| December 11, 2018 02:58 PM
When House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York tried to move their Oval Office debate with President Trump over border wall funding behind closed doors, Trump had the right response.
“It’s not bad, Nancy,” he said. “It’s called transparency.”
Too often, political leaders in pitched battles will appear before cameras ahead of high-profile meetings and have nothing but kind words to say, which obscures actual tension, political differences, and real policy disputes.
Pelosi, Trump, and Schumer have very real differences over funding for a border wall that could lead to a government shutdown. As those differences played out in front of the national media that was on hand for what is typically nothing more than a photo op, those differences became apparent.
Trump argued, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.” He said that funding a border wall was central to the overall strategy of securing the border.
Schumer and Pelosi insisted that they wanted border security, but rejected the idea of a border wall, which they view as merely a campaign promise and not something that’s actually necessary.
In addition, there was an argument about the legislative process. Pelosi argued that House Republicans should pass a bill to get things moving, which Trump countered would be pointless, because Senate Democrats would block any bill from landing on his desk.
Schumer, meanwhile, dug into Trump, saying at one point, “When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.”
Repeatedly, Pelosi and Schumer wanted to move things behind the scenes.
“Let’s debate in private,” Schumer said.
“I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this,” Pelosi complained. Another time she lamented, “This is a most unfortunate thing. We came in here in good faith and we’re entering this kind of discussion in the public view.”
But Trump was clearly perfectly happy to let the press witness the confrontation.
Whatever one may say about Trump and his lack of civility and coarse tone, there is a positive side to dispensing with certain political niceties.