Ben Fields: Another brick in the wall (Opinion)

Ben Fields

Ben Fields

Every American knows Donald Trump wanted a border wall. Was Mexico going to pay for it? Most people knew probably not. Maybe some of his more ardent supporters believed him.

What type of wall would it be? Well, the public didn’t know much about that, other than it was going to be “beautiful.” Trump’s descriptions of the wall varied wildly. It was going to be concrete. Wait, no, it’ll be steel. Hold up, how about metal slats?

Turns out, Trump had a very clear, very specific vision for his wall, but nobody would let him do it. Why? Well, according to a recent article from the New York Times, there were aspects that would’ve been, to put it politely, problematic.

What he wanted, according to administration officials, was an electrified wall with spikes on top that would “pierce human flesh.” (Are there any other kind of spikes?) He also wanted a water trench filled with snakes and alligators. You know, kind of your typical 13th century moat. (I’m surprised he went with water instead of lava.) The wall, according to the president, should be manned with border agents to gun down migrants who might dare approach and “throw rocks.” When informed murdering people for getting near U.S. soil was illegal, rock throwing or no, the president suggested agents shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. Also illegal.

In essence, the president of the United States wanted the equivalent of a drawing from a third-grader that would’ve been sent home with a teacher’s note saying “We think Billy should see the school therapist. We’re particularly worried about the drawings of stick figures impaled on spikes while being electrocuted.”

But Trump isn’t a third grader, he’s the president. So his own version of a gate that protects evil wizards in fantasy novels actually received a cost estimate. Your tax dollars at work.

Former Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen reportedly tried to reason with Trump — always a gamble — during a meeting in March. This was when Trump was attempting to completely shut down the border with Mexico, and offering pardons for officials willing to break the law.

Nielsen’s opinion had already been written off by the president, who reportedly regularly told Nielsen “Lou Dobbs hates you, Ann Coulter hates you, you’re making me look bad.” Which just goes to show what Trump knows. Lou Dobbs and Ann Coulter hate everybody.

As the border fixation continued after that March meeting, Nielsen apparently tried to occasionally steer the president’s attention elsewhere, like in one briefing discussing the legal authority for dealing with drones. The president’s response, according to the Times, was laced with the type of misogyny typically found in an episode of “Mad Men.” “Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey. Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, OK?”

Nielsen, who was no heroine in her own right, is long gone. So are most of the people who could at least try to reign in some of the president’s worst instincts. Now, as impeachment gets underway, we’re watching the last vestiges of the president’s mental coherence unravel. Daily tweets about a new civil war and the implicit suggestion from the president that anyone who would reveal troubling information be executed are the regular order of the day.

The country is a boiling cauldron of rage tamped down by a lid growing brittle. Personally. I’m exhausted by this perpetual state of agitation. I think a lot of Americans feel the same way. You’d figure even Trump supporters are tired of always being angry. But that’s what their man feeds them. Fear and anger are the only tricks he knows that work.

His proposal for the wall says everything. This is a man who wants to inflict pain and suffering because of some deep-seated flaw. He’s no leader. At this point, he’s more of a cartoon supervillain who comes with real world consequences.

Ben Fields is the Gazette-Mail opinion editor. Reach him at, 304-348-5129 or follow @BenFieldsWV on Twitter.

Funerals for Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ball, Sherman - 2 p.m., Spencer Chapel United Methodist Church.

Clay, Karen - Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Clonch, Daniel - 1 p.m., O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Harvey, Joseph - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

McClung, L. Bruce - Noon, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Charleston.

Mills, Ambra - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Pitsenbarger, Cindy - 7 p.m., Solid Rock Worship Center, Oak Hill.

Sowards, Teresa - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Stilwell, Jason - 3 p.m., Strange Creek Cemetery, Strange Creek.

Vacheresse, Robert - 12:30 p.m., procession to leave Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston.

Vaughan, Darlene - 10 a.m., Cross Lanes Baptist Church, Cross Lanes.