It’s apparent what Trump is doing. California — or at least the caricature of it that Trump has presented — has long provided a convenient political foil for Trump and the broader Republican Party. With lax immigration enforcement, a solidly Democratic-led government and a culture that is viewed with suspicion by conservative swaths of the heartland, it makes a lot of sense.
But it’s also worth noting how toothless these threats have been. Trump hasn’t made good on them, and even some of them that he could have followed through on — such as halting construction of the border wall in the state — didn’t make much sense. California isn’t particularly pro-border-wall, so it’s not as if there would have been an outcry.
In other words, if Trump wants to go there on whether California is a drag on the federal government, California will happily go there. (There has even been some chatter about the state threatening, in turn, to withhold its federal taxes in response to Trump’s saber-rattling.)
But Trump doesn’t actually want to go there — especially not when it comes to withholding emergency funding from a U.S. state dealing with tragedy. Instead, he just wants to talk about going there.