The em­peror’s new wall

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Rus­sell Wanger­sky can be reached at rwanger@thetele­ — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

Youth is wasted on the young. So is sleep.

When I was younger, I slept soundly — but those days are in the past.

I’m lucky; I still drop right off. But I wake up in the mid­dle of the night, set off by a noise or the creak of the house set­tling, and some­times, more and more of­ten, I’m awake for hours.

Be­tween 3:30 and 4 a.m. Mon­day morn­ing, I was wide awake. I heard the beetling street sweeper off in the dis­tance, chew­ing its slow path along the side streets.

I try to think about in­con­se­quen­tial things; at least, I try to think about things I have no real hand in. If I think about work or fi­nances or the jobs I’ve agreed to do, it’s just a recipe for stay­ing awake.

Some­times, I plan clap­board­ing or trim­ming out win­dows, be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent and prac­ti­cal. Some­times, I think about a stone wall for some fu­ture herb gar­den. Last night, for some rea­son, it ended up be­ing a dif­fer­ent wall.

For some rea­son, it was U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s much-bal­ly­hooed bor­der wall with Mex­ico, a wall that Trump has sug­gested will be as much as 50 feet high and one that he has in­sisted the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment will pay for.

And sud­denly, in the night, it struck me that even Don­ald Trump doesn’t re­ally be­lieve that there will be a wall — and maybe he never did.

Com­ments from Trump on a flight to Paris last week make it all more far-fetched.

“One of the things with the wall is you need trans­parency,” Trump told re­porters.

“You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with open­ings, but you have to have open­ings be­cause you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.”

There are rea­sons for that, ap­par­ently.

“As hor­ri­ble as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have peo­ple on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over,” Trump con­tin­ued. “As crazy as that sounds, you need trans­parency through that wall.”

Just process that for a minute, and think about the en­ergy in­volved with throw­ing a 60pound sack of drugs 50 feet in the air. Then, search Google for any­one ever killed by a cross­bor­der drug toss.

And if you don’t be­lieve that Trump is just say­ing what­ever comes into his head at any par­tic­u­lar time, think about his next flight of rhetor­i­cal wall fancy.

“There is a chance that we can do a so­lar wall,” Trump told re­porters. “We have ma­jor com­pa­nies look­ing at that. Look, there’s no bet­ter place for so­lar than the Mex­ico bor­der — the south­ern bor­der. And there is a very good chance we can do a so­lar wall, which would ac­tu­ally look good. But there is a very good chance we could do a so­lar wall.”

So, a good-look­ing 50-foot so­lar wall with trans­parency that some­one else will pay for.

Right. It was go­ing to cost US$1.6 bil­lion to build 70 miles of wall in 2018 — a re­quest of US$1 bil­lion to build 60 miles of wall this year was re­jected by Congress.

The wall’s also smaller than it was: once touted as stretch­ing the 2,000-mile length of the bor­der, Trump is now say­ing only 700 to 900 miles of wall will ac­tu­ally be built.

The to­tal $21.6-bil­lion cost seems to fluc­tu­ate, and no one has money to build it.

Al­most asleep by then, I thought about how this same man has all of the power of the U.S. mil­i­tary at his fin­ger­tips.

So much for sleep­ing.

“And sud­denly, in the night, it struck me that even Don­ald Trump doesn’t re­ally be­lieve that there will be a wall — and maybe he never did.”

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