Memo, shutdowns, speeches: Drama and governance are not the same
Six weeks into the new year, White House dramas are coming and going with little enduring effect on the republic at large.
Last month, President Donald Trump’s remarks to lawmakers expressing a reluctance to accept refugees from “shithole countries” generated noise but no resolution on immigration.
That is, for all the denunciations, foreign protests, clarifications and partial denials, the laws, administrative crackdowns and policies remain as they did before.
Also last month, Democrats in Congress fussed and fumed before voting to temporarily extend the federal government’s spending authorization, demanding protection for young immigrants brought here illegally as children.
A three-day “shutdown” ensued before Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his colleagues called off their protest action.
Will the citizens remember?
Trump and the Republicans proclaimed victory. Dissidents in the Democratic Party expressed anger, while lawmakers from states and districts expecting competitive elections quietly breathed a sigh of relief that they wouldn’t be blamed for the disruption.
Trump soon delivered a high-profile State of the Union speech that won plaudits mainly for the acid-free tone in which it was delivered.
This week, a new spending drama rears its head.
Government funding officially runs out again Thursday. Deals on budget limits and immigration remain unlikely.
On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and colleagues were reported to be weighing how to keep defense hawks satisfied with increased military spending levels.
Trump set a March 5 deadline to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program for so-called Dreamers. But a court fight might render that deadline soft.
Last week, life was all about the so-called Nunes memo.
House Republicans, with Trump’s permission, released the four-page missive critical of procedure in the FBI’s pursuit of one figure in the so-called Russian collusion investigation.
FBI officials advised against the disclosure but were overruled. Democrats want their dissenting memo also to be released.
Trump has made noise about being vindicated — which even Republicans in the Congress have said is not the case.
The bottom line is this: Bob Mueller remains special counsel. Rod Rosenstein remains deputy U.S. attorney general. Jeff Sessions quietly remains the U.S. attorney general. All this, despite months of public and private complaining about each from Trump.
Life in America goes on pretty much as it did before the shutdown drama, the vulgarity drama, the speech drama, and the memo drama.
The stock market is plunging for the moment — but of course that has little to do with the presidency.