On Tuesday, President Trump defended the recent 35-day government shutdown. “If we didn’t do that shutdown,” he told reporters, “we would not have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world, what the hell is happening with the border.” What did “these politicians” see? The bipartisan panel of senators and representatives with the task of avoiding another shutdown struck a deal that delivers something different for border security than the president demanded.

Recall that the president triggered the government shutdown in December when he reversed course and rejected a bipartisan deal that included a larger sum for border walls or barriers ($1.6 billion) than the amount now proposed ($1.375 billion). He then called for $5.7 billion, in effect, holding hostage 800,000 federal government employees.

At the time, many Republican lawmakers stuck with the president — until they did not, as evident in the current agreement. The president has made his case, repeatedly, for a border wall. He did not get what he wanted from a Republican Congress. With Democrats now in charge of the House, his leverage has diminished. The responsible thing would be to sign the budget legislation when it comes his way this week, putting behind this immigration scrap and funding the federal government through the fiscal year.

The congressional deal reflects a consensus. Democrats and Republicans want improved border security. Most understand that best practices involve added technology and personnel, even fencing and other barriers where they are appropriate. That doesn’t include the long stretches of wall the president has described, an approach viewed as wasteful and ineffective by border security experts.

More, the shared understanding sees the absence of a crisis, or national emergency, at the border. In telling reporters “I can’t say I’m happy” about the deal, the president left open seeking to use executive authority to drive funding toward a wall. If he goes too far, especially in challenging the congressional power of the purse, he can expect a legal battle, lawmakers responding appropriately to another careless and unnecessary gambit from the Trump White House.

No doubt, hard-line conservatives will continue to lobby the president on the congressional deal. The president already has started to deflect such criticism by spinning, “Finish the wall.” This is another of his many half-truths, distortions and falsehoods about immigration and the border. As the fact checkers have reported, the president’s idea of a wall hasn’t been started, just as Mexico won’t be paying for the wall, something he assured many audiences would be “so easy” to achieve.

Add to the equation the reporting of the Washington Post last week, detailing the longtime employment of undocumented immigrants at the Trump golf club in Bedminster, N.J., many of the unauthorized workers coming from the same town in Costa Rica. The workers describe how the company recognized and accommodated their situation.

Beyond the hypocrisy in the president’s harsh words for illegal immigration, his club benefiting all along (until a recent purging of undocumented employees) is something too little discussed in this debate. Many American employers have been eager to hire such workers. That goes to the responsibility on this side of the border for the problem.

It also points to the need for overall immigration reform, and the opportunity for the president in accepting the congressional deal and then pressing for the larger compromise that has eluded the previous two administrations. At best, that may seem a pipe dream. Yet the president hardly lacks a capacity to change positions. If he wants a big win for himself and the country, he will surprise by showing the leadership required to rally the country rather than divide it.