Opinion: So Mexico’s off the hook for that wall?

(AP)

Admittedly, I don’t understand many, many things about this president and the way that his mind operates, but this one is particularly confusing. Maybe you can explain it to me:

How can the threat of shutting down the U.S. government — a threat that President Trump repeated this week — force the government of Mexico to pay for his precious border wall?

That was the whole idea, right? It was always a two-part promise, repeated like a mantra at every Trump campaign rally. It always got a great reaction: He would build a huge lovely wall all along our southern border, aaaannnndddd, who was going to pay for it?

“MEXICO!!!”

The part about Mexico paying for it wasn’t just an afterthought. In terms of emotional resonance, it was pretty much the whole thing. It was an assertion of American dominance, a claim that under El Trumpo we would make our neighbors do whatever we wanted because dammit, we are America, God shed his grace on we.

For that same reason, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has insisted all along, publicly and emphatically, that Mexico would never ever pay for that wall. Every other prominent Mexican official has echoed that stance. So in a private phone call with Peña Nieto back in January, Trump was reduced to pleading with the Mexican leader to stop repeating that refusal, calling the wall “the least important thing” they have to talk about.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said on the phone call. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

“We should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump said. “As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay,’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’”

Peña Nieto then repeated his refusal to pay for the wall, in any form or fashion, again referring to it as a nonnegotiable matter of national dignity.

So no, Mexico is not going to pay for that “stupid wall.” The question then becomes whether the American taxpayer will do so.

The wall would be expensive —  somewhere between $25 billion and $70 billion. It would also be pretty useless. Illegal border crossings have been dropping for years now, and immigration experts and engineers alike have pointed out how easily a wall could be overcome by those determined to find a way.

In addition, poll after poll after poll reveals strong American opposition to it, with wall opponents outnumbering supporters by roughly a two-to-one margin. The only place where the wall still seems like a good idea is within the bubble of a Trump rally, which to Trump is the only place that matters anymore.

Again, I don’t understand it. With his popularity falling to historic low levels, Trump seems to have abandoned thoughts of moderating to expand his appeal and instead is doing all he can to keep the love and affection of his dwindling hard-core base. They give him what he needs, which is love, so he wants to give them what they want, which is the wall.

Threatening to shut down the government over wall funding fits that latter strategy perfectly, as did his Charlottesville remarks and his ban on transgender Americans in the military. So too would a pardon to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a withdrawal from NAFTA and a much-rumored decision to resume deportations of so-called Dreamers.

And while Trump doesn’t give a damn, that strategy puts his fellow Republicans in a tough situation. They fear tying their political fate to that of Trump, for reasons explained by the chart above. However, they also know that if they defy him, they risk becoming the targets of his angry base.

For the moment they’re doing everything they can to avoid making that choice, while Trump is trying to ensure that they must. Something’s going to give, and soon.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1384 comments
Mason Malpass
Mason Malpass

Trump did not say how Mexico would pay for the wall. Those illegals who are sent back, and those who cannot get in, think about it, what it is costing the US to feed, cloth, house, and educate them will more than pay for it. Think of the wall for what it is, an investment that will pay big dividends.

Georgia Mc Kenna
Georgia Mc Kenna

That's all you got?????? Facts...let's ALSO hear about his accomplishments . ......nah ....not enough intelligence out there by Dems..Criticism is all they know.....Quite pathetically sad isn't it???

Marybeth Morgan
Marybeth Morgan

Thinking Mexico was going to pay for a wall is like telling my neighbor to pay for my privacy fence. Not happening.

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

BUILD THAT WALL. On your tax return it asks if you want to donate $3 to the general election. Now ask if folks want to donate $20 for the wall. They would have the money by the close of the day on April 15th

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

Who cares? I'll give two shares to make up for a pos winer democrat who wont

James Tunon
James Tunon

That wall will be less useful than the ice wall on game of thrones, historically no wall has ever kept anyone out, not even the great wall of china and you can see that from space

John Gilbert Colgan
John Gilbert Colgan

Yea. Not once did a castle wall thwart an enemy attack. I bet some folks are so clueless about history that they think that the Trojan horse won the third race at Pimlico

Brad Nash
Brad Nash

too bad America isn't as far as the politicians and the taxes go.

Rob Fine
Rob Fine

Mexico was never going to pay for trumps monument to stupidity. If built it will cost us way more than just tax dollars.

Scott Rutledge
Scott Rutledge

Same people crying about the wall are the same ones crying about jobs, terrorism, and anything else that doesn't get handed to them!

Brenda Rich
Brenda Rich

If our government can find millions and billions to send to other countries that hate us. Then they can find money for the wall. And to all of the people who blame Pres Trump for EVERYTHING. Get over yourself and grow up. You are part of the problem. Actually you are the problem.

Jan Meyer
Jan Meyer

Why are you worried about this now?

Ella Della
Ella Della

When were they ever on the hook? Mexico's Pres said from Day One he wasn't paying for NO wall. Just because Trump says it, doesn't make it so.

Barry Hardy
Barry Hardy

Teri that tells me that probably 5 millions illegals voted democratic. When you have more people voting than are registered, what does that tell you.the clintons are nothing more than political mobsters. .

Anthony Clifton
Anthony Clifton

Ben the article was about the building of the wall on the Mexican border, not about the Clintons. Come on man, keep up.

Lucas Jensen
Lucas Jensen

Where is the evidence of these illegals voting?

Thomas Pate
Thomas Pate

Of course not. They never were. Lol.

Alex Smith
Alex Smith

Leftist logic: Whine and throw a fit because trump wants mexico to pay for a wall that will never actually get built. Whine and throw a fit because they found mexico isn't going to be paying for it.

Ken Watson
Ken Watson

Your icon is genius, I thought I had a hair on my phone.

Lindon Hooper
Lindon Hooper

No one let them off anything. They will pay us back one way or another but the wall will be built that is the important issue right now. Not where a billion comes from when you are talking a trillion dollar budget.

Travis VonRichburg
Travis VonRichburg

What group of people were actually dumb enough to believe Trump? Oh....

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson

Who cares about a wall? If you said, I do, you are a idiot. My 12 year old son understands their are more important issues surrounding this country and the world, then building a wall between countries. He asked me, "Dad, didn't Germany have a wall and the people tore it down "? "Yes Son they did ". "So are the German people smart than the American people "? "It sure seems so ". Now ask yourself, is this administration smarter than a 12 year old, sure seems not.

Robert Betancourt
Robert Betancourt

There is a wall there already, the great majority of people do not cross the border, they take a plane and then stay.

Naima Barton
Naima Barton

Mexico was never ON the hook. \U0001f602

Dana Hill
Dana Hill

They were never on the hook. He's was just talking to get voted in. Mexico was never going to pay.

Will Senn
Will Senn

Despite 45s constant promises (lies) that Mexico would pay for his wall, they were never on the hook to pay for it. Sad!

Anthony Poolos
Anthony Poolos

Well , at least the war is over, and we got health care, and the budget was balanced, and everyone is dying slowly in their coal mine jobs again.

D'Angelo Manning
D'Angelo Manning

I can't believe people actually went for it,but most his supporters are people that will tell another person that's been here longer than them,to "go back to Africa" or Mexico.

Gerald Moore
Gerald Moore

Hope not we need more troops and ice on the border

Shawn Maxwell
Shawn Maxwell

Use all drug money confiscated in this country to pay for the wall

Charlton Harris
Charlton Harris

I thought Trump promised that mexico was paying for it?

Lou Simonini
Lou Simonini

They were never on the hook. That was all #45's BS.

Ted Smith
Ted Smith

Mexico was never on the hook,Trumps mind was

Antonio Grimes
Antonio Grimes

This is what it's always about for Trump Supporters, that Hillary lost and their candidate won so they think that everybody's mad because of that and not because that Trump is so obsessed with undoing all of Obama's policies and alienating everyone in his own party. Of course Mexico wasn't going to pay for the Wall. And then he says if he doesn't get the money from Congress to pay for the Wall that he was going to shutdoen the government which will stop FEMA and other aid to the flood victims of Texas who are expecting more rain in the next week. Now Texas is hurting because Trump a few days ago signed an Executive Order that undid Obama's Flood Protection Program. And then he pardoned a racist sheriff who was racial profiling Hispanics and was found guilty by a court of law.

Swaine Thompson Sr.
Swaine Thompson Sr.

Im focusing on how I can help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Don't have time for this foolishness. SMH

Heather Gentry
Heather Gentry

Exactly that's all these Trump supporters care about is building the wall while we have thousands of life's in deadly situation while in the meantime look who took time to come to Texas to help the victims of the hurricane not Trump but mexico

Janisha Hollingshed
Janisha Hollingshed

Looks like a no too me ...\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602\U0001f602

Dan Griffin
Dan Griffin

Mexico was never on the hook. It was just another lie in the endless series of falsehoods told by President Dumpster Fire