I’m not ready to say that President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders are in cahoots. I don’t know that. I can’t conclusively prove that, ahead of the live televised dissing match, they agreed to, — what was the word Nancy Pelosi used? — “tinkle on each other.” Nevertheless, they all should be tinkled pink with how they ended up looking to their respective bases. It had all the authenticity of a World Wrestling Entertainment match. Let us not forget that the former WWE CEO is now in Trump’s administration; Linda McMahon heads the Small Business Administration. Let us also not forget that Donald Trump used to occasionally appear in some WWE buffoonery. Who knew it would be part of his POTUS preparation?
Again, it’s too much to believe that the Donald Trump/Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer tag team were operating off a script. First of all, they’re not that clever. Still, they could pretend that they were there in the ring (actually, an oval — the Oval Office) and be resolute a foot or two away from the so-called Resolute desk, where this president usually sits with his arms crossed like a kid refusing to eat something. Gee, what a surprise that news cameras were there as the gladiators abandoned their usual polite fake moves, and were decidedly impolite.
What was not surprising is that Schumer and the Trumpster were nasty to each other. They are New Yorkers. But Nancy Pelosi plays a gentler game because, dare I say it, she’s a female warrior who has brought a highly effective woman’s touch to the political brawl. Once again, she was the star of this show. Beforehand, she was in combat with rebellious fellow Democrats, maneuvering to get the votes she needed to take back the speaker spot now that her party will be back in control of the House. After the White House Smackdown, it was no contest.
Still, at the moment, it’s a lame-duck Congress. While the Trump-captive GOP maintains control in both outgoing chambers, the majority R’s and minority D’s must come to some accommodation to avoid a federal government shutdown. It’s not a total shutdown, just a partial one, but it’s disruptive enough that it’s something to be avoided. Always, ALWAYS, the drama kings and queens who run Washington play their silly games of chicken before finally, at the last gasp, arranging a bargain. Well, that’s usually the case, except when they don’t reach a deal, and then the spit hits the fan while everyone tries to notice the difference between the agencies at full strength and those operating on fumes for a few days.
Normally the parties are posturing in public while dealing behind the scenes. What we witnessed on our tellies was extreme posturing — Trump insisting he wants billions of dollars for his border wall; Democrats digging in their heels, saying “no way” and leaving an impression that agreement was impossible.
Actually, this could well be a sign that the various sides will come together before deadline time. Trump and the Democratic leaders have made a show of reassuring their bases that they consider the other side pond scum. Now, privately, they can work the phones and trade creative ideas and come up with a compromise that everyone hates — the very definition of “compromise.”
As for Pelosi, it was no coincidence that following her showing during the donnybrook with Donny Trump, she had a heroine’s welcome back at her caucus. Shortly thereafter, enough dissidents fell in line that she locked up the votes she needs to regain the speaker’s job when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3, and first order of business is to elect leaders, new and old. Then it’s “let the games begin,” although as we’ve witnessed on live television, the games are well underway. We’ll find out soon enough whether the sniping turns into all-out political war.
• By BOB FRANKEN