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Inside the sausage grinder.

January 10, 2018

By now you are probably hearing and reading reaction from all sides to the unique 50-55 minute televised meeting yesterday between President Trump and members of both parties and houses of Congress relative to DACA and immigration.

It’s likely that no one even with a long, long memory can remember a time when a President invited the media to stay and film for more than five minutes after a major policy meeting was already underway, so the word “unique” fits.

It’s a good thing opinions are free, because everybody gets to have one, Musings included, so here goes.

It’s really a shame that the entire country couldn’t have watched the thing live. Hopefully someone recorded it and will put it up unedited on YouTube.  If so, and you care about knowing a little more about how these things work, you’ll watch.

It’s going to be pretty damn hard for both the participants and the media to disavow or spin what we saw and heard.

For those of us who have had to sit through a number of board meetings, you can bet that once the cameras left the room, Steny Hoyer, Lindsay Graham, Henry Cuellar and a few others got a lot more colorful about their positions and subsequent reports confirm that to be so.

Tough.

Everyone present is now on internet video, which  as we all know, is the closest thing to immortality that any of us will ever achieve.

The President made his priorities clear. Codify DACA, stop chain migration, do away with the visa lottery system and fund the wall, which he calls Phase 1.  Phase 2, which he did not provide any details for except that it be merit-based, is “comprehensive” immigration.

He said it at least four times, and he made it clear he expects anything to hit his desk to include those things. It was the mechanisms that he left up to Congress.

It was notable that he called on various members to voice their concerns and views even when they  might have simply preferred to sit with pursed mouths and furrowed brows and wait for the cameras to leave.

The four hyper-partisan leaders, Ryan, Pelosi, McConnell and Schumer were not present, and that was no accident.

The general tone was that the President expects Congress to solve the budget, the DACA problem and border security funding, i.e. the wall,  by January 19, not March 5.

One thing that is sure to get some media play was the President’s suggestion that bringing back earmarks, albeit with better controls, is a good idea.

He’s right, simply because the way it is now, there is no bargaining material on the table. As he put it, the whole system we have now fosters hate and divisiveness because there are no incentives, also known as carrots,  with which to broker deals. All that’s available now is the stick.

For those that caught it, there were times when he had to rein some members who were of a mind to do some political grandstanding, such as when he cut Steny Hoyer off in mid-campaign speech by telling him that playing politics was the problem, and then just talked over him until he shut up.

He dismissed Lindsay Graham’s whine about all the heat he was going to take by voting for DACA by simply telling him “I’ll take the heat” leaving it clear that Senator Graham’s personal political problems weren’t germane to the discussion.

It was interesting that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) actually provided the best reason so far FOR the border wall (although he obviously doesn’t realize that he did it) when he correctly pointed out that drugs come into the country by means and routes other than just the border.

If we didn’t have to spend so much time and manpower on apprehending border jumpers, we’d have the resources to better tackle the boats, airports and ports of entry.

It didn’t take long for both the far left and far right to go into complete meltdown. Luckily most of us are not members of the fringe.

There are a certain number of people who loathe the President, and a number of them are on both Fox News and mainstream media outlets.  Nothing he says or does will keep them from ascribing evil motives to this rare glimpse into the back rooms of government.

Those folks scoffed at his insistence that funding for the wall be non-negotiable, called him heartless and cruel for proposing an end to chain migration, and labeled his merit-based immigration system “racism in its purest form”  Some even hinted that the whole thing was a pre-rehearsed attempt to “make him look less mentally incompetent.”

The very far right on the other hand think he’s sold out to the dark side.

“How could he!”  “He’s proposing amnesty for 11 million people!” “He gave up on the wall!”  “He sold out his base!” “W-a-a-a-a-a-ah!”

That was just on last night’s cable and broadcast news. Today is still young.

All in all, from this chair it was fun to watch an experienced CEO doing what he does best.

The truth is no one is going to get everything they want, even if the President does lock the doors until they get him something he can sign.

Judge for yourself. Watch the video with an open mind. So far this is the most comprehensive one I could find (ignore the attempt at phonic transcription on screen), but you are welcome to search for yourself. Remember the televised portion ran for 50-55 minutes. Anything substantially shorter has been too heavily edited to be of much use.

From → op-ed

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