Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi declined to meet with President Trump and their Republican counterparts yesterday in a move that should be seen as more political than the narrative they’re trying to push. They want us to believe they’re sick and tired of the President Tweeting insults at them, but they’re really attempting to drive a wedge between the White House and the GOP-controlled Congress. It won’t work, so they’re moving on to plan B: pinning a government shutdown on the Republicans.
Their source material for such a narrative is limited to two things. The GOP has control of the House, Senate, and White House and they’re known as the party of shutdowns after essentially taking the blame in 2013. That’s all they have to work with, but they also have the advantage of the mainstream media backing their play.
For the Republicans to be forced into a shutdown and still be able to blame the Democrats, they’re going to have to do something that goes against most lawmakers’ nature: following Trump’s Twitter lead. As crazy as it sounds, this is a game of spin and they’re ill-equipped to win such a battle. The only person who can spin with the Democrats is the President and the only way he can be successful at doing it is if the vast majority of Republican lawmakers in DC back his play.
That means a unified counter-narrative. It’s risky, particularly if the President can’t properly articulate the problem, but they have to back him either way. If there’s any mixed message coming out of the GOP’s camp, the unified Democrats will demolish them in the court of public opinion. They’ll end up making another bad deal for the country, one that will not advance the GOP’s agenda.
The moves need to be made now. Unfortunately, the wildcard here is Trump himself. Can he be restrained to focus on attacking the Democrats on this singular issue or will he be baited into discussing everything else? That’s not to say he can’t send out Tweets about tax cuts and other issues, but he needs to highlight the Democrats’ obstruction on passing a spending deal if there’s any hopes of actually passing one or being able to put them blame on them if they can’t get it done.
The Democrats are making Trump’s Tweets the focus of their angst knowing that most Americans will back them in principle that the President needs to tone it down on Twitter. Instead of backing down, the GOP must temporarily embrace the one tool they have that can reverse the narrative if a shutdown happens. They have to embrace the President’s Tweets, for better or for worse.
Democratic leaders ignited a new shutdown showdown in Washington on Tuesday after they refused to show for what was supposed to be a bipartisan meeting with President Trump, trying to cut him out of negotiations as Congress faces a long to-do list before year’s end.
Their attempt to divide and conquer failed, though, after Republican leaders stuck by Mr. Trump and attended the meeting at the White House anyway, saying Democrats were recklessly risking a shutdown by refusing to talk to the country’s chief executive and the man who must sign whatever bills Congress eventually passes.