— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2019
Courtesy of NYT:
Before it became the chief sticking point in a government shutdown drama that threatens to consume his presidency at a critical moment, President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southwestern border was a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate.
As Mr. Trump began exploring a presidential run in 2014, his political advisers landed on the idea of a border wall as a mnemonic device of sorts, a way to make sure their candidate — who hated reading from a script but loved boasting about himself and his talents as a builder — would remember to talk about getting tough on immigration, which was to be a signature issue in his nascent campaign.
“How do we get him to continue to talk about immigration?” Sam Nunberg, one of Mr. Trump’s early political advisers, recalled telling Roger J. Stone Jr., another adviser. “We’re going to get him to talk about he’s going to build a wall.”
Talk Mr. Trump did, and the line drew rapturous cheers from conservative audiences, thrilling the candidate and soon becoming a staple of campaign speeches. Chants of “Build the wall!” echoed through arenas throughout the country.
Now, Mr. Trump’s fixation with a border wall — the material embodiment of his keep-them-out immigration agenda — has run headlong into the new realities of divided government, pitting him against Democrats who reject the idea out of hand. The impasse is particularly remarkable given that even some immigration hard-liners do not regard the wall as their highest priority and fear that Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with it will prompt him to cut a deal that trades a relatively ineffectual measure for major concessions on immigration.
So this whole wall thing started simply as an idea for Trump to focus on so that he did not wander off topic, and now the entire government is shut down over it.
I swear every time I think that this presidency cannot get any more surreal, it proves me wrong.