It has long been axiomatic that Republicans would always get blamed for a shutdown—regardless of the merits. This was partly a function of it being less plausible to believe that Democrats, seen as the party of big government, would want to shut down governmental functions. Trump is the first Republican president I’ve seen who defied this rule.
Here, we have a president displaying not only that he isn’t afraid of a shutdown battle with Democrats, but also that he welcomes it. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” he said.
National Review editor Rich Lowry believes this was a tactical mistake for Trump. “The first rule of shutdown fights is never to say that you want a shutdown,” Lowry writes. The only problem here is that the old rules don’t apply to Trump.
Trump has been known to grandstand, only to back down later (just as he has been known to be conciliatory, only to backslide later). He can sometimes justify this as a negotiation tactic, and other times he simply pretends he never said it. It seems implausible that Trump would actually accede to being blamed for what Pelosi (who arguably started this whole thing by using the words) termed a “Trump shutdown.”
It’s impossible to know how this will play out, but I score the opening round in Trump’s favor.