A vain emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who promise him they will make him the best suit of clothes. The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The con lies in that the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged “clothes”, but they all pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they mime dressing the emperor who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true but continues the procession. (Wikipedia’s plot summary of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen in his Fairy Tales Told for Children published in 1837)
Hm. Let’s substitute President Trump for the emperor, border crisis for clothes, White House staff and Cabinet members for ministers, the American people for the townsfolk, and a refugee child for the child in the crowd.
A vain Emperor Trump who cares about nothing except building a border wall because that was a campaign promise he made (along with the promise that Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall) hires Fox News to help manufacture a national emergency on the southwestern border of the United States. Fox News (along with a merry band of radio talk show hosts including Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham) promises the Emperor that the network will make the biggest, baddest national immigration emergency ever created to show off the need for a border wall. They convince the Emperor that the border crisis will be invisible to anyone unfit for his position, or the “hopelessly stupid.”
The con lies in that there is no national emergency at the border and the wall is not the best option for border security at all. No one, not even the Emperor or his Cabinet members, can really see the national emergency but they all pretend they can for fear of looking stupid or unfit for their positions. Finally, the Emperor goes on national TV to deliver a major address to the American people about the national emergency at the border, the desperate need for the wall and not to worry about the 800,000 federal employees who will have no paychecks until the wall is included in the budget – that is the US budget, not the Mexican budget. The Republicans “uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid.”
Finally, a refugee child illegally detained at the border cries out from her miserable camp conditions, please help me – I am hungry, cold, and afraid. Where is my family?
Indeed, where are the families of the 800,000 federal employees who are also feeling hungry, cold and afraid as the longest shutdown in American history rolls on into the second weekend in January, 2019 and a vain Emperor Trump holds a nation hostage for a campaign promise he never really made.