Humpty Trumpty sat on a Wall.
Humpty Trumpty had a great Fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men/
Couldn't put Trumpty together again.
So we're living in a nursery rhyme. What prescience the childhood verse has, for peering into the plight we're in. Right now, it reads as bracing political commentary.
The president, Donald Trump, just had a great fall from his own imaginary wall. His party and people — the "base" supporting his imaginary wall on the southern border — are going south, polls show. Clanging shut the government down for 35 days in winter caused untold pain for nearly a million in the federal workforce and their families. Who cares, it's only a third of a percent of the economy, Cabinet member Wilbur Ross told him. So Trump didn't mind too much until the Senate Republicans — hibernating through the crisis — woke and showed signs of revolt.
But it's not over yet. The president has vowed he will have his wall yet. He could shut down the government again as of Feb. 15, when the truce runs out. Or, he threatened, he could build the wall under emergency powers, which is exactly what we don't need, a president expanding his realm and power like a king.
For now, Trump got nothing for his stand on the wall, nothing at all when the government opened for business again. As the world knows, he lost this round to the artful new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. It was the worst fall of his presidency — and to a woman, no less.
Trump is known as a terrible loser and as an obsessive brooder who cares little for the human cost of his schemes. Empathy is not his strong suit. This is why I fear this fearful winter drama is in an intermission, a polar vortex pause, not over yet.
Perhaps imaginary walls are harder to tear down than real ones.
Nursery rhymes lead to literary archetypes in our politics today.
For example, Trump passes for the abusive father who rules his family through fear and tears it apart. It's a common trope in Eugene O'Neill plays.
On a pleasant note, Pelosi reminds one of Marmee, the wise mother in "Little Women." She is always teaching her four daughters life lessons as she keeps the household together while her husband is away at war. Pelosi also has to hold a feisty family together. Marmee's advice is seasoned and trustworthy; she has a spine of steel when tested. She is the moral center of the book. Remember Pelosi's words: Building a wall is immoral. Other Democrats have taken to calling it "medieval."
As the shutdown wore on, House freshman lawmakers, brimming with energy, paid a visit on the glum Senate floor. Such a scene is rare, but this brigade, who had to stand on the sidelines, delivered a message to their elders by being there: Open up the gates of the government. Now.
In fact, Republican resistance began crumbling that day, though they did not even say hello to their callers, who included bold Katie Hill, D-Calif., and brash Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
This sketch was a fleeting moment in a time of crisis. I am not saying it was a catalyst for the change, but it may have hastened the surrender. The entrance of the new young guard onto the floor was a perfect picture of the young rising up to teach their elders well.
That theme is well-known in fiction and in life. Accompanying that action was a rebellion from a younger, reserved senator, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who bitterly noted the shutdown was happening while the Chinese landed a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. The anguish in his voice was worthy of O'Neill.
"I don't even know what day it is anymore of this record-long shutdown, but the pretext for it is an invention," Bennet declared, loudly enough to be heard in the White House. "It is a creation of something in the president's mind."
Humpty Trumpty had a great fall indeed.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website Creators.com.