The days of Republicans praising President Trump as a Svengali of politics, a master of the media and distraction, are surely over. Around Trump there is simply destructive — and self-destructive — chaos. Instead of celebrating the passage of a criminal-justice reform bill, Trump lurched into a disastrous withdrawal from Syria, which makes sense only if you imagine it’s a Christmas present for Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Trump first claimed the Islamic State was defeated; then he said Russia, Iran and Syria would not like the pullout since they would have to fight the Islamic State. That’s incoherent, and of course Putin publicly applauded Trump’s retreat.)

As that disastrous move was reverberating on Capitol Hill, Trump then threw the country and his party under the bus by declaring he wouldn’t sign a short-term funding bill.

The Post reports:

Trump’s opposition to the deal has dramatically increased the chances of a partial shutdown at the end of Friday, when funding for large parts of the government is set to expire.
House Republicans now will attempt to add an amendment to the Senate measure that adds $5 billion — the amount Trump has demanded — for the construction of a border wall and other security measures, as well as additional funding to deal with recent natural disasters.
The measure could fail in the House because Democrats there oppose it, and it ultimately has almost no chance of passing the Senate.

Hearing right-wing commentators bellyache that they weren’t getting their wall was too much for this thin-skinned president.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was somewhere between bemused and incredulous. He asked, “So what’s the endgame here? What is the endgame of those who are demanding the president not sign the CR, that the House not pass the CR?” He continued, “It seems, unfortunately, the Trump temper tantrum is spreading like a contagion down Pennsylvania Avenue to the allies in the House. Trump’s allies in the House can pound their fists on the table all they want, but it’s not going to get a wall. They can — having caught the Trump temper tantrum fever — jump up and down, yell and scream, but it’s not going to get a wall.”

Moreover, the shutdown will be costly, not simply because it projects incompetence, dysfunction and presidential unfitness. The cost of shutting down the government is not insignificant, nor is the cost of restarting it. Non-"essential" government employees are temporarily sent home but invariably paid for the time missed after the shutdown ends. Moreover, “The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that the 2013 shutdown of a little more than two weeks directly reduced GDP for the fourth quarter of that year by 0.3 percentage points. The bureau attributed that to the lost productivity of federal workers who were furloughed.” (In 2017 a shutdown was averted, but it was estimated it would have cost $6.5 billion a week.)

Public polling shows the shutdown to be highly unpopular. Trump has already said he’d be “proud to shut down the government," so it’s hard to see how he’d now point to Democrats as the troublemakers. Since the wall itself is also unpopular, one can imagine the blowback to any shutdown will be even more pronounced.

From all appearances, this is simply a president who is desperate, out of control and without restraints. He is politically isolated, and with each new outburst he cements the conclusion he is irrational and unfit to govern. Those staffers who, like the New York Times anonymous op-ed author, think they are saving the country from harm by serving him have been deluding themselves for some time. And outgoing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who keeps insisting in his last days in office that he has been a grand success, looks more feeble than any other.

Whether the government shuts down or not, Trump has made an excellent case for getting him out of office as soon as possible — and handing the White House and the Senate over to a party that actually wants to govern.

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