President Donald Trump's "total ineptitude" has combined with his fixation for a border wall to bring the federal government to the brink of shutdown, MSNBC's Chris Hayes explained Friday.
"It was arguably the central theme of Trump's candidacy, the signature proposal of a campaign otherwise light on policy and a rallying cry for his base. Donald Trump would build a wall on the southern border, and as the crowd would cheer, Mexico would pay for it," Hayes reminded. "But once he took office, it became clear, as it always should have been, that Mexico, of course, had zero intention of paying for Trump's wall.
"So the president looked to another source of funding, namely you, the American taxpayer," Hayes observed. "Getting Congress to foot the bill turned out to be harder than it looked, mainly because we don't actually need a wall -- border security is already tough."
Hours before the deadline, with no deal in sight, Hayes asked Republican strategist Steve Schmidt to explain why the Republican White House and Republican Congress had failed to pass a budget.
"Steve, do you see this as essentially about the central wall promise he's trying to keep?"
"It's certainly about that, Chris, but it's also about the chaos and the incompetence of the governing majority, both at the executive branch and in the Congress," Schmidt replied.
"Once again, we're flirting with a government shutdown, we see a total incompetency around the ministerial functions of governing," Schmidt continued. "It just -- I think it's about the wall, it's about a dozen things, but nothing greater than just the total ineptitude of this governing majority."
Jason Johnson, the politics editor of The Root, agreed that incompetence had resulted in the budget crisis.
"The core issue here, we have seen he's a bad business manager, a bad deal maker. He's not a good hostage taker either," Johnson suggested. "He keeps screaming 'I'm the captain now!' And he's telling people what he's going to do, but he can't even control his own party. Until the Republicans actually feel that they can negotiate with the president, as opposed to him saying one thing on Thursday and then saying something else on Friday, they can't really work anything out."
Schmidt said it was clear that the White House didn't even know it's own position.
"So the negotiators go up there and every day football it's like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football, they pull the football away, Charlie Brown lines flat up on his back," Schmidt suggested. "And so they don't have a fixed position on any of this stuff, they're transacting moment to moment, there's no fixed ideology."
"There's an absurd slogan from the campaign, the one thing everyone in the country remembers said, it was Mexico that was going to pay for the wall, not the American taxpayer.