Trump’s 2020 bet: Build the wall (for real, this time) | John L. Micek

President Donald Trump (Capital-Star file)

President Donald Trump wants a wall. It just may not be the one his supporters thought they signed up for back in 2016.

Already walled off from the truth and effectively blockaded from reality, Trump has been apparently unable to construct a barrier high enough to ward off four Democratic 2020 hopefuls who led him by double digits in a Quinnipiac University poll this week.

The Connecticut-based university’s latest canvass showed former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris respectively holding 16-, 14-, 12-, and 11-point advantages in hypothetical match-ups, The Hill, a publication that covers Congress, reported.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising to see Trump, likely in response, ratcheting up his demands to finish his long-promised wall at America’s southern border with Mexico.

The administration is “[fast-tracking] billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively [seizing] private land and [disregarding] environmental rules,” so it can get the job done before next November, the Washington Post reported, citing current and former officials with knowledge of the matter.

Fast-tracking contracts and blowing off environmental rules are absolutely the kind of thoughtless and willful disregard for legislative and political norms we’ve come to expect from this wrecking ball of a White House.

And it’s too real estate developer for words for Trump to engage in a massive government land grab, through eminent domain, so he can satisfy his edifice complex.

Trump has reportedly batted aside any regulatory or legal concerns, telling his staff (jokingly, they say, but who knows?) that he’ll pardon them if they break the law on the way to finishing the wall.

But it’s clear that concerns about the 2020 campaign are firing Trump’s ardor to deliver on 500 miles of promised border barrier before the polls open. Trump has reportedly said failing to finish the wall would be a massive political embarrassment.

Well, it would be one in a long line of embarrassments, anyway, but no matter.

As the Post reports, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has only completed about 60 miles’ worth of construction — all of it in areas that had preexisting border infrastructure.

And that’s more than two years into Trump’s presidency. Assuming that means there’s 440 miles of construction left, that’s an impossibly high bar to cross — even for Trump, who regularly hurdles facts in a single bound — in the 14 months that remain until Election Day.

As the Post notes, the administration has rushed contracts and allowed construction companies to drag heavy equipment into environmentally sensitive areas — and justified it on national security grounds.

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As if to underline the absurdity of the whole affair, Trump acknowledged to lawmakers last year that actual immigration reform and enhanced border security are more effective than a physical barrier.

But he’s also remarked on the applause his tough talk on the wall gets him at his campaign rallies.

Bread, meet circuses. We believe the two of you each know the other?

That naked calculus should be reminder enough that what really fires Trump is not what’s good for the nation or national security, but rather what’s good for Donald J. Trump.

Such was the case in Biarritz earlier this week when the leader of the free world shed his constitutional responsibilities to shamelessly pitch his Florida golf resort to the leaders of the G7 nations like some late-night infomercial host.

In a cringeworthy moment as the world press looked on, Trump extolled the banquet rooms, parking, and seclusion of his Doral resort.

“It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” Trump said, according to the New York Times. “People are really liking it and plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units. And so each delegation can have its own building.”

Given Trump’s obsession with aesthetics and superlatives, it’s no great shock to learn that he’s been taking a hands-on interest in the appearance of his border wall, apparently insisting that it be painted black and be sharp and pointy on top like a medieval fortress or something.

And much like a parent who’s decided to just give in and placate an overtired child, the Army Corps of Engineers is going to tell contractors to just go ahead and paint it black, the Post reported.

Maybe, someday, as Mick Jagger once sang about painting something else black, Trump will “fade away and not face facts.” The rest of us, however, won’t be so lucky.

Trump will build a wall. And we’ll all be paying for it.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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