Trump throws tantrum in confrontation with Democrats in the Oval Office
While "discussing" a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: "we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”
The Oval Office has provided the country its worst political episode in recent months, and that’s saying a lot in the Trump era.
Incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sat face to face with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday for less than an hour, to argue in front of the cameras about a solution that could keep the government running after December 21.
But there was nothing to discuss.
Presidential demagoguery sidetracked any attempt at negotiation between the two sides when it came to compromising on $1.3 billion for border security, in exchange for keeping the government going.
"We need to secure the border," the president repeated incessantly, speaking over Pelosi. "One way or another we are going to build the wall."
Trump flaunted figures that "proved” the effectiveness of a supposed "wall" that has been built in the areas of San Diego, El Paso, and Tucson, ensuring that "illegal traffic has dropped by 92 percent once the wall was up."
No one knows for sure what wall exactly the president is talking about.
There are no signs of the wall of more than 1000 miles along the border with Mexico that he made a central component of his campaign. While some prototypes have already been built at the border, formal construction has not begun, due to a lack of federal funds.
What the president may have wanted to say is that some areas of the border fence have had to be repaired in recent months.
One way or another, there are no official figures or numbers that demonstrate objectively that a wall is really the best solution to deal with undocumented immigration. Given that this is a government that does not believe in scientific facts (think climate change, for example), it's no surprise the president will overlook any need for objectivity at his whim.
Most alarming about the clash in the Oval Office was the level of verbiage that was unleashed as the temperamental president felt cornered.
Trump said that "hundreds of immigrants with contagious diseases" are crossing the border, and even claimed that his government has apprehended "ten terrorists" in recent months.
Democrats tried to make him understand that they brought "solutions that would pass the House and the Senate right now and would not shut down the government,” urging him to consider it.
"We have come here as the first branch of government, and in good faith to negotiate with you and keep the government open," Pelosi said.
"We will keep the government open if we have border security," Trump responded, assuring that this includes his desired wall.
Even though Democrats insisted that "border security can be achieved" without the need for a wall, Trump could not maintain a civil dialogue and, literally, just crossed his arms.
"This is what I am going to say: if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other - whether it’s through you, through the military, through anything you want to call - I will shut down the government, and I am proud to shut down the government for border security," the president said.
Following the televised theatrics, Trump, Schumer and Pelosi met behind closed doors where presumably they could delve into the options on the table.
Upon leaving, Democratic leaders said in a joint statement that, "we gave the President two options that could keep the government open. It’s his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down."
In almost 17 minutes, the country witnessed not just the depth of the current political fracture, but also the level of pathos with which the nation's most important issues are debated.