In his syndicated column this week, author, lawyer and conservative activist David Limbaugh said that the real winner of the Oval Office showdown between the president and Democrat congressional leaders in the Oval Office last week was Donald Trump.
While Limbaugh acknowledged that the media seemed fixated on the fact that President Trump came out of the televised argument looking badly, he insisted that the childish tactics of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer showed just how desperate they were.
“Instead of listening to the media’s version, watch the video,” Limbaugh wrote. “President Trump set the tone of the meeting, and it was decidedly cordial, saying it was a great honor to have Pelosi and Schumer there and acknowledging that they’ve worked very hard on various bipartisan initiatives, such as criminal justice reform and the farm bill.
“Trump then turned to ‘the wall,’ saying Republicans support it and he would like to avoid a government shutdown over the issue while acknowledging that it is a very difficult issue because Republicans and Democrats are ‘on very opposite sides.'”
Limbaugh posited that the conversation went downhill when he turned the floor over to Pelosi, who insisted that the priority ought to be keeping the government open.
“You should not have a Trump shutdown,” she said, according to a White House transcript.
“Notice the blatantly calculating way she spun this as a ‘Trump shutdown’ rather than a possible impasse that could lead to a government shutdown,” Limbaugh wrote. “Also note: Pelosi drew first blood, and it was deliberate.”
The conversation then turned to the matter of whether Trump ought to press for a House bill that would fail in the upper chamber; Trump had said that “the problem is the Senate, because we need 10 Democrats to vote, and they won’t vote.”
“That’s not the point, Mr. President. The point is that there are equities to be weighed,” Pelosi continued. “And we are here to have a conversation in a (prayerful/careful) way.”
(I’m not sure which it is. watching the video — about the 6:30 mark here. The White House transcript says “careful.” Limbaugh writes “prayerful.” Other transcripts, like The Washington Post’s, say “inaudible.” But I don’t think framing a partial government shutdown over the issue of wall funding as a “Trump shutdown” during an Oval Office meeting open to reporters and then trying to back away from it in such a manner is either “prayerful” or “careful.”)
Pelosi continued to insist that the issue be discussed in private after she brought a partisan characterization of it into the conversation. After quite a bit of crosstalk, Senate Minority Leader Schumer decided to break into the conversation and do a bit of mansplaining on the topic.
“We have a lot of disagreements here. The Washington Post today gave you a lot of Pinocchios, because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built, and how much there — But that’s not the point here. We have a disagreement about the wall,” Schumer said.
He then contended that Trump had “called 20 times to shut down the government. You say, I want to shut down the government. We don’t.”
Yet, as Limbaugh pointed out, Schumer was “ignoring that Trump had specifically said in this meeting that he does not want that.”
“Then a frustrated Pelosi said they needed to call a halt to the discussion because they had come in to the meeting in good faith to discuss with Trump how they could keep the government open,” Limbaugh continued. “Again, Trump was not the one talking about a shutdown; he was talking about the wall and border security, the former being indispensable to the latter. Like Pelosi, Schumer said they should ‘debate in private,’ while Pelosi was insultingly mumbling, ‘We have taken this conversation to a place that is devoid, frankly, of fact.’ In other words, ‘You’re lying, President Trump, because you won’t agree to our partisan version of reality.'”
Indeed, this was a common theme of the meeting: That the Democrat position is inherently factual, and if you don’t agree you’re simply ignoring the facts. Just a little bit later, Limbaugh wrote, “Pelosi lamented again that they were having the debate in public after having come in to the meeting in good faith, and Trump rightly noted, ‘It’s not bad, Nancy. It’s called transparency.’
“Pelosi responded, ‘It’s not transparency when we’re not stipulating to a set of facts.’ Are you kidding me? Unless you agree with Democrats on the facts, the discussion can’t be transparent?” Limbaugh noted. “This is the same logic by which leftists ban expression of opinions that don’t agree with theirs. I hope people are paying attention.”
There were other examples of this, like when Pelosi implored Trump to “let us have a conversation where we don’t have to contradict in public the statistics that you put forth, but instead can have a conversation about what will really work, and what the American people deserve from us at this uncertain time in their lives.”
In other words: Give in to us, the people who clearly have the answers.
“Just as the mood was beginning to soften, Schumer again turned to Trump and accused him of wanting to shut the government down, and again Trump denied it,” Limbaugh wrote. “It was only after repeated haranguing that Trump indicated he was tired of playing semantic games and said that if they want to put the shutdown on him, fine, he would be willing to shut down the government if he could not get the wall.
“How can anyone believe that the Democrats support border security — wall or no wall — when they have repeatedly broken their promises to work with Republicans on it, when they demonize all opponents of illegal immigration and amnesty as racists, when they oppose all reasonable measures to guard the border, and when many of them actually advocate the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?”
This, Limbaugh said, was the heart of the matter — the fact that the left has repeatedly let America down on border security despite the fact both Pelosi and Schumer claim that they wanted it. And, when it came to the exchange, it was Democrat leadership who came out looking the worse for wear.
“It’s undeniable that Pelosi and Schumer initiated the aggressive exchanges, that they personally insulted Trump and were rude and condescending to him, that they openly objected to transparency, and that they misrepresented their own position on border security,” Limbaugh wrote.
“Say what you want about Trump, but he very honestly said that he was determined to get a border wall, that he preferred to have this discussion in front of the entire world and that he would be willing for the government to shut down over it. Pelosi and Schumer are just as willing to shut down the government over it but unwilling to be honest about it,” Limbaugh concluded. “I applaud President Trump for bringing this issue front and center and exposing the fraudulent and reckless position of the Democratic leadership on border security.”
Limbaugh’s right on several levels here.
If you wanted transparency, you certainly got it. As for who was the aggressor here, this is a common media trope: When a liberal attacks a conservative, the conservative isn’t supposed to parry or contradict them in any way. The proper response is for a conservative to sit there and take it, smile meekly and then say something about maybe agreeing to disagree. Anything else is sign of a bad temperament.
If there wasn’t any talk of a “Trump shutdown,” none of this would have happened. If there wasn’t the constant insistence that Democrats are in possession of the facts and the Republicans are just living in a dream world, none of this would have happened. We could have even averted the worst part of this if Pelosi and Schumer didn’t preposterously try to claim the mantle of border security, an issue they couldn’t possibly care less about.
The media may have portrayed Trump as the loser in this exchange. We’ll see what the American people think.
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