Tonight, angry Democrats stormed out of a meeting with the President on border security after failing to reach an agreement over the color of the new wall panels presently under construction in the Sonora Desert.
“This is an unprecedented abuse of power,” said Minority Leader Schumer. “No president should hold the government hostage.”
The White House has released details of the contested proposal, which includes a simple black-on-black pattern of steel posts. The Democratic opposition is insisting on an expansion of the present system of white-and-yellow concrete bollards, which Trump objects to on the grounds that “It’s not actually a wall”. However, the Democrats maintain that the difference is not about structure but instead color. “Insistence on black-on-black is racist, pure and simple,” said one source.
Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, but the question nobody knows the answer to is this: Will the Democrats actually show up?
Everything I just said is true.
OK; so the “black-on-black” comment is out of context. Properly speaking, this would be an argument about brown. Democrats are painting Trump as an anti-Hispanic racist because he wants a wall. Perhaps he is, but the wall can be discussed without bringing race into it, which is what Trump is attempting by discussing this as a humanitarian crisis.
Matters of substance are what’s important here: The objections stated by Schumer and Pelosi are that the government should not be shut down, and that Trump should not force the American people to keep his campaign promises for him. Mainly, both of them objected on the grounds that Trump is demanding it.
But in listening to both speeches, I was struck by two fascinating truths. The first is that everyone agrees — and admits they agree — that Border Patrol needs more funding, particularly for humanitarian and medical ends, but also for infrastructural improvements and an increase in high-tech scanning at crossing points. The second is that there exists a continuous border barrier right now, one composed of various materials ranging from chain-link and corrugated steel to long stretches of concrete bollard designed to stop vehicles. (These are used in desert and badlands areas.)
These are all walls. Some are more permeable than others, true — but they’re barriers to crossing, and everyone in the argument just agreed they require improvement. All they disagree on is architectural details — a preference of steel versus concrete, slats versus chain link. They might as well be debating about the color, because none of those actually doing the arguing took the trouble to ask expert opinion before taking their stand. Not Trump, and not his opponents.
What’s going to happen from here? Well, Trump’s now (finally!) got a detailed proposal he’s presenting; we’ll see where that goes. And he’s asked for a meeting; we’ll see if people attend. The ball’s back in Congress’s court for the moment, and we’ll know more tomorrow evening.
But for now, each side has drawn their line in the sand — one in black, the other in yellow and white stripes.
Note: Sen. Schumer misstated. A government shutdown due to a Presidential response to congressional inaction is hardly unprecedented; Obama did it over the ACA. It’s certainly an extreme reaction on Trump’s part, and it’s very probably inappropriate, but it’s quite legal and it’s been done many times before.