Hi, pals. The government might shut down, Steve Bannon got subpoenaed and various senators have selected their hill to die on: the one where the president said "shithouse" instead of "shithole" in a meeting last week.
The government is facing another shutdown deadline, a DACA fix is on the ropes (again) and we're still arguing about exactly what derogatory term President Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries last week.
Some lawmakers have dismissed the comments as a distraction amidst intense DACA negotiations. But language like the kind the president used last week cuts to the core of what his presidency means — and what it's doing to foreign relations, to the business of governing, and to the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, nearly 6,000 of them in Pennsylvania, and more than 22,000 in New Jersey.
Last week Trump, in a bipartisan meeting at the White House, reportedly questioned why the U.S. was allowing in immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti and African nations. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, confirmed the remarks a day later; Sens. Tom Cotton and David Purdue, both Republicans, first said they didn't recall those remarks and then conveniently remembered that Trump hadn't said anything of the sort. He said "shithouse" instead! Big difference, pals.
The Washington Post reported last night that this conversation took place during a bipartisan meeting over DACA that was actually supposed to go pretty smoothly. On the phone that morning, Trump had praised a plan that Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham were working out; two hours later, the pair reportedly arrived at the White House to find Trump surrounded by immigration hardliners like Cotton and raring for a fight.
These are familiar themes, of course: the vulgarity, the racially-charged comments, the notion that Trump changes his mind based on the last person he's spoken to are tropes you could apply to half the big news from the last year.
And so the latest comments aren't a distraction: they're how this president does business. And the way he does business is tying up efforts to find a solution to DACA by a deadline that he set — and unleashing yet another debate over the way our lawmakers literally perceive reality. This presidency is a year old on Saturday. This is how it works now.