Trump rolls out the wheel to try to sell his wall

Donald Trump has taken the wheel.

Over the past two weeks, the president has repeatedly invoked the technological advance of the wheel when arguing that the safety of the United States depends upon construction of a wall on the country’s southern border with Mexico.

“We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday in the White House, insisting that a wall is the answer. “The wheel, the wall, some things never get old.”

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With congressional Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling Trump’s border wall “expensive and ineffective” while advocating the use of drones and other more recent technology to police the border, Trump has been resolute that some old inventions never go out of style.

“The wall is part of border security. I hear about “The wall is old-fashioned. It is not old-fashioned. It is 100 percent foolproof,” Trump said in a New Year’s Eve interview with Fox News. “You look at the wheel; I guess they would say the wheel is old-fashioned. It’s been around for a long time. The wall is the only way to do it. Technology — nobody knows more about technology than me — technology is just the bells and whistles on the wall. If you don’t have the wall, you are going to have people coming in.”

Earlier that same day, Trump reiterated his appreciation for walls and wheels on Twitter.

Trump’s public obsession with the wheel seems to have started in December, days before he hit the brakes on a deal for a continuing resolution to fund the federal government that did not include $5 billion for wall construction.

While Trump’s critics have pondered how the wheel became a presidential talking point at a time when the federal government has all but ground to a halt, the president certainly has a point about the enduring nature of some inventions.

The first Mesopotamian potter’s wheel dates back to approximately 3500 B.C., for instance, and walls used for defensive purposes are believed to have been built 11,500 years ago in what is now Turkey. As metaphors, however, wheels and walls couldn’t be more different, with one symbolizing mobility and the other a dead end.

While his linkage of the two ancient human inventions may yet convince more Americans that Congress should appropriate billions for a concrete wall or steel slat fence to better delineate the border between Mexico and the U.S., for others it may seem odd that the man who touts himself as the nation’s leading expert on technology is suddenly stuck on the wheel.

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