Trump tangles with media-shy Dems in front of America

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Billy Davis, Steve Jordahl (

Oval Office fightIt has been described as an embarrassing show, or an enlightening look at how the sausage is made in D.C., but no matter the description cameras were rolling Tuesday morning in the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump welcomed two Democratic foes to the White House for a scheduled meeting that was expected to be tense, but the media-savvy president let the cameras roll as he clashed with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over border security and money for a border wall, and a looming partial shutdown of the federal government.

It started out nicely enough: President Trump talked about bipartisan prison reform legislation that will likely pass this month, but it didn't take long for the sparks to fly after Pelosi, expected to be House Speaker next month, took a jab at the president.

"I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open," she said, "that a shutdown is not worth anything, and that we should not have a Trump shutdown. You have the White House---"

"Did you say 'Trump'?" the president asked, according to the official White House transcript. "Oh, oh."

"A 'Trump shutdown,'" she continued. "You have the White House---"

"I was going to call it a 'Pelosi shutdown,'" Trump shot back.

President Trump went on to insist on funding for his border wall while Pelosi and Schumer described the supposed horrors of a government shutdown, and the back-and-forth debate played out in front of the public with cameras rolling. 

Depsite a well-placed jab at Trump over the GOP-led House failing to fund a border wall, Pelosi appeared uneasy during the testy exchange and suggested more than once for the debate to happen out of view of the the public. 

Trump told her he supported "transparency" over private discussion.   

Pelosi's remove-the-press suggestion immediately caught the attention of political pundits and right-wing bloggers. 

"It is very like Donald Trump that he wanted the American people to hear him and hear the other side," observes Gary Bauer of American Values. "The president constantly has to fight to get over the fake news that most media delivers to the American people."  

Trump with border wall prototypeOn the topic of a government shutdown, Trump and Schumer tussled over who would be blamed for it until Trump made the headline-grabbing statement that he would take responsibility --- if it means demanding a secure southern border.  

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck," Trump replied, "because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle."

Some political observers suggested that Schumer, no rookie to sneaky, politics, had tricked Trump into owning a shutdown, which Democrats typically exploit to claim the GOP is heartless and partisan. 

Responses to the Oval Office spectacle varied from dropped jaws over Pelosi's remarks about the media to left-wing accolades for Pelosi for standing up to the "bully" in the White House. 

Writing at National Review, "Never Trumper" Kevin Williamson suggests that the Democratic leaders were ambushed by Trump and unprepared for the public debate.

He also suggests that a border wall is a small part of any effort to stop illegal immigration, because overstaying visas is the bigger problem in the U.S.

"You can build the wall ten feet higher or twenty feet higher," he writes, "but unless you are going to build it high enough to cut off international air traffic, it will not solve the problem.

Bauer predicts a government shutdown is coming but it won't amount to much, then comes a compromise agreement.

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