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Three weeks have passed since Donald Trump shut down much of the government because Congress won’t give him $5.6 billion in taxpayer money to build 200 miles of his illusory Wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Let’s be clear on one thing: There is no Wall. There never has been a serious plan to build a Wall. And there never will be a Wall. And that’s just fine with Trump, as long as he continues to keep the Wall as a political cudgel.

Like most everything else having to do with the so-called “Wall,” the government shutdown is nothing more than Trumpian political theater aimed at his base and their media enablers like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

The Wall idea was nothing but a memory-device cooked up by Trump campaign strategists frustrated that Trump lacked the mental focus to stay on his anti-immigrant message, according to Bloomberg Businessweekjournalist Joshua Green:

Inside Trump’s circle, the power of illegal immigration to manipulate popular sentiment was readily apparent, and his advisers brainstormed methods for keeping their attention-addled boss on message. They needed a trick, a mnemonic device. In the summer of 2014, they found one that clicked. ‘Roger Stone and I came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it,’ said [Trump advisor Sam] Nunberg. ‘It was to make sure he talked about immigration.

Initially, Trump seemed indifferent to the idea. But in January, 2015, he tried it out at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a presidential cattle call put on by David Bossie’s group, Citizens United. ‘One of his pledges was, ‘I will build a Wall,’ and the place went nuts,’ said Nunberg. Warming to the concept, Trump waited a beat and then added a flourish that brought down the house. ‘Nobody,’ he said ‘builds like Trump.’

And the rest is history: the call and response campaign rallies in which Trump asks his audience what they want, and they yell back “The Wall!”

Then he adds “And who’s going to pay for it,” to which the audience roars back, “Mexico!!!”

Now Trump, in his zeal to shut down government, seems to have forgotten about Mexico paying for the fake wall and he wants to put the cost on the American taxpayer.

But to be clear, there never was and never will be a serious plan for a Wall to span the 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border. The Wall was never anything but a campaign slogan cooked up by aides to keep Trump on message. It’s even less real than The Trump Foundation or Trump University.

Meanwhile the Securities and Exchange Commission, the I.R.S., Department of Agriculture and other important agencies remain shut. And nearly a million Federal workers – including Border Patrol guards and TSA airport screeners are forced to either stay home or work without pay because Trump is too unfocused to remember to bash immigrants without the memory-device of his mythical wall.

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