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Faced with a Newly Empowered Democratic Party, Trump Throws a "Temper Tantrum" in the Oval Office

Trump's game plan for dealing with a Democratic House? Hold his breath and stamp his feet.
Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

In a meeting that probably could have gone better, Donald Trump, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi got into an argument in the Oval Office with Trump repeatedly raising his voice. Mike Pence was also present but apparently remained silent the entire time:

President Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer clashed Tuesday over funding for the border wall, an explosive Oval Office encounter that ended with Trump declaring he’d be proud to shut down the government to get what he wants.

The stunning public spat, during which Schumer accused the president of throwing a “temper tantrum,” ended with no resolution and appeared to increase the chances of a partial government shutdown at the end of next week.

The meeting had to do with the spending bill due next week and, naturally, Trump demanded $5 billion dollars for his wall. The Democrats countered with $1.3 billion for border security as opposed to a wall that wouldn't work anyway and Trump announced that he would shut the government down over it:

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump said, insisting the public doesn’t want criminals and others coming into the country. “I’m going to shut it down for border securty [sic].”

One imagines that every single Republican on Capitol Hill cracked open their emergency bottle of scotch when that quote hit the air. Republican voters "love" government shutdowns for exactly the amount of time it takes for them to remember how it adversely affects them in any way whatsoever. Then they get very, very angry at whoever put their Social Security check on hold/closed down national parks/turned off the government service they rely on/etc. And there's Trump bragging, on tape, that he's the one responsible.

The rest of the country hates government shutdowns and the GOP relies on smoke and mirrors to spread blame around every time they cause it to happen. This is particularly important to do for the voters who don't really pay attention to politics. But it's really hard to convince people it's "both sides" when the Republican president takes credit for it.

After the brutal beating the party in power took in the midterms, a wise president would strike a more conciliatory tone. The people spoke and they very decisively rejected the president's vision. However, Trump has decided to continue to be combative, either through a mistaken belief that he can bully Democrats or a total lack of understanding what it means to have a Congress that is no longer a rubber stamp. Either way, this meeting sets the tone for the next two years and they're going to be ugly.