The wall between President Donald Trump and Congress shows no sign of coming down. On the 29th day of the longest government shutdown in American history, Mr Trump made an offer he knew Speaker Nancy Pelosi would resist. In exchange for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to build a wall on the Mexican border, he promised temporary protection for "dreamers" - the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the US illegally as children. Non-starter, Mrs Pelosi said, even before he had reached the podium. The Democrats seek citizenship for the dreamers - seen as potential voters - and for the shutdown to end before talks on border security and immigration.
There is little incentive for the Democrats to give in. A Pew survey found that 58 per cent of Americans oppose the wall. Of these, nine in 10 do not want a compromise if that includes funding for the wall. The 40 per cent who do support Mr Trump's wall are as resolutely opposed to any deal that excludes the wall. Hence, the prolonged political arm-wrestling that borders on the petty, including Mrs Pelosi rescinding an invitation to the President to deliver the State of Union address and Mr Trump grounding the military plane that was to take her on an official trip to Afghanistan.