Today's Theme O'The Day will be this: Will Donald John Trump declare a national emergency in order to push Democrats to the wall (sorry) and force funding for a thing that's not a thing to be built?
If you listen to the pundits, they say, oh yes, yes. He will. Here's Robert Costa with his Very Important Inside Administration Sources, sharing their knowledge.
"Little downside to going "all out" now on the wall," Costa says, because it "rallies their voters, tests Dems' mettle, and gives POTUS a chance to be seen as fighting on his signature issue ahead of a likely rough year of probes and battles w/ House Dems."
Oh, well then. But there's more. There's the pesky little problem of holding the GOP together, given that going "all in on the wall" will surely tank some Senators' prospects for re-election even if it does give Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity chills down their legs.
And like clockwork, Hannity sticks his mouth out of his hidey-hole and predicts that Hair Fuhrer will indeed declare an emergency.
Apparently that's all it took for the Beltway to jump on that conclusion too. Hannity is a very powerful man, who can say a thing and make it be true before it ever even is true! That's some amazing mojo right there.
USAToday even jumped on the bandwagon, sort of, because this is our media environment now. No matter how outrageous, no matter how norm-shattering, no matter how destructive a thing is, if Hannity says it's going to happen, well, it's time for uncritical reporters to jump on the train. Can he do that? Why yes he can!
"Trump can surely test whether he has the power to declare a national emergency for this purpose," said Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor at Princeton University's Center for Human Values. "The National Emergencies Act allows him to declare a state of emergency without approval from anyone else, but then he has to stay within congressionally delegated emergency powers after that."
According to this same article, he can declare an immigration emergency in spite of the fact that none exists. Over and over again, metrics prove there is NO CRISIS AT THE BORDER. Congress can put a check on this, but of course, that would require Mitch McConnell to poke his head out of his shell and do the right thing. Yes, let's not all laugh at once.
So it would seem that Trump can indeed declare this "immigration emergency" and count on the Senate to backstop him. But will he? It takes all the leverage away, it doesn't end the shutdown, and it doesn't distract from the pain he's inflicting on federal workers.
It would be very difficult for me not to characterize a declaration like that as Trump's own Reichstag fire. It would then be incumbent upon us to stand up and defend the United States Constitution, to wedge vulnerable Republicans hard to defend the Constitution as they were expected to.
If he does this, how will we react? Is he willing to burn it all down? Because in the end, only 30 percent or so will stand firm with him, and I guarantee you, none of them will be government employees.
The government will still be shut down, the wall will still not be funded, but he will have lit the Constitution on fire. Is that really where we're going?