So is there going to be another shutdown this month? What are the odds?
Both sides appear to be dug in, yet many top political observers say it can’t happen. Either House Democrats will cave on the southern border wall, President Donald Trump has learned his lesson or he’ll find a way to declare victory, maybe by calling a national emergency.
Or, experts could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time, either. Could it be that, as stupid as the shutdown was, the politicians could do it again and so soon? Think about it, then consider this.
One of my favorite pieces of office art is a postcard I’ve had for years. The postcard is iconic and shows a beaming President Harry S. Truman holding the Chicago Tribune newspaper with a banner headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.” It was 1948 and Truman was the third vice president chosen by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who died before completing his fourth term. Truman had been a little-known Missouri senator who was mostly kept out of the loop and didn’t learn of the existence of the atomic bomb until after FDR’s death. Polls showed Dewey ahead and most of the experts — there were fewer then — fell in line.
My other favorite, pinned next to the postcard, is a column by Harry Enten for FiveThirtyEight that appeared a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election. The headline says, “Clinton-Trump Probably Won’t Be The Next ‘Dewey Defeats Truman.”
It read in part:
“We’re getting to that point in the presidential campaign — with one candidate leading by a lot — when the losing candidate’s supporters start to bring up the 1948 election — the one with the famous ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ headline when the polls were supposedly way off. Democrat Harry Truman, of course, defeated Republican Thomas Dewey, and Truman has been the patron saint of candidates trailing in the polls ever since.
“It’s a neat little story with a nice moral: Never count the underdog out. But Donald Trump’s supporters would be unwise to look to 1948 for comfort: Trump trails Hillary Clinton by more than Truman trailed Dewey, and the polling landscape in 2016 is much different than it was 68 years ago.”
All true, up to a point. Overly confident Republicans, dejected Democrats and all-knowing pundits read the tea leaves and got it wrong, like last time.
Was the shutdown the worst ever, the biggest mistake so far? Probably. Did it mess up, as in skew, 2018 economic and employment numbers? Absolutely. Do the majority of Americans who opposed the shutdown hold their elected officials to blame? Likely.