Donald Trump didn’t just lose any old Senate vote on Thursday. He didn’t even just lose a vote on his signature issue. When 12 Republicans voted to block Trump’s national emergency declaration, they did so despite Trump’s personal lobbying and insistence that the vote was about Donald Trump. The Washington Post reports that, in calls to Republican senators, “the president spoke of the battle almost exclusively in personal terms — telling them they would be voting against him while brushing aside constitutional concerns over his attempt to reroute billions of federal dollars for a border wall.”
And it didn’t work on a dozen Republicans. The threats, the me-me-me, fizzled into what will be Trump’s first veto in more than two years.
In fact, the me-me-me approach may have hurt Trump’s effort. Republicans asked for information to put them on solid ground in opposing the resolution, and the White House did not provide it. The Defense Department didn’t tell senators what military construction projects would be cut. Mike Pence was Trump’s key negotiator with Congress, but he apparently wasn’t empowered to make a meaningful deal.
What Donald Trump brought to this fight was Donald Trump. And he lost. That loss came less than two months after he caved and ended his government shutdown. A little more than four months after Democrats won the House, and a little more than two months after the new Congress was sworn in.
Never underestimate the damage Trump still can do and continues to do—but even so, he is not handling this divided-government thing well at all.