Walled Off | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Walled Off 

Taking a Gander: Trump's not-so Great Wall symbolizes all his dealings

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The early days of the Trump presidency were largely dominated by his mindless, short-circuited fixation on building an unbreachable wall between Mexico and the U.S. Since cracking down on illegal immigration had been a campaign promise—and because many Americans found the sheer number of annual undocumented residents to be alarming—Trump’s need to make good on his campaign promise was understandable.

Declaring that our neighbors to the south would pay for the barrier was always an iffy conjecture, but, when it became clear that Mexico would not be the one footing the bill, Trump declared the crisis a national emergency, raiding funding already committed to other purposes—including the military—and even petitioning private donors to help.

Trump seemed to have a clear vision of what he intended—a tall, beautiful deterrent to any northbound immigration. His words were clear; he bragged that no one could build a better wall than he and described how 20 of our country’s best mountain climbers had attempted to scale the newest-and-bestest design but failed.

The climber test, Trump boasted, illustrated the wall’s successful design. Not surprisingly, though, when several of the nation’s top climbers and boulderers were asked about it for a September 2019 Daily Beast article, they said they were unfamiliar with any such test, with a few saying that not only had they not been asked to consult on the project, but had they been asked, they wouldn’t agree to it.

The Pinocchios just keep coming, and it really doesn’t matter if it’s the president’s 18,000th or 100,000th lie. I like to think that Americans would have been so much happier just having a president who told the truth and honored the essentials of his solemn oath.

Today, the mostly incomplete wall is a disaster. One newly finished section failed when it was blown over in high winds, and an 8-year-old climber is reported to have successfully scaled an 18-foot replica without assistance. Adding a pinch of salt to the pains of Trump’s wall-building, two men, using a rudimentary rope ladder, made it over the top in seconds, one running for safety on the U.S. side of the border, and the other turning back when he saw border patrol vehicles approaching.

Remember, Trump had also bragged that the wall would be inexpensive. The original estimates had costs pegged at $10 million per mile but some have noted the price has essentially tripled. While such extravagance should buy taxpayers a wonderful wall, it is not impenetrable; critics have asserted that a cheap saw from Harbor Freight can zip right through it and there have been multiple breaches by both immigrants and drug traffickers.

Americans—both those who favored the project and those who always thought it ridiculous—are no longer seeing the construction as an essential national need. Those with engaged minds understand that it is not “walls” that protect us. But, that said, no one expects Trump to operate from a rational position.

Tacitly admitting another of his failures, Trump has sent his wall team back for revisions, hoping to make the barrier what it was supposed to be. The wall is now being painted black to absorb the heat of the sun, raising the costs even further, and creating long-term maintenance headaches. Trump has declared that the black wall's solar affinity makes it hot enough for frying eggs. Without adequate insulated gloves, it’s unlikely that daytime scalers will be playing Chopin in San Diego. With extreme temperature as a deterrent, Trump believes his latest tweaks will make “his” wall truly insurmountable.

Frankly speaking, Trump is one of the great wall-builders of history. Since his earliest days as a spoiled rich-kid businessman, he has been building his own personal walls of alienation: Stiffing construction companies on their bills; cheating the government of his tax obligations; leaving multiple banks holding the bag for his monster loans; creating a gulf between himself, science and academics; walling-off the legitimate watchdog-press; thoroughly nauseating respected world leaders; erecting a White House wall to keep the peaceful protesters at bay; and, above all, creating an impermeable barrier between himself and the majority of Americans.

It is those walls—the tragic barriers created by a life of using, marginalizing and demonizing others—that can never be climbed.

The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog. Send feedback to comments@cityweekly.net

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