Heh. A little reminder here that there is no “Hannity veto” despite Sean’s tough talk about the compromise on Monday night. (There might be a Coulter veto.) There is literally no scenario in which Hannity viewers would be told that the president has failed them. When you’re known as the POTUS’s “shadow chief of staff,” chat regularly with him by phone, and occasionally turn up at his rallies to pump up the crowd, you’re all but required to pull your punches when you disagree with him. Is Hannity really okay with the current bill provided that Trump also uses executive action to grab Pentagon money for the wall or does he feel compelled to say that knowing that a harsher critique might cost him a friendship and/or his unusual access to the White House? No way to know.
For what it’s worth, Rush also seemed okay with the compromise yesterday — again, with caveats.
“Anything that happens that solidifies and cements that effort as being undertaken and underway, the president can portray as a win. He can always hold out the card of a declaration of a national emergency to get the rest of it built and so forth,” Limbaugh said…
“If the president signs anything that allocates, appropriates less than the $5.7 billion he was demanding or asking, how many of you look at that as a defeat or as a loss versus how many of you look at that as the completion of a stage of this?” Limbaugh asked. “The president has promised over and over that the wall is going to get built. Nobody can say he has caved on the premise of controlling illegal immigration and shoring up the border.”…
“If he signs this, he’s gonna have to make the case that you never get everything you want all at once in Washington. We’ve got a divided government. We got ’em off the zero, we’re moving in the right direction. We’re continuing to build the wall,” Limbaugh said.
Those quotes don’t come from Limbaugh’s website, they were curated for a story on FoxNews.com. It is … interesting that the very pro-Trump FNC, which used to be led by Trump communications director Bill Shine, is lending a hand here in helping him sell this lame compromise deal to Fox viewers. The “Fox & Friends” hosts were okay with it, Hannity has grudgingly come around on it, now here’s Fox’s online arm trying to leverage Rush’s populist cred with fans to make it more palatable to them.
This is interesting too:
I’m not gonna sugar coat it, if @realDonaldTrump takes this sham border deal from the Democrats, he loses in 2020 and we ALL lose for years to come.
I’ll discuss on @foxandfriends in 10 mins!
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) February 13, 2019
Per Mediaite, it seems Lahren never did get a chance to air her views about the compromise bill. Her entire segment on F&F this morning somehow got spent on chitchat about the end of California’s LA-to-Frisco high-speed rail project. Maybe the White House has made it clear to Fox that extra pressure from the right on Trump to veto the bill would be unwelcome, as that would mean another shutdown and selling it to populists is already difficult enough with people like Coulter tweeting stuff like this.
Or maybe the producers saw Tomi’s tweet and decided not to ask her about the bill because, er, it’s stupid to think that signing it will cost Trump any votes from his most loyal fans next year, after eight months of harrowing messaging about how the Democratic nominee will usher in a long night of socialism if elected. It’s telling that a former Never Trumper like Erick Erickson chose the immediate aftermath of Trump’s shutdown-to-nowhere to declare his support for POTUS in 2020: If ever you needed proof that negative partisanship tops populists’ policy wishlist in reasons to reelect the president, that’s it.
In the end, as I’m sure Hannity recognizes, the important thing from all this is Trump saving face. Hopefully he wins in court and can build the wall, probably he loses and can’t. But so long as the blame for failure lands elsewhere, the winning 2016 coalition stays intact (except maybe for all those suburbanites who voted Democratic in the midterms):
One Trump adviser believes Trump should veto the congressional proposal—with the expectation that lawmakers would override the veto—so he can say he tried but Congress blocked him. “He can go to his base and say he fought for them.” https://t.co/jYZaRXRNSs
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) February 12, 2019
I’ve always wondered why he hasn’t considered that option more carefully. His base would enjoy blaming McConnell for defeat more than they’d enjoy blaming the judiciary for an adverse court ruling. Presumably Trump dislikes the veto-override escape hatch from this mess because even though it would allow him to shift blame to the Senate, it would also make him look weak. And it would endanger Senate incumbents potentially: You don’t want to make populist Republicans mad at Cory Gardner and Susan Collins before their white-knuckle reelection bids next year if you can avoid it. Better to have them mad at Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh if it comes to that.
Here’s Sarah Sanders pushing another face-saving argument, that getting Democrats to agree to any amount of wall money after Pelosi set a cap of a single dollar a few weeks ago is a victory. An administration official made the same point to the WSJ. Do you want to own the libs or don’t you? Well, $1.375 billion in wall funding is a very modest lib-owning. You’re welcome.
Sanders starts spinning border deal pic.twitter.com/fEqvWnEGyn
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 13, 2019