Name: JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III
A.K.A.: The Executioner
Position: Hammer of the Poor
Years of Experience: 45.2
Trump wants people to believe that a government shutdown early next month is something Democrats should fear politically, but the most telling words out of the White House Tuesday, in an otherwise contemptible statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, signaled an awareness of two things: First, that Republicans understand the weakness of their position; and second, that they know Trump has cut their legs out from under them. The question facing Democrats now isn’t whether they can make demands, it’s how much Republicans will part with to make the damage they’re doing to themselves go away.
Tuesday’s strange theatrics fell against the backdrop of the December 8 deadline to fund the federal government. Government shutdown politics are delicate, but not terribly mysterious. Typically they arise in times of divided government, and in general have been defined by Republicans issuing extraordinary ransom demands of Democratic presidents in exchange for their votes to keep the government running. They have never arisen in than era of unified government, but the Republican Party’s legislative incompetence has thrown open the possibility that they won’t be able to keep their own government open.