Unlike a few other things I could mention, disappointment is in fact on a spectrum, ranging from minor “it would have been great if…” to more serious “why in the world didn’t they…” all the way up to “this is not what I signed up for.” Let me briefly illustrate: in George Lucas’ original draft for Return of the Jedi, the forest moon of Endor was populated not with Ewoks, but Wookiees like Chewbacca. Somewhere along the line, Lucas somehow got it into his head that having a space fantasy with an adorable motorized wastebasket and laser swords and tons of explosions was not doing enough to draw the little kids in, and so decided for the third movie that he was going to add teddy bear Indians. Who of course then proceed to humiliate and defeat the mighty Empire, although in fairness they did that mostly by providing cover for the one professional Wookiee on the scene to carjack an AT-ST walker. So if it had been an entire forest of Chewies, it would have been every bit as silly as a forest full of Ewoks, mainly because the audience would have been wondering why the Rebels just didn’t deploy the Wookiees more often. That’s mild disappointment. More serious disappointment is the type we saw in Episode I, when after a fifteen year hiatus Star Wars came blazing back…with Jar Jar Binks, podracing, and “spinning–that’s a good trick!” For a long time we tried to tell ourselves it was good, we tried so hard, we wanted to believe…but it was so bad that not only was that movie terrible, but it set a tone for Episodes II and III to follow, which in their own right were pretty decent, yet they carried the stain of “this is probably gonna suck” from Episode I and weren’t quite good enough to shake that legacy. Then of course for total and utter failure, there were Episodes VII and VIII, which I will not speak of further other than to say Star Wars is dead to me.
Right about now the level of disappointment in President Trump is somewhere between the Return of the Jedi and the Episode I level. It becomes understandable when you take a few things into account, but it’s too early to tell if I’m looking at this clearly, or if I’m just trying desperately to bring up “but…Darth Vader breathed at the end of the credits! R2-D2 did a thing! John Williams!” But look at this seriously. What did this budget fail to do and what, in the eyes of a neutral observer, did it accomplish? It is important to remember that at his core the president is not and never has been a doctrinaire conservative. He IS a populist. As such, that’s how he’s going to look at tough decisions, and I think that’s how he looked at this one. As I stated before, this budget is almost entirely status quo–right down to the cut-and-pasted prohibition on funding for long-dead ACORN. It not only ensures that our soldiers get paid, it funds the military like never before–which of course prompts normally-reliable and insightful Stefan Molyneux to throw on his “American imperialism” blinders and rant aimlessly about the military-industrial complex and how the war in Iraq was awful and really not provide any useful insights. It’s ok Stef, we’ll be back when you’ve stopped babbling. Because what Stefan and a lot of conservatives (not that Molyneux is a conservative) are not seeing is that to a populist, “funding the military” ranks much higher than “defund Planned Parenthood.” I mean really, how many years ago was there a scene in a major movie where the President-for-a-day went through and crossed out millions of dollars in silly spending, and yet no one cries out for that to happen save us conservatives? How many years have the Republicans controlled the House and with it the budget and yet continued to fund the baby abattoirs? Nobody cares. And to a populist, if nobody cares about it, he doesn’t care about it either. As far as he’s concerned, if the GOP couldn’t get its crap together to write the bill they claimed to want, that’s on them. He’s got his priorities and that’s what guides him.
But the Wall, you say. Where is the goddamned Wall? Where, indeed, when it is clearly laid out that the funds allocated to border security are explicitly NOT to go towards the Wall (and considering that they’re about 24.5 billion bucks short of the budget for it, it wouldn’t get very far anyway)? But here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure the President intends for the Wall, for DACA, for all the border security and immigration reform to happen in its own bill. What’s more, this is how it should happen. Conservatives (led down this path by shambling zombie NeverTrumpers) are decrying the ongoing mess of these massive omnibus budget bills one minute, and then complaining that their own things didn’t make it into the omnibus the next. Gotta pick one, guys. As for the President, I’m confident enough to bet that he doesn’t see the Wall or the lack thereof as a done deal. It’s coming, and soon. If it doesn’t, then not only will the GOP get shellacked in November, but I’d be willing to wager that no amount of tax cuts and stock market booms will save President Trump in 2020.
So right now, the President is dangerously close to the remainder of his time being Episodes II and III–yeah, okay, Obi-Wan’s character arc is awesome and Mace Windu was just a brilliant performance and Yoda actually fought with a freaking lightsaber but seriously, just can’t get past Hayden Christiansen and his awkward dialogue, and really, Backstreet Boys as Jedi? He’s not the only guilty party here, though. As I said before, he shares the blame, but not equally. For the bulk of disappointment, I’m looking squarely at the congressional GOP once again. Yes, congressmen and senators like Mark Meadows, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz did their part and opposed this. But this is what happens when we get “bipartisanship.” We get abominations like this that have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi out grinning and bragging that “we get more done in the minority”–and don’t let them fool you for a second. This is status quo with a few perks for the Republicans, the Democrats aren’t “accomplishing more” of anything they claim to support. But they know how the GOP base will respond to their victory lap, and they know how La Resistance will eat it up as well. They want everyone to think they won the farm when in reality they lost the back forty but no one’s gonna notice or care.
What is disgusting is they should have lost everything. A wise mentor of mine advised me early in my career to “let your sins be sins of commission, rather than omission.” Meaning of course that it’s a lot easier to excuse it if you try to do something that ends up being the wrong thing than it is to justify just not doing anything at all. The GOP continues to sin by omission against its longsuffering base voters, and while President Trump is just shy of Episode I level disappointment, the GOP took what could have been an opportunity to turn this ship around and have Han shoot first and proceeded to go full throttle past even MaRey Sue.
We’re not even talking about defunding Planned Baby Murder either–nobody was going to throw themselves in front of removing ten million bucks for students in Egypt. Holding the line–barely, and deep in your own territory to boot–when you hold all the cards is unforgivable, especially when it looks to all watching like you didn’t even try. Someone has pointed out that this carries the government through September, right up close to the midterms, and while that may give the feckless GOP a second chance to right itself, not only am I not going to bet on that, but I’d almost wonder if they were all giving themselves “primary insurance”–i.e. any incumbent RINO who gets a successful primary challenger will merrily skip right up to the podium to vote for the same crap in September in the knowledge that enough voters won’t notice that there’s a different name on the ballot, and will stay home.
President Trump owns his part of this by signing on with the GOP. He has an excuse and it ought to surprise no one, and I don’t think he’s done. The GOP, on the other hand, blew it big time.