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The Walls Are Closing In — Around Trump

President Donald Trump speaks from the Oval Office of the White House as he gives a prime-time address about border security Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Washington. (Carlos Barria/AP)
President Donald Trump speaks from the Oval Office of the White House as he gives a prime-time address about border security Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Washington. (Carlos Barria/AP)

President Donald Trump made a televised appeal for his border wall on Tuesday night. It was a predictable speech, full of scary stories about dangerous immigrants and a familiar litany of lies intended to convince “the American people” that there’s a security crisis on our southern border.

There isn’t.

The only people who believe this racist fantasy are the same ones who believe Trump is a brilliant businessman and negotiator.

Everyone else — including the GOP’s pride of cowardly lions in Congress — recognizes Trump for what he is at this point: a con man who will say anything to distract people from his incompetence and corruption.

His only bankable talent is as a reality TV star, and even that is fading. After three years as the dominant storyteller in our culture, Trump no longer holds the power to shock. He’s the saddest of specimens: a dull demagogue, a make-believe mogul whose mendacity no longer thrills.

The speech he read off a teleprompter did nothing to bolster his cause. If anything, it merely called attention to his folly.

No matter how much he huffs and puffs and tries to blow the facts down, he’s the one who proudly decided to shut down the government. The vast majority of Americans blame him. Most realize that his administration’s cruel and senseless policies created the humanitarian crisis on the border.

Just as he had no plan to make Mexico pay for the Wall, Trump has no clue how to force democrats — or American taxpayers — to underwrite his boondoggle.

Why should we?

Trump did his darndest to gin up panic about the “migrant caravan” heading into the midterms, and his party lost 40 seats in the House. They would have lost even more if the GOP hadn’t rigged the system using gerrymandering and voter suppression.

If Trump really wanted his wall, he would do what politicians used to do: compromise.

But Trump isn’t a politician. He’s a failed real estate developer turned money launderer. To him, the presidency is just another chance to extract cash from a failing concern.

No matter how much he huffs and puffs and tries to blow the facts down, he’s the one who proudly decided to shut down the government.

Anyone who knows anything about the border recognizes that building a wall has almost nothing to do with border security. It won’t stop terrorists or drugs or immigrants.

The Wall was a publicity stunt, an applause line that Trump carted out at rallies when his crowds grew tired of chanting Lock Her Up. Like all his adolescent sorcery, the Wall was never intended to be an actual policy remedy.

It’s not a real object, made of concrete or steel. It’s a childish fantasy, made of rage and denial and projection, the materials necessary to keep aggrieved white people safe from feelings of loss and despair and shame.

Trump can pander to these folks for as long as he wants. But the harsh consequences of the shutdown, and the damning evidence amassed daily by Robert Mueller, aren’t going away simply because the president scammed a bunch of network suits into giving him free airtime.

The walls are closing in around this president and his accomplices.

Here’s to hoping they finally pay the price.

Related:

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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