On Friday, in a move that most commentators viewed as a desperate attempt to prove to his base he was still fighting for his promised border wall, President Trump declared a national emergency. He knew, from the many weeks of effort by Republicans, that he couldn’t get the funding he needed through Congress. The national emergency was a necessary step to be able to say he’d done it all: averted the impending shutdown, skirted Congress, and made a move to get the funding he needed for his wall.
The President, who previously shut down the government for 35 days to try to get funding for the wall only to cave, executed a two-part plan. He cited an “invasion” at the Southern border as justification for the emergency, a decision that will be challenged in court. (Democrats have bet on the courts siding with them, but it’s not a slam-dunk.) Then Trump signed a budget deal including $1.4 billion for the wall—less than a quarter of what he had asked for—and avoided another shutdown.
The response on the right to Trump’s actions ranged in the way we often see splintering when the president does something that smacks of disregard for checks and balances. Democrats and more moderate Republicans voiced fears that the move would set a dangerous precedent if he succeeds.
“The simple fact is that failing to get the budget you want from Congress isn’t a national emergency, regardless of how much you invoke national security and talk about invasion,” Jonah Goldberg wrote in the National Review. “And it is palpably obvious that most of the people cheering the news aren’t relieved that a pressing national-security threat is about to be averted. They’re cheering because they see this as a political triumph for the president.”
Even more directly, the editors of the Bulwark warned, “now that President Trump has declared a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build his wall, Republican legislators face a time for choosing: Support Trump or the rule of law.”
Several Republican lawmakers have also voiced their displeasure with the plan, including Sen. Marco Rubio. “We have a crisis on our Southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the constitution,” Rubio said in a statement Thursday.
But some right-wing pundits, many of whom have risen from the more anti-immigrant, alt-right media structure that helped elect Trump, are just excited for a wall. Trump’s not delivering on his promise—that, you’ll recall, was to have Mexico pay for the wall—but he’s at least not letting the Democrats totally win. Some implied that it’s all about winning—that it was OK to break the rules, because liberals would do the same. Others said that it was a totally normal tool for a president to use, because of course this is a national emergency. And still others have said that by not forcing us into another shutdown and managing a deal that includes border wall funding, the president once again betrayed his voters.
Here’s a taste of the reaction:
Ann Coulter, who has notably turned on Trump over his failure to stand up for the wall, converting from one of his biggest cheerleaders to someone who called him “the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States”:
Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren:
Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter:
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk:
Many right-wing pundits said relatively little about the declaration. They stuck to two other stories that fit more neatly into the emotions-driven playbook for maintaining support for a rule-flaunting president: one about the unconfirmed allegations that Jussie Smollett staged his attack by Trump supporters and another about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend.