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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Trump corners Chucky & Nancy on border wall, wins bout by knockout

It wasn’t exactly the “Thrilla in Manilla” but it was still highly combative and entertaining nonetheless. Speaking of the face-to-face Oval Office encounter between the heavyweights of the Democrat (Nancy Pelosi and “Chucky” Schumer) and Republican (President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence) parties on Tuesday at the White House.

Conspicuously absent from the melee were Republican congressional leaders, which was definitely a positive considering Trump didn’t need a contrarian voice or two from within his own party to foul the argument and Chucky and Nancydivert attention away from where it needs to be. No doubt outgoing speaker Paul Ryan would’ve sat by Pelosi and figuratively held her hand as the Democrat speaker-to-be ducked and deferred on protecting the American homeland. And had he been there, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would’ve let “Chucky” do all the talking.

Nevertheless, the “outcome” of the verbal sparring match throws the all-important border wall funding controversy back to Capitol Hill, where time is running critically short to make the best of this year’s lame duck session and actually accomplish something before the “fresh” Democrat controlled House moves in to do its nasty business.

Susan Ferrechio reported at The Washington Examiner, “President Trump’s threat to shut down the government over border wall money left lawmakers scrambling on Tuesday for a deal to fund the remaining 25 percent of the government before a Dec. 21 deadline...

“Senate Minority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Pelosi, D-Calif., said they told the president they could agree to extend temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security until next year, when House Democrats are in the majority. Their only other option was a deal that keeps border security funding at $1.6 billion, which is below the $5 billion Trump wants to complete a wall along the Mexican border...

“A shutdown is likely to rattle the nerves of many Republicans. The party is still spooked by the 2013 government shutdown triggered by House conservatives who were trying to defund Obamacare. Polls following that shutdown showed the public overwhelmingly blamed Republicans, although the party then picked up 13 House seats in November and took over the Senate majority. Still, GOP leaders don't seem to like that option.”

The eternally politically paranoid GOP establishment always runs from the threat of a government shutdown like a bevy of quail scurrying before a hunting dog. Democrats realize this and therefore the “shutdown” threat forms the basis of their budgetary strategy whenever the subject surfaces. President Trump also recognizes it and he’s saved his ultimate stand for a time when there’s maximum pressure on Democrats -- and Republican leaders -- to capitulate.

Prior to this year the illegal immigration problem didn’t have a definite “face” -- unless you counted the tens of thousands of illegal aliens clogging up federal and state prisons from sea to shining sea. Thanks to the recent violent migrant caravans that trekked northward across Mexico there are literally thousands of “faces” to press the matter at this point. If illegal immigration was treated as a “hypothetical” hazard, it isn’t any longer. Retreating on the border wall question now equates to a president shirking his ultimate duty to protect American citizens from external enemies.

Democrats obviously feel safe abdicating their own responsibilities despite years and years of assurances that they cared about national security and were just as dedicated to preserving the American experiment. The perils are no longer existential -- they’re banging at the front door.

Naturally Trump chose the most dramatic way possible to reveal the Democrats’ lack of cooperation on national security and expose them as the two-faced political hacks that they are. Pelosi and Schumer frequently go before the cameras and microphones to spew their anti-Trump venom but speak pleasantly and forthrightly when in the presence of the man himself. Not on Tuesday. The proverbial gloves were off and Schumer especially could scarcely disguise his contempt and anger.

If you look closely at the meeting you’ll see Schumer avoided making eye contact with Trump whenever the president spoke. Does that make it easier for him to lie?

For his part, Trump’s “show” was intended to accomplish a few things. First and foremost, it was a clear signal to Pelosi and Schumer that the tone of the next two years will not markedly change, despite the Democrats electoral successes (in the House) last month. Trump clearly plans to keep fighting for his campaign platform and is more than willing to do it publicly if he feels it’ll help clear the political arteries in Congress.

“Chucky” and Nancy were equally steadfast in refusing to budge on anything their leftist constituencies would abhor, with both nodding and swearing to be for border security but unwilling to do anything to further it. The wall is effective -- which is the opposite of what they want, so both homed in like a laser on the “shutdown” specter.

Schumer’s singular purpose in life is prolonging the government-by-continuing-resolution game, which essentially permits him to run his mouth (to his adoring media friends) while shirking his responsibility to the taxpayers to carefully review each budget expenditure. Of course Schumer wants the government to be kept open via a CR now -- it’ll virtually guarantee Democrats can kill (due to its House majority) any Trump priorities without any controversy.

Talk about having cake and eating it too. Schumer’s technically in the strongest position here. He can sit back with that stupid grin on his face and do nothing to further the negotiations. “Chucky” says it’s all about avoiding a government stoppage -- but that’s precisely what he wants. Democrats pretend to care about government services but they really figure any shutdown will go badly for Republicans politically.

They’re wrong. It may take a while for them to appreciate it, however.

The second reason Trump fostered a public spat with Democrats on the wall issue was to send a message to his own party’s congressional leaders that they’d better get off the fence and commit to building a barrier, just like he has. Regardless of the polls Trump realizes border security -- as embodied by the wall -- is enormously popular with conservatives who trusted him and put him in office because he promised to finally get it done.

Unlike Democrats, Republican leaders can’t hide behind continuing resolutions and the opposition’s obstruction any longer. With the hours dwindling in this year’s lame duck session it’s time to get out from behind their office doors and take the fight to the House and Senate floors -- and then make the case to the American public like Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows did this week (more on this below).

Lastly, Trump’s open microphone confrontation with Nancy and “Chucky” was clearly meant to establish a new type of precedent for intra-government negotiations. Trump the showman is always cognizant of public opinion -- a.k.a. “ratings” -- so he correctly figured he’d receive maximum viewership and lasting impact from putting the “show” on TV.

For years both parties promised to move the business of government out in the open but never made good on their words. In her “victory” speech last month. Pelosi promised transparency under her leadership yet complained on Tuesday that wall negotiations should be done in private. Why? Isn’t this the same woman who blabbered, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it…?”

And why didn’t “Chucky” want to chew the fat on border security with everyone watching? Why did he repeatedly deflect the matter back to talking about shutting down the government? To him, wouldn’t we rather talk about the Robert Mueller investigation, Stormy Daniels and Russian collusion? Or how the Republican tax cut helps only rich people? Or impeachment?

By all appearances the contest was dominated by the confident Trump and the silent Pence, leaving two hopelessly uncomfortable lefty politicians looking to get out of the room as quickly as possible. So much for promises kept -- at least from the Democrat side of the aisle. If it were up to conservatives the wall would already be completed.

Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote at Fox News, “The House Freedom Caucus will offer two amendments to [the year-end spending bill]. First, we need to end the catch and release problem. Second, we need $5 billion in unrestricted funding for the border wall.

“Our members will not vote in support of a bill that doesn’t include these provisions.  The president should also use his veto pen to ensure that Congress listens. This battle won’t be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. But if we have the political will, we can win. We have the American people on our side.

“Democrats do not want to bring attention to their extremist positions on immigration. They are for open borders and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Early in 2018, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shut down the government because Republicans would not meet his demand for amnesty. The GOP came together and prevailed in the court of public opinion. Schumer caved, and the government was reopened. Securing the border isn’t going to happen in a Pelosi-run Congress. We still have three weeks. That’s more than enough time to do what we said.”

It's true, the #SchumerShutdown is a distant memory now. Back in January Democrats allowed government functions to grind to a halt to try and push through amnesty for illegal aliens (essentially, codifying Obama’s unconstitutional DACA executive order) and did so despite being in the minority in both houses of Congress and with Trump in the White House. This time, however, only about 25 percent of the government would be affected (a fact the media will purposely overlook) and even fewer citizens will notice there’s anything different in America.

Sooner or later the public will “get woke” to the fact a government shutdown really doesn’t cause much disturbance in their lives. The so-called “essential” government functions are always exempt from a shutdown and outside of the DC region hardly anyone even grasps anything’s different.

Meanwhile, Americans do understand border security and Jordan and Meadows are correct -- Trump has picked the correct “hill” to make his stand. Outside of the rabid left practically everyone views illegal immigration as a problem in one form or another and people aren’t stupid -- they’ll recognize Trump is only doing his job as commander in chief.

The media will take Trump’s offer to accept blame for any shutdown as permission to rip him again -- but who listens to them anyway?

The ball is clearly now in Republican leaders’ court to pass the requisite wall funding and force Democrats to cave or face the music. If the government does shutdown it will steal attention away from Pelosi’s ascension to power, too -- and Trump will come away from this as the principled “outsider” politician who keeps his word and executes his duties as though they matter.

Will the polls go along? Probably not, at least initially. No one will remember this in 2020 -- but they’ll certainly recall if Trump doesn’t follow through on his 2016 campaign pledge. The stage is set for a real political “war” to end 2018. Who’ll prevail? Smart money says Trump will do whatever it takes to get the wall constructed.

And he already took “round one” of the bout. Frequent Trump critic Matt K. Lewis even agrees. Lewis wrote at The Daily Beast, “Trump has been known to grandstand, only to back down later (just as he has been known to be conciliatory, only to backslide later). He can sometimes justify this as a negotiation tactic, and other times he simply pretends he never said it. It seems implausible that Trump would actually accede to being blamed for what Pelosi (who arguably started this whole thing by using the words) termed a ‘Trump shutdown.’

“It’s impossible to know how this will play out, but I score the opening round in Trump’s favor. Before the mid-terms, I argued that Trump might benefit from Democrats winning the House. This would provide him with a foil (see how he handled his Republican opponents and Hillary Clinton in 2016), and/or allow him to blame others for failing to deliver on his policy goals.

“Based on Tuesday’s meeting, things seem to be running according to schedule.”

Like Lewis, I too felt a Democrat House takeover might ultimately end up helping Trump, and the immigration/build the wall issue proves the point. Democrats can no longer mindlessly grandstand or shrink from fixing the very broken system. They too have skin in the game now and must offer something other than demanding amnesty and citizenship for people who’re here because they’ve broken the law.

American voters are watching -- and thanks to Trump, they have a front row seat.

President Trump’s orchestrated negotiation session with Democrat leaders the other day was a stroke of brilliance. Politically speaking, Trump can’t lose here: if he gets money for the wall it’s another campaign promise fulfilled. If he doesn’t, he can run against the stagnant DC swamp again in 2020.

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