After writing about the border "wall" in last week's column, I had planned to move off the Trump topic and onto a topic that I have been wanting to get to. Gene editing. Stop yawning, that is a really big topic! But, as he is prone to do, Trump threw me a curve and stole the spotlight back again with a nationally-televised Oval Office speech on border security.
I know we talked about it last week, but I am in the news business after all. Personally, I am getting a little bored with what should be a serious subject since it is looking like a media-driven dog and pony show.
This week we are at least rewording the question for our online reader poll: "After President Trump’s speech, are you more or less convinced about the need to invest in more border security?" More, less or about the same?
Last week, 53.1 percent of Post readers said yes, they agreed with President Trump's willingness to shut down the government to get his wall (fence, whatever) built, although a few thought $5 billion was too much. Those other 46.9 percent, I don't think they would ever support any kind of fence unless it was built to keep Trump out!
One such reader lambasted me in a private email for insinuating that Democrats actually are content with illegal immigration because the gradual demographic shift it produces helps them win elections. "You’ve written some dumb columns before, but I think this one takes the cake. Can you please point me in the direction of your evidence for this nonexistent voter fraud perpetuated by illegal immigrants?"
Most rabid partisans only like to read or watch things that they agree with (in this case, for liberals that is anything not called Fox News). So I doubt whether this particular writer actually read my column. For the record, I did not make the case that illegal immigrants were voting (although I do believe that a few are). I suggested that Democrat leaders know that due to birthright citizenship and chain migration, today's illegal immigrant produces tomorrow's demographic shift. I stand by that statement.
A few Republican readers thought I was being too hard on Trump again when I suggested that a lot of his histrionics over the wall are more about ginning up his base (which mostly watch Fox News). I stand by that statement, too.
Partisan sniping aside, let's look at what Trump actually said. Basically, he doubled down on his long-promised border wall. He blamed Democrats (imagine that) for a partial government shutdown that is now in its third week.
He described the border problem as a “growing humanitarian and security crisis.” Trump urged Congress to give him the $5.7 billion he has asked for to pay for some kind of enhanced security (a wall? or fence? or moat? or force field?). “This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” he said, adding that the federal government “remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”
In their response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of fear mongering and governing by “temper tantrum.”
I would not rule out the possibility that Trump eventually declares a national emergency to get his funding from Defense Department funds. Even if that was ruled illegal, he would have looked tough and kept his promise to his base. At this point, Democrat leaders are gaining from their base just the same, so I don't personally see this ending soon.
My guess is that the plan is to negotiate with the Democrats for the next few days to make it look good, then declare a national emergency to end the shutdown.
Did President Trump change my own mind on the subject? Not really. I already agreed with his opening line that "we are out of space to hold them (illegal immigrants), and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country. America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages."
He then went on to exaggerate some of the things – he is the King of Hyperbole, but what else is new? So I just voted "same." How about you?