Editors' pickPolitics

John Kelly says that Donald Trump has learned something, Trump moves fast to prove him wrong

On Wednesday, Chief of Staff John Kelly emerged from the White House to check on his shadow and let everyone know that Donald Trump had realized that building a giant concrete barrier along America’s southern border was, and always had been, a profoundly stupid idea.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told a caucus of Hispanic lawmakers on Wednesday that he has persuaded President Trump that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is unnecessary, signaling a possible reversal on the key campaign promise.

Kelly demonstrated his Trump management skills by saying that some of Trump’s views were “not fully informed” rather than rolling his eyes and declaring that the whole idea of the wall was Trump’s real “cognitive test.” Instead, Kelly stated that Trump’s wall proposal had been part of a campaign, and that during a campaign all candidates make statements that aren’t ready for prime time. However, since taking office, the impracticality of building a concrete barrier from sea to vicious sea, had become obvious.

”This president, if you’ve looked what he’s done, he has changed a number of things.”

But then Trump got up, saw what had been said, and hurried to let everyone know that this is still the winter of our discontent.

Never changing. Never evolving. Never learning a damn thing. Trump 2020.

Trump’s obsession with making the wall invisible to eyeballs was clear in his Wall Street Journal interview last week where he spent twenty minutes hammering this point to people who weren’t arguing against it.

Mr. Trump: I can fully understand why you’d have to have vision. I’d like to be able to see 300 or 400 yards instead of we’re at a wall we have no idea who’s on the other side. Does this make sense or am I just wasting my time?

Hope Hicks: It’s what you’ve always talked; it’s consistent with what you’ve always said.

This is true. The wall is what Trump has always talked. And he is anxious to make it clear that his views haven’t become more informed. He never becomes more informed.

So $4 million has already been spent to create a brutalist art project demonstrating the continued ability of American contractors to pour concrete for profit. Trump’s latest request includes $18 billion for a “partial” wall, most of which reflects just moderate upgrades to existing fences, not a continuous 30 foot wall. Even so, the costs are likely a huge underestimate. In fact, even Trump’s initial request is actually $33 billion to support the additional roads, equipment, and people needed to service even this incomplete fence. Portion of this to be paid by Mexico? Zero.

Trump is missing a bet on the wall. He should announce that it will be built from bricks. Trump supporters could pitch in $25 for a regular red brick, $50 for a blue brick, and $100 for a genuine Trump gold-tone brick with their name stamped on one side. Yes, the resulting structure would be hideous, but …

America would save billions.  Trump could skim millions. And wall supporters would actually be able to make a pilgrimage to the site of their brick, where they could show to their children the place where they personally helped to stamp out freedom. A win all around.

As for John Kelly, he can now go back into his hole. Where he can continue to demonstrate his ability to keep the White House running along like clockwork, completely free of drama, and confident in the knowledge that Donald Trump never strikes back against people who disagree with him.

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