Jumping the Shark

Updated on February 21, 2024

Do you recall this phrase?  In the seventies, it described a scene in the sitcom Happy Days when Fonzi literally jumped over a caged shark on water skis.  This stunt seemed less cool for The Fonz and more like a cheap stunt.

So, when someone is described as jumping the shark, it implies that they went too far and have lost credibility.

Pundits and detractors have repeatedly said that Trump has gone too far on a plethora of issues and they will affect him in the polls.  They were right – his poll numbers continued to climb with every “jump.”

But the debacle playing out in Congress may just be the splashdown that sticks.

Nothing gets Trump supporters more riled up than the travesty on our southern border, and rightly so.  Although maybe not as caustic as republicans describe it, you can be sure that all parties are horrified at the chaotic situation there.

Amazingly enough, a bipartisan bill was cobbled together in the Senate that was the toughest border reform in decades.  It was so severe that the progressive left did not like it.  Nevertheless, Independent Senator Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma spent four months crafting it, and it ended up being a veritable buffet of requirements that republicans had always wanted.

-It created emergency authority to restrict border crossings.

-It raised the legal standard of proof to pass an initial asylum screening.

–It directed $20 billion for additional enforcement on the U.S. border with Mexico to combat drug trafficking.

-It added thousands more U.S. officials to the border, thus speeding up asylum claims from years to months so migrants do not stay as long in the U.S. awaiting a decision.

Moreover, it did not provide a broad path to citizenship for people already in the U.S. illegally.  It did not even protect “dreamers” – those immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. You can see why progressive democrats were gnashing their teeth over this.

All the above are things the Republicans have been clamoring for.

So, what happened to it?  Senate Republicans blocked this bipartisan border package, scrapping a deal they had initially demanded from Democrats.  Why?

This could possibly, finally, be jumping the shark by Donald Trump, who put the kibosh on this bill with a few phone calls to senators telling them to vote against it.  Again, why?

Because he wants the border to be a talking point in the election this year.  He wants to rant over the deplorable breakdown in our border security, saying only he can fix it.  Actually, he is right.  He could have fixed it – now – with phone calls to senators telling them to vote for the bill.  But as he admitted on Fox News, he destroyed the border deal to hurt the other side.  Does he now sound credible to those who have believed he really wants to immediately crack down on our porous border?

Worse, too many republicans also prefer to campaign on a chaotic border than to pass this law.  Is it perfect?  Is anything?  We must realize that sometimes perfection can be the enemy of the good.

Just as the republicans nixed this package, you cannot make up what later happened: The House of Representatives impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for “willfully and systematically” refusing to enforce existing immigration laws.

To supporters of Trump who desperately want something done now, you should absolutely demand to know why something was not allowed to be done now.  Keep in mind what Roosevelt said about nobody caring what you know until they know that you care.  Does Donald Trump really care about our desperate desire to do something about our border crisis?

More importantly, do you?

Jill Chapin
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