Slack Chat: Shutdown Showdown I – Flexing

January 23, 2019

J: Hey T, did you see that Nancy Pelosi told President Trump to go have the State of the Union in a Holiday Inn in north Baltimore for all she cares?

T: Those two are funny. Pelosi’s doppelganger twin in this farce is actually Mitch McConnell, not Trump. McConnell’s resistance to a spending bill caused the shutdown. Trump can’t keep Mitch from introducing a bill; he can only ask. It’s on McConnell that he refuses to tell Trump no. 

J: The veto-proof bill, yes.  

T: I don’t think I realized just how politically incompetent Trump was until the shutdown. He has built this reputation as a deal-maker over the years, despite literally never making a deal, by being really good at bragging about all his deals. Now he’s in between two professional dealmakers, desperately trying to judge the wind between them to grab the credit.

And neither is having it. McConnell is standing back and making sure that everybody knows that the shutdown is Trump’s play, not McConnell’s play.

J: And Pelosi is an old hand at the one-upmanship game. 

T: Trump relies on misdirection to get away with his mostly obvious sales tricks. He’ll confuse everyone or distract them while he positions himself to get credit (or shift blame), then once he’s in position he’ll say “hey, look at me NOW!” 

He can’t do that here, because, well … ‘taint nobody lookin’ away this time.

J: I think he’s trying to deal with Pelosi (and probably McCornhole, too) the way he dealt with people in New York City, with bluster and bullying and threats. He’s not used to dealing with someone like Pelosi, who is in charge of the House and knows it. He doesn’t get on the House floor without an invitation, and she’s not about to give him one. Her House, her rules.

T: How do you think his speech will be treated? Will all the networks cover it, or will some of them farm it out to their subdivisions, like the wall speech?

J: I think they’ll cover it, it is the SOTU after all. But Pelosi knows how to hit him where he lives; there won’t be any pauses for applause, no standing ovation when he comes in, no adulation, and that has got to just be killing him. In that sense (the hitting-where-he-lives sense) it was an absolute masterstroke by Pelosi.

T: Will he bring in an audience of sycophants, like at one of his rallies? I bet he wants to. A screaming crowd of red hats, waving those d-picture of a fence signs … he’d feel like John Holmes grabbing Pelosi’s … well, attention.

J: I’m sure he wants to but I’m not sure how he’d pull that off. I expect he’ll do the speech from the Oval, and there’s not all that much room in there. He could go to one of the bigger rooms, but he’d run the risk of looking like he was speaking from a hotel conference room somewhere.

T: I mostly agree with you. But I wonder … given a week and with a desperate need to punch back, and a room full of dipshits who mostly think in revenge and grievance terms, I think something weird might happen. Will he try to be dignified? He really sucks at it, so that would be to Pelosi’s advantage. If I was advising him, I’d say book that area where the protest thing took place and invite everyone in but make sure the crowd is full of MAGA hats and screaming women.

J: I doubt he’ll be able to resist airing his grievances. The Democratic response will be interesting, for sure. What will they say? Will they stick the needle in further or will they try to position themselves as the adults in the room?

T: Trump is an incredibly predictable person, as we well know. His motivation will be clear (make Pelosi look bad) but his obsession with his dick means he can’t look weak. So he has to thread the needle between “she’s being mean to me” and standing over her in his wife beater tank top, pouring beer over her head.

How does he bully Pelosi while making it look like she is bullying him? His previous attempts have largely failed, mostly because he is so obviously lying about everything. He can’t play the truth card without a laugh track.

J: Trump needs a laugh track.

T: And subtitles. I think Kevin Nealon’s subliminal man would be a perfect translator.

Trump: “My wall”
Nealon: “My wall (penis)”
Trump: “National emergency”
Nealon “National emergency! (circle jerk)”
Trump: “Humanitarian emergency”
Nealon: “Humanitarian emergency! (Gimme my wall or I deport the entire cast of Machete)

J: He’ll probably go back to the same playbook as before, accusing Pelosi of being intransigent but not really offering any serious solutions.

T: A State of the Union address is supposed to list accomplishments … how is he going to threadt that needle? I mean, what’s he actually done?

J: He’ll talk up his tax cut, and probably talk about the economy, but other than that he really doesn’t have much to point to. Judges, maybe. But I suspect there’s going to be a lot of stuff that you wouldn’t normally hear in a State of the Union speech. And I’m sure he’ll try and get in a dig at Pelosi.

T: I suppose he’ll — well, he’ll just brag like a god dammed peacock about whatever he brings up, but I have a hard to finding something he can brag about. He’ll be spinning like a top, but the world is learning to wait until he stops spinning before they react.

J: Dreidel , dreidel, dreidel ….. makeamericagreatagaindreidel, dreidel, dreidel …

T: He’s been the Teflon Donald so far, but this could be a speech he’ll regret later. The narrative is in a dangerous place for him right now, and he’s about to provide confirmation bias for the centrists, not just the lefties.

J: He doesn’t realize how unpopular the wall actually is among the rank and file independents.

T: According to the latest AP/Norc poll: 80 percent of republicans still support him, but his overall approval rating is just 34 percent. That means independents have largely soured on him. 

J: He needs the independents.

T: Yep.

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