As at least 400,000 American government workers face their first Friday without a paycheck, it doesn't hurt to stop ourselves just for a moment and ask, "Are we doing this right?" After all, this is a poker match being played by major characters leaving unpaid government workers as spectators to fend for themselves. They don't even appear to have a voice.
President Donald J. Trump would have you believe that he doesn't really care about their "silly" problems, all he cares about it getting the southern border wall he promised his base even though it doesn't do anything that the people who favor it want it to do. (See this story about where criminals are tunneling under the walls.)
Weak Approach to the Poker Table
As a (former) poker player, I know a little something about bluffing. I used to catch other players bluffing more often than most. As it turns out, I was better at catching others in a bluff than I was bluffing myself. Since I didn't like to bluff much, other players at the table assumed it would be easy to bluff me. That said, you can't play Texas Hold'em regularly and expect to win without bluffing.
That is what Trump is trying to do with the wall. He is trying to bluff his way into acceptance of "The Trump Wall." Here's the problem - he has shown his hand, and we know it is a bad one. The number one rule of bluffing is don't show your hand, even AFTER you have won with the bluff. Trump has been bluffing his way through his presidency, and he clearly shows himself to be a horribly weak player in the game of politics. There are just too many people out there to call him on everything he says - mostly the so-called "fake media" which, it turns out, and as we call all see, is clearly not fake. They nearly always have the evidence to back up their claims. (If I was sitting at a poker table with Trump and the media, I'd be more inclined to believe it was Trump who was bluffing.)
Listening to Entertainers
Clearly, Trump had gotten to a point that he didn't want to come to the table with the border wall issue. He believed that it had become a non-starter; that he didn't have enough support from Americans to make it happen. Then, the Sean Hannitys and the Ann Coulters of the conservative entertainment world warned Trump if he didn't keep fighting for the wall, he was going to lose his base. Trump acquiesced and restarted the battle.
Because of this, Trump decided he needed to show his base he could stand up to those mean Democrats who didn't want to give the right its "big, beautiful wall." However, he had one very big problem - he had already shown his hand.
No One Normal Likes the Wall
He has a lousy hand that experts far and wide, including the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and other major nonpartisan organizations, have said:
A. is going to cost a lot more than $5.7 billion dollars,
B. is easy to breach,
C. won't stop the illegal immigration the way he says it will. (most illegal immigration is done by visa overstays)
Because of this, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who are playing as a team, clearly have a much better poker hand. They already know what is in Donald Trump's hand. Since they already know, they are basically letting Trump follow through with his bluff until the end of it. The problem is, this isn't a poker game - it is simply "messing with real people's lives."
The Democrats know they have the better hand. The real question is, do they want to keep raising and counter-raising until they get everything? Or is there a little give? Trump may be bluffing, but he is the one who controls whether workers can get back to work or not.
Trump is counting on Pelosi's and Schumer's sense of decency to finally end this dispute. Trump, at the moment, is clearly showing that he doesn't care one iota about the workers, going so far as to lie about how many of them support him. He thinks that Pelosi and Schumer do care enough that they will capitulate so the government workers don't get to the unenviable position of having to lose their houses.
Unfortunately, despite his bluff, I think he has the upper hand here. Democrats do care more.