Consider this a little tough-love diplomacy, better known as the “no defense like a good offense” strategy. As the clock ticks down to the Senate vote, Democrats and a few Republicans have tried to blame Donald Trump for a lack of clarity on his demands for both DACA and the continuing resolution. Yesterday, Chuck Schumer said talking with Trump is “like negotiating with Jell-O”:
Schumer claimed he’d “bent over backwards” to meet Trump’s demands, but that’s misleading, Kevin McCarthy told Hugh Hewitt this morning. Schumer didn’t put funding for the wall on the table, despite what the Minority Leader claimed yesterday; he put an authorization for the wall on the table, which doesn’t mean anything in terms of funding. Democrats pulled a similar trick in 2006.
The White House played hardball in return, releasing an ad that called Democrats “complicit” in crimes committed by illegal aliens until they secured the border. George Stephanopoulos challenged Sarah Huckabee Sanders on that point, but the press secretary went one step further. If Schumer can’t figure out what the president wants, she told Stephanopoulos, perhaps he should seek some assistance in reading comprehension.
“Do you really want to be questioning Senator Schumer’s knowledge of this legislation?” an incredulous Stephanopoulos asked. Er, that wasn’t what Sanders had said, so she explains it a little more slowly to the Good Morning America host:
“The president’s been very clear … on exactly what he wants,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”
“He wants to make a deal on DACA,” the program that protects young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, Sanders said. “The fact that Democrats are trying to pretend as if that is something that we haven’t put on the table is disingenuous and a bit ridiculous.”
“First and foremost we have to reopen our government. We have to fund our government. As soon as that is done, we’re more than happy to negotiate on responsible immigration reform.”
In fairness, there has been more than a little ambiguity in the White House position on DACA, but that has nothing to do with this government shutdown. Trump has been crystal clear that he will not negotiate the program while Democrats block funding for other priorities. As Sanders points out, Democrats do not object to the actual CR at all, and the DACA deadline is more than six weeks out. This is nothing more than a political stunt to appease the “resistance” progressives who are itching for a fight.
Democrats need government running more than Republicans. The White House can direct the optics over the long run and shut down the parts of government that Democrats love most — regulatory efforts and lots and lots of union jobs. By the time this is over, the Democratic Party might discover that everyone has room for Jell-O.