Opinion writer

The full impact of divided government, improved media coverage, the departure of any competent staff and President Trump’s fecklessness have transformed him into a floundering lame duck. His Oval Office address, immediately fact-checked, persuaded no one. Without a Republican-majority House or a visible Senate majority leader (we’ll need one of those bloodhounds to track down Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), Trump flails against reality. The lies (terrorists are coming over the border!) are harder to sustain, a useful target is not readily available (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tied him up in knots), and he has done something so stupid and harmful to his own voters (who are among those not getting paid and not getting government services) that even the illusion of “winning” cannot be sustained.

He thought an emergency declaration was a good threat — or that it might fly. On Monday, he retreated. He has ruled out including “dreamers” in any deal, but then in an effort to lay blame at Democrats' feet insists they don’t want to talk about dreamers. Weak, weak, weak.

His self-destructive shutdown is taking its toll. The Quinnipiac poll on Monday, like other recent surveys, finds he is losing the battle for public opinion. Voters support a Democratic plan to reopen the government by a 63 percent to 30 percent margin. “Every party, gender, education, age and racial group supports this idea except Republicans, who are opposed 52 - 39 percent.” Voters oppose a wall (55/43 percent), oppose holding the government hostage to get a wall (63/32 percent) and blame Trump and the Republicans (56/36 percent). They really don’t want him to use emergency powers (65/32 percent).

Voters are aligned (61/32 percent) with the Democrats' position to fund more security but not the wall. Voters they didn’t believe Trump told the truth in the Oval Office (“President Trump’s TV address to the nation last week was ‘mostly misleading,’ 49 percent of American voters say, while 32 percent say it was ‘mostly accurate.’ … American voters believed Pelosi/Schumer more than Trump 46 - 36 percent, including 48 - 33 percent among independent voters”) and they overwhelming reject the notion that immigrants commit more crimes (63/29 percent), and overwhelmingly believe immigrants are good for America (73/16 percent).

Trump made the midterm elections about immigration and got clobbered. Voters aren’t any more susceptible to his fearmongering now. To the contrary, he has lost the debate. ( "59 - 40 percent [say the wall] is not a good use of taxpayer dollars; 55 - 43 percent that the wall would not make the U.S. safer; 59 - 40 percent that the wall is not necessary to protect the border'). He has a pair of twos and keeps doubling down. Go figure.

At any rate, without a game plan and without public opinion on his side, he won’t be getting concessions from Democrats anytime soon. Republicans (like Democrats) understand Trump can’t find his way out of a paper bag, so the pressure understandably builds on McConnell.

The Post reports that a bipartisan group of senators are talking about some sort of deal. (Hint: Demand McConnell put the House funding bills on the table; they will pass by a filibuster-proof majority, maybe even a veto-proof majority.) Moreover, McConnell’s indifference to problem-solving and delight in staying out of the fray make him look, well, awful. (“Asked whether McConnell should get more involved in the negotiations with Trump and congressional leaders," The Post reports, "[Senate Majority Whip John] Cornyn said the majority leader is ‘right where he wants to be’ and ‘right where he should be, saying that when they can get something the president will sign he will put it on the floor.’ ”) Patting himself on the back for avoiding responsibility when hundreds of thousands go without pay, small businesses get hit and government services aren’t available is not, to put it mildly, a good look for him.

Read more:

Catherine Rampell: Turns out Republicans don’t care about the dignity of a paycheck after all

Ted Koppel: Don’t expect Trump to go quietly

Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s shutdown strategy is a wreck. Just ask Lindsey Graham.

The Post’s View: The shutdown is causing real suffering — and not just to federal workers

Marc A. Thiessen: Democrats were for a wall before they were against it