We’ve gone from the spinning of the shutdown to the spinning of the post-shutdown.
Whether it’s the #SchumerShutdown or the #TrumpShutdown matters somewhat less at the moment, now that the Senate has come to its senses and voted to reopen the government before the real damage kicks in. But it could affect the politics of 2018.
You could sense over the weekend that both sides, having made their political points, were ready to pull the plug on the shutdown after all of one weekend.
Much of the coverage blamed President Trump, based on the inescapable notion that the Republicans control everything in Washington. But some news organizations recognized that the Senate needs Democratic support to reach the 60-vote threshold. The lead story in Saturday’s New York Times was headlined “Senate Democrats Block Effort to Avert Shutdown.”
Yet there is hypocrisy on both sides. Each party is making the opposite argument from the case it made in the 2013 shutdown during the Obama administration.
Democrats said then that Ted Cruz and the Republicans were being wildly irresponsible by forcing a shutdown over one ideological issue (trying to stop ObamaCare). Harry Reid said they were holding the government “hostage.”
Republicans said then that they were fighting for principle and the impact of a government shutdown wasn’t all that great.
Now Democrats are saying they are fighting for an important principle (protecting the dreamers) while the Trump administration said the shutdown was a threat to national security. The president accused the Democrats of holding the military “hostage” and Mitch McConnell used the same word.
The truth is that the two sides were not that far apart. The Democrats are fighting to save the DACA program, but Trump has repeatedly said he wants to help the dreamers and viewed this as a “bill of love.”
Chuck Schumer has said thought he had a deal after a one-on-one negotiating session with Trump, but that White House officials later upped their demands. (Lindsay Graham has also accused the president’s staff, and Stephen Miller in particular, of undermining any deal.) But the White House says Schumer didn’t go as far as he claimed in offering solid funding for the border wall, a crucial part of the DACA compromise.
As far as achieving that compromise, it certainly didn’t help that the Trump reelection campaign posted an ad saying that with the shutdown Democrats are “complicit” in the murders of law-enforcement officers by people who are in this country illegally.
Most average Americans don’t care about the back-and-forth negotiating details. They care about foreign terrorists and border security, but polls show that nearly nine in 10 also want the dreamers, brought here as kids, to be able to stay in America.
If the shutdown had dragged on, with highly visible government services either curtailed or shuttered, voters would have become increasingly disgusted with both sides. So at least the Senate briefly voted to keep the lights on.