Right-wing pundits are not happy that President Donald Trump has agreed to reopen the federal government while he negotiates with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Congress over funding for border security.
Upon hearing the news, conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”
Michael Malice — an anarchist author, columnist and media personality — posted a similarly mean-spirited tweet: “Apparently a wall isn’t as good as a cave.”
Tomi Lahren, a Fox Nation host, tweeted “It’s President Trump, not President Pelosi. Act like it.”
Breitbart, the alt-Right brainchild of former White House chief strategist to President Trump Steve Bannon, proclaimed on its website “GOVERNMENT OPEN … AND BORDER. NO WALL.”
As the saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies?
Read more commentary:
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Indeed, right-wing pundits caused the mess that became the 35-day government shutdown in the first place — by bullying the president into a decision he originally rejected: close the government, and then negotiate.
Rush Limbaugh complained on his radio show at the time that Trump was “getting ready to cave” on getting money for the wall in the budget.
Laura Ingraham vented on her Fox News show: “Not funding the wall will go down as one of the worst, worst things to happen to this administration. … Forget Mueller. The wall, the wall, the wall — has to be built.”
Steve Doocy was even more blunt on Fox & Friends in his criticism of President Trump’s preference for keeping the government open while negotiating with the Democrats for border funding: “If there’s not a shutdown, he’s going to look like a loser.”
Pundits are motivated by crass self-interest
Of course Ann Coulter, Michael Malice, Tomi Lahren, Breitbart News, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Steve Doocy and their ilk have a First Amendment right to make disparaging comments about the president of the United States. But the president has an Article 2 responsibility to make sure the government is functioning.
To make the point another way, President Trump’s reactionary critics need to remember that there are more important things in life than trying to sell books, increasing TV and radio ratings, generating more page views on a website, and securing additional followers on Twitter. And make no mistake about it, crass self-interest is what motivates these commentators.
They certainly aren’t concerned about furloughed federal workers who are struggling to make ends meet and the rest of the American people who depend on the federal government to solve the myriad of complicated problems that impact their safety and well-being on a daily basis, such as airport security; time-sensitive scientific research; public health inspections at chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites; inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and additional foods at high risk of contamination; and programs for survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. All of these were among the government services cut back or placed on hiatus during the shutdown.
Trump should be commended, not attacked
Trump, in contrast, is required to remember that the federal government must do its job: the Constitution vests the executive power — all of it — in the president of the United States. No one, not even an elected official as significant as Speaker Pelosi, has the constitutional responsibility that President Trump does.
The president’s decision on Friday to reopen the government, like his decision on Wednesday to postpone the State of the Union address until after the government shutdown is over, demonstrates that he recognizes his immense constitutional responsibility. In fact, he said on Friday that he decided to revert to his original preference for negotiating for border funding while the government remains open in order to take “care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown.”
President Trump should be commended for his decision, not condemned for it.
Scott Douglas Gerber is a visiting professor of political theory at Brown University and a law professor at Ohio Northern University. His nine books include, most recently, “The Art of the Law: A Novel.”