I hope you watched President Trump’s brief address last night on border security, and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s response. If not, click here:
The media being as it is these days, coverage mostly focused on attempts to twist and hair-split any of the statistics Trump cited, as if that would refute his entire premise that it’s not a good idea for the US to have a porous national border and to be hosting anywhere from 11 to 30 million illegal residents. There’s also a tendency to focus on style over substance, as if nitpicking Trump’s vocal inflections, necktie, or decision to speak from the Oval Office would refute the importance of what he was saying. So I’m going to buck the trend and discuss the substance first:
Watching the leaders of both parties speak on the same issue back-to-back gave me, and I’d bet many other Americans, a strong and unmistakable sense of the priorities of each party. Trump spoke of the vital importance of national security, enforcing laws, stopping the flow of deadly drugs, and protecting Americans from criminal illegal aliens who have killed, assaulted, raped and robbed thousands of US citizens. Pelosi and Schumer seemed obsessed with one thing only: getting the government reopened. They repeatedly downplayed the stats and tragic stories quoted by Trump, dismissing the whole issue of border security as a manufactured crisis (I doubt they’d say that if one of their own family members had been victimized, but then, they have armed security.) It was blindingly obvious that to them, the real crisis was that a fraction of the government was shut down, and some federal workers’ checks might be delayed.
So to sum up the substance:
Trump: Wants to protect Americans from drugs, gangs, terrorists and the crippling economic effects of illegal immigration and to protect migrants from a dangerous journey inspired by the belief that our border is easy to cross illegally.
Pelosi and Schumer: Want to protect government workers from missing a paycheck.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the style.
Trump chose to address America from the Oval Office in prime time, which indicates how serious he considers this issue to be. This lends a gravitas that no tweet storm can match. I’m sure he wanted to appear “Presidential” and convey the seriousness of the issue, even though some critics complained that he seemed more subdued than usual and just stuck to the prepared script. I’m sure he knew that if he dared go off script by even a semi-colon, the media would be waiting to pounce and claim he made a “gaffe” (or as they call that, a “LIE!!!”) So at the risk of seeming less loose and animated than he does at his rallies, he stuck to the script and spoke with seriousness and compassion about Americans who have lost loved ones because of violent criminals who never would have been on US soil if everyone in government took immigration law enforcement seriously.
As for Pelosi and Schumer: As the overwhelming response online shows, if we were grading this on style points, it would be a Trump blowout. He didn’t have to give the performance of a lifetime, he just had to come across better than them, and they set the bar so low a worm couldn’t limbo under it.
Standing side-by-side and staring with disturbing intensity into the camera like the great-grandparents of the “Children of the Damned”…
…Schumer and Pelosi inspired many creative metaphors and memes. They were described as “wooden,” “transparently disingenuous,” and “embalmed;” resembling morticians; the zombie version of “American Gothic;” “what you see when you show up at the gates of Hell;” “look like they’re selling me a reverse mortgage” (Greg Gutfeld); and this gem from Ken Webster Jr: “They look like the neighbors who you didn't wanna invite to the block party but did anyway because you ran into them at the grocery store.”
You know it was a bad night for the Democrats when even Stephen Colbert is creating memes making fun of them.
Moving past the Gomez and Morticia visuals, Speaker Pelosi also displayed an annoying verbal tic of repeating the phrase, “The fact is…” I understand why she or her writers chose to do this: it plays into the media-driven narrative that Republicans only offer lies and misrepresentations while the left is a veritable fountain of incontrovertible facts. I know this to be a big trough of hogwash because I’ve made a pretty good living in the media over the past decade, mostly by offering factual rebuttals to liberal talking points.
The fact is that saying “the fact is” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re about to hear anything approaching a fact. When it’s coming from the likes of Pelosi and Schumer, it’s actually a pretty good indicator that you’re about to hear something that’s not a fact. That, and their lips are moving.
Say, here’s an actual fact: as recently as 2013, Chuck Schumer was among all the 54 Democrats then in the Senate who voted to provide $46 billion to build “no fewer than 700 miles of fencing” on our Southern border. That’s over nine times the amount of funding Trump is requesting now. Apparently, the rules of morality have changed since then, or else walls aren’t immoral if you call them “fences.”
Meanwhile, anyone who thinks the dueling media statements will mark the end of this doesn’t know Trump. He’s already planning an appearance at the border tomorrow, to force the media to turn cameras on near it.
This is a shrewd strategy, since it’s very easy for coastal media elites to tell people on the border that there is no border security crisis, just as it’s easy for people with high-paying media jobs to tell unemployed construction workers that illegal immigration doesn’t undermine employment for Americans.
Stephen Kruiser at PJ Media perhaps summed up this arrogant cluelessness best when he blogged this comment:
“I've been waiting my entire adult life for a President who would tell the truth about the US/Mexico border. Most in the GOP bought into the ‘plucky worker who just wanted a better life’ narrative and wouldn't acknowledge any of the criminal activity. I lived 12 blocks from the border in 5th grade and we had drug smugglers arrested in our yard one night. This has been the reality in Arizona (more so than any other border state) for decades. The President was right about all of the problems…Now a bunch of people on the East Coast who have never been near this border for more than a day in their lives are going to ‘fact check’ and tell me I'm seeing things.”