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No one made a count of how many times in the election campaign Donald Trump said he was going to build a wall and that Mexico was going to pay for it. But it was surely in the hundreds. And he was defiant about it. And his supporters loved it. They were gaga.

But last week, the wall got a big no from Congress.

In one of the weirdest days yet for the Trump administration, the President stood before the cameras with a foot-high budget bill. Hardly anyone, least of all himself, he noted, had even read the damn thing.

He went on about what a “ridiculous situation” it was and vowed, “I will never sign another bill like this again.”

Earlier in the day, Fox and Friends had condemned the budget. The President was watching, as he usually does. His policy briefings come via panels of talking heads, the Fox ones chief among them.

After they had ripped into the budget, Mr. Trump followed with a tweet saying he might very well veto it. Panicked advisers came forth to persuade him not to do that. They knew he had a soft spot for great gobs of military spending and emphasized how the budget had delivered on that priority. They changed his mind. He signed on, telling the cameras numerous times that the military buildup was the only reason.

He angrily referenced the wall, saying there was only a pittance in the budget for it. He wanted US$25-billion. What he got was US$1.6-billion total for all border security measures. The Mexican border runs almost 2,000 miles. The budget had enough for a barrier that could almost extend from Toronto to Hamilton.

Other anti-immigrant measures like money for new detention centres weren’t in the budget. A whole range of anti-environmental measures were cut out. So much for Scott Pruitt’s plan for blowing up the Environmental Protection Agency. The budget also had funding for Planned Parenthood, a Republican no-no. It saved foreign aid and health and education programs. For a Republican Party that is supposed to loathe deficits, spending was through the roof.

While lawmakers like Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were pleased, conservative commentators like provocatrice Ann Coulter were apoplectic. “CONGRATULATIONS, PRESIDENT SCHUMER!” she tweeted.

As happens so often with this government, the news was soon overwhelmed by other stories. Massive protests calling for more gun-control measures took place the next day. Mr. Trump, his party long in the back pocket of the National Rifle Association, was not seen. He’d been sending out mixed messages ever since the day of the Parkland shooting. Now the kids were calling him on it.

The only good thing about the gun protests for the President were that they wiped the news of the budget, a story that deserved maximum coverage, off the front page. Then came Sunday and the Stormy Daniels 60 Minutes interview. The porn star alleged that some goon had threatened her against ever speaking about her association with the President. The only good news for Trump in that was that it overshadowed the gun protests. Evangelicals are a major support group of the President’s – a group who are very much opposed to extramarital sex, pornography, crude language and the like.

What a three days it had been. What a trifecta. The “ridiculous budget situation,” the gun protests and Stormy. For bad news, kind of hard to top, you would think.

Or, maybe not. Instead of a subsequent free-fall in Trump’s popularity, how about a lift? Numerous polls to start this week showed his job approval numbers nudging up above 40 per cent, close on the approval rating for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A CNN survey had Mr. Trump up to 43 per cent, a poll in The Economist at 41. Politico, which had him at 42, did a sounding board on the Stormy effect. It found that while voters tended to believe her, the scandal wasn’t hurting Mr. Trump’s standing.

Not much does. The world is upside-down. The worse he does, the better he does.

Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had sex with Donald Trump before he was president, says she had been threatened in 2011 to discourage her from discussing the relationship.


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