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Opinion

He Said, She and He Said

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Posted: Jan 10, 2019 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.

The budget shutdown is currently the second-longest on record, on track to break the 1995-96 shutdown, which lasted 21 days. That shutdown -- between President Bill Clinton and my dad, Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., was over a seven-year budget. They eventually compromised and passed a budget.

Once the sides have been staked out, it becomes hard to end a shutdown. To properly compromise, both sides need to walk away winning something, to be able to communicate to their side that they that they were successful.

This current stalemate does not seem to leave room for such a compromise. A budget bill needs to pass the House and Senate before heading to the president's desk for signature. The Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans, is unlikely to address any bill that President Donald Trump does not support.

In an effort to follow former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's advice and win the argument before winning the vote, President Trump addressed the country from the Oval Office Tuesday night. His message was clear and compelling: "There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border," and we need to resolve it. His solution? A "proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges to process the sharp rise of unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy."

Included in the request were "humanitarian assistance and medical support," closing "border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home" and "$5.7 billion for a physical barrier."

Trump included a detailed description of the solution, and then went on to list in human terms why a solution is needed both for those caught up in illegal immigration and for Americans at home.

"Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States, a dramatic increase," said Trump. "These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system."

Trump then listed American citizens killed or attacked by illegal aliens.

"In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl."

At the end, Trump stood firm, declaring that "the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., addressed the country afterward from their perspectives. They stood together at a podium, with flags lined behind their stern, serious faces, as if to convey that they were the grown-ups in the discussion. Their approach: We are responsible, Trump lies, the only solution is to open the government and then negotiate.

"Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice," said Pelosi. "The president has chosen fear... the president is rejecting (the) bipartisan bills which would reopen government."

She continued, "and the fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government."

Schumer laid out a picture of Trump as a child: "No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage." He then reframed Trump as a bogeyman, a divider in chief. "Tonight, and throughout this debate and his presidency, President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts; division, not unity."

Schumer then laid out his pitch: "Mr. President, reopen the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now."

Trump's appeal was on target, but the question becomes this: Did his message resonate with the majority of the American people? Do they agree that there is a crisis at the border and believe that his approach will fix it, or does Pelosi and Schumer's proposal to reopen and solve later appeal to more Americans?

Unfortunately, in our age of easy solutions and fast fixes, they might just have a real chance.