The securing of the southern border is President Trump’s “Read my lips” moment.
In 1988, Vice President George W. Bush stood before his national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, and proclaimed in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president: “Read my lips — NO new taxes.” Then when he became president, he broke that pledge, albeit in good faith and with bipartisan support for a tax increase. Thereafter, he lost his re-election due in large part to the breaking of his fundamental promise.
Securing our southern border was a fundamental promise made by candidate Trump at the Republican convention acceptance speech as well as his campaign for president. The president’s current slogan is “Promises Made — Promises Kept.” He cannot stumble, falter or fail in making good on that fundamental promise.
So, the president in his current battle to make good on his promise leaves him no option but to make good on it. He is in far worse shape if he caves than if he stands his ground on the government shutdown and holds out for a bargain that fundamentally makes good on that promise.
We are stuck in a world of semantics with regard to border security. Trump calls for the building of a “wall” and Democrats call for “border security.” The bottom line is that Democrats were for a wall before they were against it. In 2006, then-Senator Obama and Senator Schumer took to the floor of the Senate to passionately orate in favor of “The Secure Border Act of 2006” which called for more that 700 miles of “border fencing.” The act passed with wide bipartisan support.
Today, Democrats opposition to border security has everything to do with politics and little to do with security. They know that if Trump gets anything close to what he promised he will have won and will never let them forget about it since it will require many Senate Democrats and House Democrats to make it a reality.
The government shutdown is a stunt. It has no lasting effect on federal workers affected and they are mere pawns in a political showdown and game of chicken. Since, 1977 there have been 22 shutdowns — most never go more than a few days and never have gone more than a month. In fact, the longest shutdowns have occurred during Democrat White House Administrations — Carter, Clinton, and Obama. No federal worker ever lost a dime. The pay is retroactively paid.
President Trump cannot and must not be extorted and public employees should not be played. Democrats are being unreasonable. A $5 billion appropriation for border security is a deal Trump will be willing to negotiate. Democrats can call it “Border Security” and the president can call it a “Wall.” Everyone wins.
Perhaps the president needs to make this government shutdown the longest in history if Democrats will not deal in order to make future government shutdown a “third rail” that no one will want to touch in the future.
If the shutdown is not over by the time of the State of the Union, then the president will have a captive audience of House and Senate Democrats as well as a broad audience of Americans to shame Congress and make his case for border security and standing on principle. He should pack the gallery with real life people who are examples of the need for border security.
The president cannot and must not backdown. Democrats are fighting over pennies. The longer the shutdown continues it is likely to cost our economy more than the actual appropriation sought by the president. There is a cost to this stunt — politically and economically.
Democrats are talking to a “wall” when they meet with the president and they know it. It is only a matter of time when they will cave. They should come to the table in good faith and seek a bargain. President Trump is a deal maker — you have to give something to get something.
A deal is only as good as it is for both parties with divided government. Compromise is the only way a deal can be made. Compromise is the only way a deal is possible.
Democrats are facing an adversary who is not going to be bullied. If they want to deal today, tomorrow, next week, a month from now, or longer to reopen this partial government shutdown is totally up to them.
Bradley Blakeman was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel. He currently is a Principal with the 1600group.com a consulting company. — Click Here Now.