When news that congressional negotiators had reached a budget agreement to keep the government open broke on Monday night, conservatives reacted with outrage.
Or at least the conservatives Donald Trump listens to did. Call it the Fox News Shadow Cabinet.
But overnight, the reality of the situation – that the public blamed the GOP much more for the recent shutdown over border wall funding and would likely do so again – settled in. By Tuesday morning, the Shadow Cabinet had skipped over the “bargaining” and “depression” stages of grief and slid right into “acceptance.”
It started with “Fox & Friends.” The hosts of the morning show, which Trump is known to watch, had spent a chunk of December and January cherry-picking poll data in order to tell the president that the public was siding with his position on the border wall fight. Now that that turned out to be untrue, the hosts spent Tuesday morning begging him to sign the budget deal while flattering him that it’s a good start, and that they bet he’s got “something else up his sleeve” to get even more money.
In the afternoon, Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the side of grudging acceptance. Limbaugh’s opposition to the December deal reportedly helped convince Trump to back out of it, reluctantly came on board:
| “He can portray it as a win because the Democrats were offering zip, zero, nada even though it’s less than what Trump said he wanted. Then the president can continue in his efforts…Nobody can say he isn’t trying. Nobody can say he’s caved on the premise of controlling illegal immigration and shoring up the border.” |
This is a far cry from December, when Limbaugh was furious with the president for letting $1.6 billion in wall money get stripped from the budget deal. The new deal has less than that – $1.375 billion – and limits that keep the money from being used on the types of 30-foot-high concrete walls that Trump wants, and Limbaugh is praising him for being a fighter.
Trump himself seemed grumpy about it on Tuesday, saying he “wasn’t happy” about the deal and was “studying” it, but still indicated he planned on signing. Perhaps this is what helped Sean Hannity, believed to be the right-wing media personality whose opinions most influence the president, make the decision to tell Trump to go ahead and sign the deal. This was a huge turnaround from the night before, and certainly a shift away from Hannity’s approach in December and January, when he was one of the loudest voices urging Trump to hold out for full wall funding.
Wednesday morning, CNN reported that Trump will indeed sign the deal, though during a pool spray in the Oval Office around lunchtime, he said he was still thinking about it.
Government funding does not run out until Friday night, so Trump can take the next two days to let his congressional allies complain and try to blame the Democrats for his capitulation. But with polls showing that there is no appetite for another shutdown, and with Republicans having taken the brunt of the blame for the last one, it seems as if even Donald Trump, who usually inhabits his own reality, has seen the light in this one.