Incompetence To Be Proven?

Over last weekend we kept hearing of a much vaunted Tuesday meeting President Trump was going to have with the four Congressional leaders. On Tuesday morning he tweeted that the meeting was going to be a waste of time because Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were such bad people. To steal a line from former Senator Barbara Boxer, it is like she invited you to dinner and a few hours before told the world that you were a serial killer. You might not attend the dinner party. Schumer and Pelosi sent their “regrets” on Tuesday morning. There is more here than meets the eye. Let’s explore.  

Perhaps most crucial and certainly most pressing among the topics for discussion was avoiding a government shutdown on December 8th. The Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. All they have to do is get their members to vote for a clean Continuing Resolution and they can keep the lights on as long as they wish without any votes from the Democrats. Mitch McConnell, even though he doesn’t have a lot of votes to spare, can almost undoubtedly get that passed in the Senate. The problem is in the House. Speaker Paul Ryan is not much of a leader and his caucus is much more of a coalition which he has no control over. The reality is that despite having a huge margin he needs Democratic votes to get it passed. This is not my speculation; this is history’s lesson.

Possibly the only thing that exceeds Trump’s ignorance of governing is his apathy toward it. The reality is that he will sign whatever CR crosses his desk when, in fact, one does. Therefore he has rendered himself irrelevant in this process. With his tweet he made achieving an agreement much more difficult and (from the Republican perspective) expensive.

What Trump cares about is Trump. He revealed his spin Tuesday afternoon flanked by two empty chairs. (The empty chair thing worked so well for the GOP in 2012 – not!) He is going to blame a shutdown on the Democrats. The problem is that other than his minions the rest of the world will blame it on him, his ignorance of how government works and his tweet. (You would think someone who claims to be so brilliant would have an idea of how Washington works after 10 months in office.)

Other than patriotism and duty, the Democrats actually have a political incentive to let the Republicans self-destruct. With control of both chambers of Congress and the White House the Republicans inability to keep the lights on would make for some great campaign ads! Fortunately for America, Schumer and Pelosi are patriots that take the responsibilities of their positions seriously.

As late as Monday I expected a deal with Pelosi dictating the terms. She is the power person in this situation. I did not expect a government shutdown. Now I’m not so certain. I feel there is a genuine chance of a totally unnecessary government shutdown. If it is averted that will most likely occur via an eleventh hour deal. Nancy is still holding the aces and her price probably just went up. Democratic leadership may be too old but at least it exists. With the exception of McConnell (no youngster) I can’t see any competent leadership on the Republican side.

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