Culleton: Shutdown stalemate has no end in sight

Author Poul Anderson wrote in his book “A Harvest of Stars” that “A fanatic is a man who, when he's lost sight of his purpose, redoubles his efforts.” President Donald Trump is such a fanatic.

The battle between Donald Trump and the Democratic House of Representatives seems to have no end. Trump will not accept any agreement that does not include $5 billion for his promised wall, so he has shut down critical parts of the government to force the Democrats to give up their opposition to the unneeded wall. Democrats in turn view the shutdown to be a ransom demand. They fear that if he gets his way on this hostage-taking he will use it again in the future on every issue. The stalemate continues and federal workers are suffering. The end is not in sight. It looks like we are stuck with Trump until January 2021. If so the Republicans in the Senate must carry the burden of keeping him in line until then. I offer the following predictions about the 2020 elections.


The Republicans need to offer someone else as their candidate for their presidential candidate. If they stick with Trump, then any likely Democratic candidate will win. A governor or ex-governor from the Midwest would be a useful choice for that party. John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, is already available and would attract voters from both parties.

Our own governor, Larry Hogan, has unique qualifications. He was re-elected to a second term after a successful first term as a Republican governor working with a Democratic legislature. Since the next president will potentially need to deal with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate that is a good background for the Republican national ticket. However, his previous health problems may discourage him from seeking another office.

The Democrats need to offer a candidate who is likely to attract moderate voters. He or she should have a proven track record in public office. We have had enough of amateurs. I have my favorite choice, but it is too early to state that name. Stay tuned.

Permanent damage has already been done to the government workforce. When I took the exam for federal service, I was looking for a safe job and a good retirement plan. I got those and soon was offered my choice of health plans. This was in 1960, long before Obamacare. Today I would pursue a different career

Perhaps too much attention has been spent discussing the false assertion in the recent BuzzFeed article that stated President Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. One false claim does not relieve the president of the dozens of other accusations. It is also noteworthy that the Mueller team broke its usual silence to correct the error.

Usually this column expresses concerns about the fate of the Democratic Party. But in the current climate damage to the Republican Party by Trump and his supporters is also worrisome. We need both parties.

As always your comments on this column, positive or negative, are always welcome. Indeed this columnist learns more from the brickbats than from the bouquets. I tune in to Fox News from time to time for the same reason. Preaching to the choir is largely a wasted effort. It yields no converts.