January 9, 2019

Trump in Transition (v35)

As expected, everyone's fact-checking statements made by the president while he read tweets from the Oval Office last night on national television, and by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, speaking from a hallway somewhere, I think,  after Trump was done.

You can check out the AP, WaPo, NY Times, Fox NewsCNN and Politico fact-checking yourself - not a lot of new ground broken in any of this, because there wasn't a lot of new ground in any of last night's comments. That said, it seems there's consensus that we don't really have a security crisis at the southern border.

In addition to the fact-checking, pretty much everyone is also chiming on 'how he did' or 'who won' in last night's series of uncomfortable conversations. Trump was obviously constrained by having to look and act presidential, instead of being able to unleash his rally-carnival barker persona, the one we hear from most days. For their parts, Chuck and Nancy did their best to appear stern, as if disciplining a misbehaving child, which to a large degree, they were.

Let's take a look at what folks are saying.


From The Hill: Trump was primarily speaking to his base, but didn't shift the debate. He also didn't crash and burn, and neither did Schumer and Pelosi. For the Dems, then, they did what they needed to do. And the media? Well, they should think twice before allowing him time again.

From NPR: There was nothing that moved the border security debate forward, and also nothing that moved us any closer to ending the shutdown. The Dems are focused on that - getting the government reopened, while the president, with zero empathy for unpaid federal workers, is totally focused on the border (and the wall). He did OK from a "hey, I'm talking to America from the Oval Office!" perspective, but that's not really what most people care about. And while some think he needed to keep the base engaged, he was really talking to the Rs who are starting to waver on the shutdown. Whether he'll declare a national emergency is still an open question. And last, he still has a dark view of America, which he showed us in his convention speech, at his inauguration, and again last night, loading his few minutes of air time with crime statistics and expressing concern about additional American bloodshed at the hands of illegals.

From the Wall Street Journal, both Trump and the Dems have been willing - recently willing, really - to compromise on what exactly they'll fund. However, both sides are being ruled by their base, which is really another way of saying all of them are pandering instead of governing.

From undeclared 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who actually spoke longer than the president himself, the shutdown is Trump's fault, he's ignoring the real pain from it, Mitch McConnell should immediately allow a vote on the bill that passed unanimously in December to keep the government open, and Trump lies all the time, stokes fear, and on and on.

And finally, from veritable pastiche: Meh.

It was exactly what I expected, maybe a little darker, but pretty much on point: throw a bunch of statistics out there in a disconnected manner, with none of the poetic connect-the-dots that I so appreciate, from a language perspective, when he's unchained.

Strapped into his chair in a no-improv zone, he shows little emotion, no energy, and his stark lack of empathy is one of the few things that shines through. He only mentioned the shutdown to blame the Democrats for it, and never mentioned the federal workers who are days away from missing their paychecks, who are delaying medical treatment, and trying to figure out how to pay their bills.

Did he look presidential? Sure - he was in the Oval Office, he had his serious look on his face and all that. Maybe even a nice new Trump tie. But none of that matters.

What does matter is that all of them -- Trump, Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell, and whoever else they think they need - sit down and work this out.

Because our real crisis - the one we really have to worry about - is the inability of our leaders to get anything accomplished.

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