US president Donald Trump has spent another week banging his head against that infamous wall between America and Mexico.
In a hectic week defending his reputation as president against accusations that he is unprincipled, impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective, these qualities came to the fore in two speeches about the wall.
The wall is a barrier between the US and Mexico designed to keep out illegal immigrants, drugs and criminals.
As one of the major policies of his election platform, crowds chanted in favour of the wall at his rallies.
Trump promised to build a $25 million wall that Mexico would pay for, which the Mexico government has refused.
But everyone is confused about what he plans to do about the wall.
On Wednesday, Trump outlined his funding and legislative agenda for the next three months to Republican leaders. He would not, he promised, shut down the government if funding was not forthcoming.
On Thursday, he gave a speech telling Congress he would not sign off on government funding past September 30 if they did not give him money to build the wall.
Which policy statement is correct, and does it really matter?
Whatever Trump is threatening is likely to change many times between now and the end of the month, depending on his whims and early morning tweets from ‘the devil’s workshop’, what staffers call his White House bedroom.
Fears over shut down
“If it happens, it happens. If it’s about border security, I’m willing to do anything. We have to protect our borders,” said Trump.
“I don’t like the idea of shutdowns.”
“I don’t see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right now.”
Former President Barack Obama presided over government shut downs, which are a common tool for America’s leaders to wield to bring Congress into line over their legislative plans.
The last were in January and February 2018 in rows over immigration and government spending.
Seven other shut downs took place between 1981 and 2013.
Republican and Democrats in Washington are talking down the prospect of government grinding to a halt as they are eyeing their seats for the forthcoming mid-term elections on November 6.