Credit: Michael Vadon-Flickr

It looks like the White House has conceded on their demand that the must-pass spending bill include a down-payment on Trump’s border wall, leading Josh Marshall to call it “abject surrender.” He goes on to point out that this has happened before.

This does fit the pattern with the earlier Obamacare repeal debacle – aggressive stance, bluster, confidence followed by abject surrender.

We’ve seen this in other situations as well. After railing against Mexico on the campaign trail, Trump’s visit with the president of that country was described as “subdued.” We saw the same thing with China. No country other than Mexico was the subject of such harsh rhetoric up until Trump met with President Xi at Mar-a-Lago. All of the sudden they developed a “warm rapport.”

These bouts of surrender are followed by different kinds of rationalizations. At times, Trump points the finger of blame at others for his own lack of follow-through — as he did with the failure of Obamacare repeal. On other occasions, he suggests that his opponents actually pre-surrendered to him — as he did with China. Often, as soon as he has surrendered, he bounces back and starts the bluster all over again with promises that he’ll do what he said later. That is the one we’re hearing now about the border wall.

My sense has always been that this particular pattern is related to Trump’s mercurial temper. After all, he didn’t seem subdued when he talked with President Enrique Peña Nieto on the phone and threatened to send U.S. troops to Mexico to deal with their “bad hombres.”

It is very likely that with Trump, it is impossible to know from one situation to another how he will react. That is why some of my friends in the mental health community question whether or not he is also bi-polar. If so, it would make sense that he embraces the idea of being unpredictable. He might not know how he’s going to react in any given situation and wants complete flexibility to be able to respond based on how he feels at the moment. In other words, he wants to act like a two year-old.

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