The Trumpies know that they lost last week, and badly.
As President Donald Trump announced in the Rose Garden on Friday that his quixotic bid to secure more than $5 billion for a border wall would end with no money, he was met with applause from his Cabinet secretaries and senior aides.
But the clapping belied a pervasive sense of defeat.
Instead of emerging victorious, many of Trump's allies are walking away from a record-breaking government shutdown feeling outplayed, not least by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The President is now more unpopular than he was before the shutdown began, sacked with blame for the 35-day lapse in funding.
Friday's announcement was an extraordinary comedown that left many in the White House and those who support Trump marveling at the futility of the preceding four weeks of brinkmanship. In the eyes of some aides and outside advisers, an entire fruitless month has passed that cannot be recouped, a waste of the most valuable asset a White House has: the President's attention and time.
"A humiliating loss for a man that rarely loses," one Trump adviser said. "I miss winning."
But press briefings are back, and if you're wodering why, it's because the Trumpies want to get a hold of the narrative again. It looks like Dr. Propaganda has ordered 100ccs of regime change stat in Venezuela and Team Trump is on board for a classic wag the dog scenario, that will almost certainly result in either a miscalculation or purposeful move leading to military action.
The United States on Saturday called on the world to “pick a side” on Venezuela and urged countries to financially disconnect from Nicolas Maduro’s government, while European powers signaled they were set to follow Washington in recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful leader.
In heated back-and-forth exchanges at a United Nations Security Council meeting, the opposing camp led by Venezuela and Russia, which has invested heavily in Venezuela’s oil industry, accused Washington of attempting a coup, and lambasted Europeans’ demand that elections be called within eight days.
Guaido, who took the helm of the National Assembly on Jan. 5, proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday. The United States, Canada and a string of Latin American countries recognized the young leader in quick succession. Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013 and has the support of the armed forces, has refused to stand down.
But on Saturday Guaido gained support from a key military official. Venezuela’s defense attache to Washington, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, told Reuters that he has broken with the Maduro government and recognized Guaido as interim president.
Speaking at the U.N. meeting called by the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Maduro’s “socialist experiment” had caused the economy to collapse and reduced ordinary Venezuelans to rooting through dumpsters for food.
“Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. ... Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo told the council. “We call on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role.”
Pompeo also called on the international community to disconnect their financial systems from Maduro’s regime. Washington has signaled it was ready to step up economic measures to try to drive Maduro from power, but on Saturday Pompeo declined to elaborate on any such plans.
We're not that far our from a "Coalition of the Willing™" scenario, because Trump's gonna need to throw a crappy little country against the wall just to prove he's serious after getting smoked by Nancy Pelosi on his wall, and it's definitely looking like Venezuela is the next big winner in a long line of countries that the US will smack around in order to make voters forget about garbage domestic policy.
At least it's not Iran, I guess.