First, the dueling immigration speeches.
The teleprompter is not Donald Trump’s best friend, so the edge was off on style points during his Tuesday night speech. But I would still give him high single-digit ratings. I would have preferred a bolder set of proposals aimed at solving the comprehensive immigration issue rather than the laser focus on border security (even though securing the border would be a precondition to implementing any such program), but that’s probably a political bridge too far at this stage. I would also have liked less reliance on heart-string stories and more emphasis on border security as a fundamental obligation of a sovereign nation and a rule-of-law matter. Even if we had caravans full of Mother Teresas, they should still be subject to legal immigration protocols. But that’s what passes for political persuasion to a sound-bite-addicted, emotion-influenced voting public.
In an effort to be fair and balanced, I will refrain from calling the Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer post-game a raving disaster. Rather than taking a cue from Trump and at least trying to hint at possible compromise, they focused on the hardships being faced by the government workers in the shutdown crosshairs. Job one was reopening the government, not addressing the impact of illegal immigration. It came across as wooden, tone deaf, and uncaring, with a preoccupation on the process of negotiation (stop the shutdown and then we’ll talk) and an utter ignorance of the fact that dozens of Americans care about the shutdown. Then the progressive poster child, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, went on MSNBC to upstage the old guard and hog the air time. She stressed that her sympathies were with the illegals who had their fear of apprehension increased by Trump’s rhetoric. And the media thinks the GOP is in disarray.
No minds were changed, and everyone went back to their corners anticipating another round of fruitless discussions. The media did their job as well, focusing on third-decimal-place fact-checking of Trump’s speech.
True, ICE arrested 260,000 aliens with criminal records over the last two years, as Trump claimed, but a lot of those convictions were for nonviolent crimes, and every day CBP encounters 1,700 aliens attempting to cross the border illegally, not the 2,000 claimed by Trump, which requires adding “inadmissibles.” Oh…
The New York Times did its part by leaking the contents of an “off the record” chat with Trump before the speech in which he purportedly opined that the speech was a waste of time and will do nothing to move the dial.
My guess is that this will go on for a while longer, but eventually the GOP senators will blink (they always do once the media gangs up on them with the blame game). Trump will settle for less border barrier funding, water down the overall solutions, and dig into his Thesaurus to find a synonym for “wall.” Polls show Trump (and by extension the GOP) being blamed by an increasing majority of voters, and reactions to the “wall” so far are wildly skewed by party, with 85% of Democrats against it and a similar number of Republicans for it. That too will shift left over time, and actual problem-solving will be in short supply.
As for a possible comprehensive immigration program that at least begins to recognize the imperative of revamping our legal immigration system to address our evolving demographics, that does not impact the next election cycle, so it will not make the cut.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is leaving! And of his own accord! So much for the obstruction-of-justice impeachment rationale. I don’t want to overplay this, but it’s a very big deal because it clearly signals Robert Mueller is getting close to the finish line. I’ve said for months that Mueller will end with a whimper, not a bang, and present Congress with an innuendo-laced road map to impeachment with the grand total of zero real evidence of Trump doing anything wrong. He will declare victory, lament the idea that he could have proven any number of things if only those involved hadn’t all lied to him, and punt it the Democrat committee chairmen in the House. If there were anything of substance, we would have known it by now.
Maybe this will open the floodgates of transparency and allow Trump to release the underlying classified documents on the role of the FBI and Justice Department in the election and subsequent investigations. Nothing else has managed to clear the air. Even the long-awaited and much-argued format of the congressional hearing with the former FBI head went nowhere. The smartest and most righteous guy in the room spent the entire hearing swearing on stacks of many Bibles that he could recall precisely … nothing. Mueller will, however, set the stage for the Democrats strategy over the next two years — let their crazies rant about impeachment while the “reasoned ones” spend 24/7 with a never-ending stream of investigations into everything Trump. Impeachment will be considered “premature” until all the facts are in, which would be about two days after the 2020 elections.
The media is still desperately clinging to the hope that Mueller will not let them down and grasping at any new story to bolster their case. This week’s entrant was the breathless report that the Russian lawyer who was involved in the infamous Trump Tower meeting was being indicted for obstruction of justice stemming from her role in a money laundering investigation involving a major Russian businessman. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything remotely related to Trump, including the Tower meeting, but according to the media it’s evidence that she has connections with senior Russian officials and from time to time is paid to do their bidding. So there has to be something there, right?
The Democrat wannabe field for 2020 is multiplying by the day, with a sprint to the left, evidenced by actual announcements, teasers, “policy” moves, book publications, and carefully placed leaks. Hope springs eternal for literally dozens of possibles.
Just to skim the surface, Gov. Gavin Newsom raised the stakes by promising California will rule the roost on sanctuary state actions; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is feeding stuff to the New York media about how he is being urged to run; Sen. Kamala Harris just came out with a book on her recipe for American progressive greatness; Joe Biden has a daily press release about how the death of his son is in the rearview mirror and he is now free to come to the rescue of America; Sen. Cory Booker is all over Page Six of the New York Post having been seen on a movie date with a major Hollywood actress; and even the esteemed mayor of New York made progressive bone fides headlines by proposing that New York City provide free health care to illegal immigrants (he claims he can cover 300,000 of them for $100 million per year; do the math).
It’s going to be fun to watch, not the least of which because the race to be the most progressive icon in the room will cause the divided government to come to a virtual standstill. Thank God for unintended consequences and small favors.