience by promoting irrational confrontational tactics. Figures like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and the cast of Fox & Friends don’t have serious, substantive policy disagreements with Republican leaders, but they do like to goad them into hopeless confrontations by pretending they will create leverage that does not exist. Under the Obama administration, conservative media promoted a series of government shutdown threats out of the belief that they could be used to make Obama give them policy concessions. For whatever reason, they’re not going along with the plan of pretending the wall is getting built, and instead they’re demanding Trump shut down the government to get the wall.
And when right-wing infotainers demanded this, Trump “alternately seethed and panicked about the stream of invective he’s hearing from allies on television,” as Politico reports.
The normal political strategy of a shutdown holds that the president will give up in the face of a shutdown because presidents care about the government looking competent and orderly. But this is an unusual situation — a shutdown being engineered by the president, rather than against him.
The situation is even worse that a closed wingnut media system echoing the president; the closed wingnut media system often pushes Trump (and many other Republican officials) to be even wingnuttier. In this case, a lot of working people will suffer as a result.