Trump’s visitor from outer space

By Gail Collins

The New York Times

Which would you rather have, a Donald Trump Wall or a Donald Trump Military Parade?

No fair saying neither. Trump’s been pushing hard for both, and sooner or later the man has to win something. So if you had to choose, which way would you go?


A. Parade, but there should be floats.

B. Wall, but maybe around Mar-a-Lago.

C. I don’t care as long as he doesn’t bomb anybody.

Reasonable answers! And I’ll give you an advance hint of how it’s working out: The wall option is toast.

Congress passed its big spending package last week, and the president’s request for wall money was ignored like a burp at a dinner party. All Trump got was $1.6 billion for stuff like fence repair.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill,” Trump tweeted, complaining that “the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.”

“Not fully funded” is a euphemism for “totally ignored.”

Twittering Trump also bitterly complained that Congress had not done anything about DACA reform – protection for the people who were brought here illegally as children. That was, indeed, strange on two points. You’d think the Democrats would have tried to do something. But the Dreamers are safe now because of court orders, and their supporters think they’ve got more time to work the problem out.

Much stranger was the fact that the guy demanding security for the Dreamers was exactly the president who had killed the DACA protection program in the first place. Why was he getting so worked up?

Excellent question! This sort of total transformation happens a lot in this White House. I feel the best explanation is that our president is occasionally taken over by a benevolent alien entity who changes his entire personality.

Remember that bipartisan immigration get-together he held back in January? When he begged members of Congress to pass “a bill of love” that would take care of those very same Dreamers? It was a swell moment. After which, the alien floated away, Trump retracted everything and made the famous remark about people from “shithole” countries.

During the spending negotiations, maybe the alien entity was taking Trump on a visit to other dimensions. That would explain why the president had absolutely no clue as to what had been going on during the meetings, which had been attended by members of his staff.

When it came time for the threatened veto, Trump transformed again, announcing he had to sign the spending plan because it included desperately needed funds for the military. But to prevent anything this dreadful from ever happening in the future, Trump added that he was “calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills.” After members of the House and Senate finished rolling around on the floor laughing, the world moved forward.

Except for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who told a Fox interviewer that he thought it would indeed be a good idea to allow the president to wipe out any pieces of the congressional budget that he didn’t like. When informed that line-item veto power had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Mnuchin said, “Well, again, Congress could pass a rule, OK, that allows them to do it.”

This is an administration that goes through high-ranking officials like Raisinettes at a movie. And yet Steve Mnuchin is still here.

So the spending negotiations were a disaster for the wall warriors. “How about going to Mexico and getting them to pay for it?” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cruelly.

We have listened to several conversations between Trump and the president of Mexico on this subject, all of which can be translated into:

Trump: “Look, all I’m asking is that you just don’t sayyou won’t pay for it.

President of Mexico: “Hahahaha. …”

But our chief executive does not give up! Trump came back with a stern tweet announcing that the Defense Department could build his wall, since, thanks to the new budget, “our Military is again rich.”

Clearly, there’s an alien entity somewhere in this: Trump threatened to veto the spending package, then announced he’d sign it only because it contained desperately needed funds for the impoverished military. Now, just a couple of days later, he feels that the Pentagon is swimming in so much extra cash it can afford to blow some on building a barrier along a border that has been stable since 1853.

The Department of Defense seems about as enthusiastic about paying for the wall as Mexico is. So, what next? Well, the military is going to give Trump that parade he wants. On Veterans Day. It’s billed as a no-tanks-invited celebration of the contributions of veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present. No mention of floats, but I could definitely imagine something nice involving the cast from “Hamilton.”

Not a bad trade. Everybody wants to honor veterans, and perhaps some concerned citizens will think about staging parades of their own, pointing out that the most important thing America owes its men and women in uniform is not to get them stuck in unnecessary conflicts.

And if anybody can come up with a float celebrating Trump’s bone spurs. …