Tuesday's heated discussion among President Donald Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was must-see TV for anyone who cares about the country.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a possible continuing resolution to fund the government through the holidays. By the end of the meeting, Trump had left no doubt that he wants the resolution to include funding for the southwest border wall.
Pelosi and Schumer stuck to their "We don't need a wall for safety" talking point and repeatedly stated that they did not want to shut down government.
Trump made it clear that he cares passionately about border security. He was serious, sincere, forceful and glad to talk in front of the cameras. As French President Emmanuel Macron faces national riots and Prime Minister Teresa May faces a possible no-confidence vote from her own party, Trump was portraying care, concern and strength. Success.
While Pelosi was lobbying for the spectacle to be moved to a private setting, Schumer focused on repeating that Trump had threatened to close down the government 20 times before.
Trump went ahead and took responsibility for holding tight to his principles. "I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck," Trump declared. "Because the people of this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into this country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I won't blame you for it."
Why does Trump care about the wall? "We need border security," he said, citing the wall as a way to keep out terrorists. "You can't have very good border security without the wall."
Trump's message? The buck stops with me. A welcome message in a time when too many people are willing to pass the buck.
The Drug Enforcement Agency's 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment provides strength to Trump's views:
"Drug poisoning deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States; they are currently at their highest ever recorded level," the report concluded. Additionally, deaths from drugs "have outnumbered deaths by firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicide, and homicide" every year since 2011.
Based on this fact alone, Americans should be rioting in the streets to make sure government combats this problem.
Where does heroin come from? "Mexico remains the primary source of heroin available in the United States," the report says. In 2016, heroin from Mexico made up over 80 percent distributed in the United States. From 2000 to 2010, it made up less than 50 percent.
The result has been that more people are being admitted to treatment centers for heroin addiction. "Between 2005 and 2015, the number of admissions to publicly funded facilities for primary heroin abuse increased by 54 percent, from 260,902 to 401,743 admissions," according to the report. "Heroin admissions in 2015 increased 26 percent over the prior year."
U.S. deaths from heroin increased 500 percent from 2008 to 2016. There were five times more deaths from heroin at the end of the Obama administration than there were at the beginning.
Heroin is not Mexico's only illegal export. "Most of the methamphetamine available in the United States (is) being produced in Mexico and smuggled across the Southwest Border," the report says.
Clearly, there is a need to stop the gush of illegal drugs that are traveling across our southwest border, leading to addiction and death of our people.
And the threats don't stop there. According to a Nov. 26 article by Todd Bensman for the Center for Immigration Studies, titled "Have Terrorists Crossed our Border?" the answer is that the terrorist threat is real.
In all, "15 suspected terrorists have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, or en route, since 2001." Based on public reporting, Bensman notes that this is probably a "significant under-count."
"At least five of the 15 were prosecuted for crimes in North American courts," wrote Bensman.
So we have drugs flooding into our country, and suspected terrorists entering.
However, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll recently released, "by a 21-point margin -- 57 percent to 36 percent -- Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown ... two-thirds of Republicans say the opposite."
It will be interesting to see if Trump can persuade the majority of the country to agree to a wall -- or shore up his base -- and push forward to set the stage for 2020. As Margaret Thatcher said, "First you win the argument, then you win the vote."
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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