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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: The emperor’s new wall

Donald Trump was not in the Annapolis Valley July 2
Donald Trump was not in the Annapolis Valley July 2

Youth is wasted on the young. So is sleep.

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

Saltwire Network's regional columnist.

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 60 pound sack of drugs 50 feet in the air. Then, search Google for anyone ever killed by a cross-border 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.

 

Russell Wangersky can be reached at rwanger@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.

 

 

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