The State of the Shutdown

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have much in common with the character Fortunato in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” Having been lured into a political oubliette and chained to a wall, they are now being systematically immured by a man upon whom they have heaped countless insults. Like Poe’s ill-fated character, they hadn’t sobered up enough from their recent successes to realize that their antagonist was leading them into a trap when he declared in front of the cameras during their December White House meeting, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

Stumbling blindly along with Trump down the murky path to the shutdown, they had no clue they would now find themselves desperately attempting to put a halt to the President’s State of the Union address. This pathetic maneuver reveals the damage they incurred pursuant to Trump’s recent Oval Office speech, which they made worse by their comically inept rebuttal. The damage has now reached the point where Pelosi and Schumer are facing growing revolts in their own conference, particularly among freshman Democrats in the House, over their refusal to even negotiate with the President. Breitbart reports:

House Majority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Pelosi’s second-in-command, says that Democrats are unified in their opposition to negotiating with President Trump on the wall.… But a quick look around the Democrat conference to see what rank-and-file Democrats are saying about their leadership — Pelosi and Hoyer on the House side, and Schumer and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin on the Senate side — proves that Hoyer’s claim of unity is simply untrue.

A growing cadre of young Democrats, including many who were profoundly unenthusiastic about supporting Pelosi for Speaker of the House, is urging negotiations on the wall and saying so publicly. Among the most outspoken opponents of Pelosi’s intransigent position are Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), ad infinitum.

These Democrats are not, of course, revolting because of heartfelt concern for the public weal. Many barely edged out GOP opponents in the recent midterms, and don’t want their constituents to rethink those votes. Rep. Jared Golden, who just defeated incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District, is thus calling for his leaders to sit down with the President. The Portland Press Herald reports that Golden is “very frustrated with all the leadership right now.” He wants to see Mainer-type common sense: “Why don’t we have all four Democratic and GOP leaders at the table with the President?”

The answer, of course, is that the leaders of his party are afraid of its growing contingent of far left members. These people will denounce any negotiations with Trump over the wall. They want total war with the White House and will accept nothing but unconditional surrender from Trump. But more realistic Democrats like Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) understand that politics is the art of compromise. As he told the Wall Street Journal, “Compromise is the best way forward, and at the end no one is going to get everything they want, but we have to realize that people’s lives are at stake and we have to get things done.”

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger agrees. She narrowly beat Republican Dave Brat last November in Virginia’s 7th District despite outspending him 2 to 1. Politico reports that she “stood up in a caucus meeting last week to complain about how Democrats were losing the messaging war on the shutdown.” Spanberger is right. This is why Nancy Pelosi has suddenly developed “security concerns” about the President’s upcoming State of the Union address. Never mind that security officials say that her obviously phony claims have no basis in fact. Pelosi sent a letter Wednesday suggesting that he delay the SOTU:

Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.

This balderdash was immediately denounced for the political stunt it was. Fox News reports that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise urged the President to go forward with the speech and added the following comments about Pelosi’s transparent cowardice: “For Nancy Pelosi to withdraw the offer shows insecurity on their part and that they can’t defend their open borders policy.… [T]o think the speaker would lock the doors and prevent people from hearing from the president of the United States.” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made it clear that DHS and the Secret Service will be prepared as always. She tweeted:

The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.

And it goes without saying that there are other Democrats who want an end to the shutdown — the furloughed federal workers. About a week after it began, President Trump made a point that has long been obvious to virtually everyone dwelling beyond the Beltway: Empty posturing by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will never restore the paychecks of furloughed government workers. If these two characters expect President Trump to blink, they may well be in for a two-year wait. He put their dilemma in the form of a question on Twitter: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

The Democrats and the legacy “news” media immediately denounced Trump’s claim as false. Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, for example, channeled the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court thus: “This is outrageous. Federal employees don’t go to work wearing red or blue jerseys. They’re public servants.” Like Chief Justice Roberts’ claim that “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Senator Warner’s assertion is preposterous. The political contributions of government “workers” in the 2016 presidential campaign tell the tale, as the Hill reported at the time:

Of the roughly $2 million that federal workers from 14 agencies spent on presidential politics by the end of September [2016], about $1.9 million, or 95 percent, went to the Democratic nominee’s campaign.… Employees at all the agencies analyzed, without exception, are sending their campaign contributions overwhelmingly to Clinton over her Republican counterpart.

These hopelessly lopsided contribution percentages soundly refute any claim that a significant number of Republicans have been furloughed during the shutdown. There isn’t the slightest possibility that any sane Republican (in or out of government) would contribute money to help Hillary Clinton become President. Thus, there is no escape from the conclusion that the partisan leanings of furloughed federal employees are overwhelmingly Democratic. After missing another paycheck or two, these folks will want this resolved. The inevitable lawsuits have been filed, but to no avail, as the Washington Post reports:

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday refused to force the government to pay federal employees who have been working without compensation during the partial government shutdown, rejecting arguments from labor unions that unpaid work violates labor laws and the Constitution.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer might as well face it. President Trump has spent most of his life negotiating with real estate developers, unionized construction companies, and New York zoning officials. He comes from a business environment that makes the Beltway look like a chapter of Habitat for Humanity. So, to put it bluntly, they have already lost. Trump has them in a deep hole, chained to the wall, and is busy with brick and mortar cutting off their only source of political oxygen. The country is with him on this and he knows it. Border security “trumps” bureaucratic comfort. Time to make a deal, #Chancy.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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