When the history of the 2019 U.S. government shutdown is written, and all the harm it caused to ordinary Americans is tallied up—from the economic wreckage measured on a macro scale, to the billions in necessary tax refunds to American families postponed for months, down to the desperate stories of individuals whose lives and futures were put at risk for no legitimate reason, than to satisfy the fanatic and stubborn ego of a dysfunctional and mentally unstable, racist president— one name should not be forgotten.
As reported by Yahoo, Sean Hannity urged President Trump to keep up his fight to fund his border wall. And if that means keeping the government closed through his State of the Union address on Jan. 29? Who cares, as far as he’s concerned.
“As much of an inconvenience, some people that work for the government and I hope they get their back pay, it needs to continue, straight throughout State of the Union and maybe beyond,” Hannity said at the end of a more than 20-minute opening monologue for his Fox News program Friday.
It’s already a matter of record that Hannity regularly converses with Trump, a rabid fan and devout follower of Fox News. According to multiple sources (including the New York Times), Hannity is one of the very few people who Trump relies on for “trusted" advice on policy.
As has been documented from the start of the shutdown debacle, it was Hannity (along with fellow bomb-throwing right-wing pundit Ann Coulter) who excoriated Trump when he initially appeared to be backing down from his demands that a “border wall" be erected as a permanent monument to intolerance along our southern border.
No less a credible source than outgoing right-wing Republican Congressman, Ryan Costello (R-PA) confirmed this succinctly when it appeared that Trump was having second thoughts about the supposed urgency of his border wall:
“The Senate voted 100-0 to pass a clean CR [continuing resolution] and sent it to the House,” Costello said, as reported by The Hill, in reference to the Senate passing a stopgap measure by voice vote last week. It did not, obviously, include funding for Trump’s border wall.
“Sean Hannity and a few other people screamed fire. The president then fell in line behind Sean Hannity," Costello said.
As a result of Hannity’s prodding, Trump quickly dug in his heels, with the American peoples’ interests be damned. Because the only thing that matters to Trump is personal validation, and a sycophant like Hannity is only too happy to lather it on.
As reported by The New York Times, Hannity and Trump remain extraordinarily close and speak to each other regularly. President George W. Bush once called Hannity, too, “but Hannity’s and Trump’s personalities are much more in line,” a friend of Hannity’s told me, “and they’ve both come from the media world.”
In their conversations, the friend continued to The New York Times, Hannity served as a sounding board: “Hannity’s a numbers guy, Trump’s a numbers guy. He thinks there’s nothing worse than bad numbers, and he knows Hannity’s got his finger on the pulse.”
Trump’s fixation on his “numbers" (really his standing with his base) is therefore tied to whatever Hannity tells him will keep those “numbers" from further descending into the toilet where they already are. The real-life consequences to people whose lives he risks, assuming they warrant any consideration at all, are always subservient to those “numbers.”
So more than anyone, it is Hannity’s cavalier dismissal of those 800,000 workers that influences Trump to hold them hostage to his “wall" fantasy; it is Hannity who is willing to put their lives and the continued functioning of our government on the line; and it is Hannity, above all, who deserves to bear in large part the responsibility for what happens to people as Trump carries out his ideologically-inspired “edicts."
When Americans try to visit a national park with their children and find it awash in human feces, or they just turn to the government for critical services such as food stamps, child or infant care that are simply not available, they will have Sean Hannity to thank, at least in part, for it. When a parent cannot provide for her child because her paycheck is being held in arrears, or cannot plan adequately for their future because her continued employment is uncertain, she can thank Hannity for that as well.
When Hannity takes on the role as an informal advisor to Donald Trump, he cannot claim to be uninvolved with the consequences of decisions Trump makes based on that advice. He is no longer merely some loudmouthed, racist, unqualified TV personality bringing in millions in revenue for Fox News, but someone whose access to Donald Trump allows him to directly and knowingly impact human lives on a far broader scale.
And in that regard, he should be prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of his actions.