It’s time to Break It Down!
Yesterday, Donald Trump and Mike Pence hosted Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office for a televised political version of the Apprentice. In essence it was a tour de force of Trumpian ego, artfully staged to allow Trump to preen before his doting fans on TV.
The meeting, ostensibly, was to kick off the discourse leading to negotiations that Trump believes, and many of his supporters hope will result in the erection of a Southern Border Wall. Democrats, for their part hope to strengthen border security (without a wall), and keep government running without a shutdown.
Usually such discussions take place in private. For the second time, Trump has opted to make the conversation part of a nationwide TV show. This time, after a testy exchange, Trump made it clear, at least as clear as anyone who shape shifts facts as often as he does ever makes anything clear, that he would be proud to shutdown the government if he doesn’t get his border wall. He stated:
“I’ll be the one to shut it down. I will take the mantle. And I will shut it down for border security.”
The statement, emanating from Mr. Trump, was shown live on Cable TV, and was made in the presence of a gaggle of reporters. Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, and Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, engaged in a spirited discussion with Trump. Pence, was also present, but did not comment. At least not in front of the cameras.
Democrats have been clear they have no intention of capitulating to Trump’s demand to provide funding for a border wall. Following the meeting they released a statement underscoring that:
“We gave the president two options that would keep the government open. It’s his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down.”
Throughout the course of the meeting, Trump kept insisting that much of the wall has already been built (numerous fact-checkers earlier this year determined it hasn’t, which Schumer pointed out) and he has also said the military could build the rest. Last night, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense said:
“To date, there is no plan to build sections of the wall.” But “Congress has provided options under [existing law] that could permit the Department of Defense to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counter drug operations or national emergencies.”
After the meeting Pelosi would say, she requested the cameras be removed. She added:
“We didn’t want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no basis in fact. I didn’t want to say in front of those people, ‘You have no idea what you’re talking about.’”
Not surprisingly, the White House, per Sarah Sanders attempted to frame the conversation in a different light. She said:
“President Trump had a constructive dialogue with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Major disagreement remains on the issue of border security and transparency.
Later Trump added:
“Believe it or not, I think it was a very friendly meeting. ($1,000 on What is ‘I do not believe, Alex’)…I’ve actually liked [Schumer and Pelosi] for a long period of time, and I respect them both and when the press left, we actually had a fairly long meeting and we really discussed a lot of great subjects.”
The meeting left a good deal of uncertainty about the exact course of the to be continued border wall discussion. We do know at least three specific facts, however. We know the deadline, unless it’s extended again, for reaching agreement on a budget deal is December 21st. We also know that yesterday’s episode of the political version of the Apprentice was just a teaser/prelude to the coming season of “The 116th Congress – Divided.” And finally, we know, that despite the tremendous restraint that must have been required, neither Schumer, nor Pelosi mentioned or inquired about the premise that Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall. Kudos! With the House of Representatives no longer under Republican control, there are sure to be many more rounds of televised fireworks.
For now, just remember, if the people’s government is shutdown, we know whom to “credit.” “Proud To Shutdown The Government: Trump’s Stance!”
I’m done; holla back!
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