Trump won the night and Pelosi and Schumer Lost

 MARC A. THIESSEN Washington Post Writers Group 


President Trump did something Tuesday night that he has rarely done since taking office: He used the presidential bully pulpit to reach beyond his hardcore base of supporters to make his case to the American people as a whole.

Speaking from the Oval Office for the first time during his presidency, Trump embraced our country’s tradition as a nation of immigrants, declaring “America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation.” He then offered a cogent explanation for why he believes we face what he called “a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul” along our southern border.

He pointed out the human cost of our broken system to illegal migrants themselves, expressing compassion for the “children (who) are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs” and the “women (who) are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” He shared heartbreaking stories of Americans killed by criminal aliens who had no right to be here.

And he laid out his solution, which he explained was “developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents” and includes funds for cutting-edge technology, more border agents, more immigration judges, more bed space and medical support – and $5.7 billion for a “physical barrier” that he called “just common sense.” Without naming her, Trump responded to the absurd charge from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that a wall is “immoral.” Democrats voted repeatedly for physical barriers until he was elected president, he noted.

If a wall is immoral, Trump asked, “why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”

The president did not unilaterally declare a national emergency. Instead, he called for compromise and said, “To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife, whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken?”

He was, in short, presidential.

Democrats insisted on equal time, which is highly unusual for presidential addresses other than the State of the Union. It was a mistake. In contrast to Trump, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer came across as small and intransigent.

While Trump spoke calmly and rationally from behind the Resolute Desk, the Democratic leaders accused him of “pounding the table” and having a “temper tantrum.” While Trump told human stories, they complained about process. They accused him of arguing that the women and children at the border were “a security threat” when he had just explained to the American people that they were victims, too. They charged him with using the “backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.” They were partisan and petty, while Trump came across as reasonable and even compassionate.

To normal Americans watching in the heartland, and who are not steeped in Trump hatred, the president must have seemed like the adult in the room.

And, most important, Pelosi and Schumer failed to use the one word that millions of Americans were longing to hear – compromise. But Trump did. That is why the president won the night. Schumer and Pelosi appealed to their base, while Trump made an effective appeal to persuadable Americans.

Until now, Trump has owned the government shutdown that prompted this address, because he’s the one who started it. But if Democrats continue to attack him, and won’t entertain any compromise, soon the shutdown will be all theirs — because they’re the ones who have refused to end it.

  1. On January 10, 2019 at 7:59 am,
    Charles says:

    the most surprising thing to me is that this came from the Washington Post. Al and Cory thank you very much for posting. This might just be a turning point for Trump in public opinion of him.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am,
      Al Korelin says:

      I think that it could very well be a positive turning point for the President.

  2. On January 10, 2019 at 8:03 am,
    CFS says:

    Will Bezos’s pending divorce impact Wapo editorial bias?

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:04 pm,
      Al Korelin says:

      I actually would be surprised if that happened right away. But, hope that it does.

      • On January 10, 2019 at 12:05 pm,
        Al Korelin says:

        I am referring here to people’s opinion of Trump.

  3. On January 10, 2019 at 8:26 am,
    Charles says:

    Good question CFS. Personally, I doubt it.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 8:42 am,
      CFS says:

      Wapo and NYTimes no longer in lock-step?

      • On January 10, 2019 at 8:49 am,
        Charles says:

        No way NYTimes follows Wapo’s lead. They are going to live and die by what their homer Schumer wants.

        • On January 10, 2019 at 12:08 pm,
          Al Korelin says:

          Maybe. I don’t they follow any particular other paper’s lead I just think they follow trends because trends influence sales of papers.

  4. On January 10, 2019 at 8:28 am,
    AJ says:

    The more Trump talks, the less likely it is he’ll get his precious steel slats

    Another take. And anyway talking about ‘compromise’ is a bit rich considering McConnells’s six year of the ‘Party of No” obstructing Obama.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:10 pm,
      Al Korelin says:

      That is an interesting point, AJ. So,you are saying that it is “pay back time”

  5. On January 10, 2019 at 8:40 am,
    CFS says:

    Trump talks Wall:

    direct from the horses mouth, without media distortion…..just propaganda bias.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm,
      alkorelin says:

      Interesting speech. Listen to Charlotte Cuthbertson this weekend. She has actual facts and numbers.

  6. On January 10, 2019 at 8:50 am,
    Dick Tracy says:

    The other pressing problem for President Trump which is harder to solve than The Wall is his foreign policy. Trump needs to renounce war as an instrument of national policy. He needs to bring the boys home, this more than anything will define how successful he is as a President. DT

    • On January 10, 2019 at 9:37 am,
      CFS says:

      Dick Tracy,
      You appear not to be wise in political negotiation techniques.
      Never say never.
      Never take anything off the table without a reason or a gained advantage.
      Keep actual intentions to yourself.

      Not typically political, but I believe in Trump’s modus operandi:
      Behave honorably, and keep promises.

      • On January 10, 2019 at 12:17 pm,
        alkorelin says:

        There is a question regarding behaving honorably if you consider his sub par communication.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:15 pm,
      alkorelin says:

      Syria and Afghanistan so far, Mr. Tracy.

  7. On January 10, 2019 at 8:56 am,
    Charles says:

    IMO, I believe he will eventually bring the troops home to build the wall and other domestic infrastructure projects. Perhaps the “other infrasture projects” will be democratic based pet projects that will allow the dems to save face. In my mind the question is will he bring the troops home before or after there is a military “incident” with China.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 9:40 am,
      CFS says:

      The Army Corps of Engineers is not totally regular overseas deployed troops, but mostly reservists so trained.

      • On January 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm,
        alkorelin says:

        Thanks CFS, I did not realize that.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 9:48 am,
      CFS says:

      Trump appears to be moving supply organization to the border.

      • On January 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm,
        alkorelin says:

        Do you have a source?

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:19 pm,
      alkorelin says:

      Charles, I do not think you will see a military incident with China. America and China are too smart for that.

  8. On January 10, 2019 at 9:33 am,
    Dick Tracy says:

    The longer this government shut down lasts the more people will realize that they don’t need all those civil service employees. Listening to them complain about the lack of a paycheque is a joke, get a real job and learn what it is like to work hard and still not have job protection. DT

    • On January 10, 2019 at 10:27 am,
      Excelsior says:


    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:21 pm,
      alkorelin says:

      They seem to have the best job protection in the world.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:22 pm,
      DC says:


    • On January 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm,
      OOTB Jerry says:

      Govt employees….23,000,000
      Total employed…130,000,000
      Stats from the National Debt Clock

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:25 pm,
      alkorelin says:

      “Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow,” is a true statement coming from Zarif.

  9. On January 10, 2019 at 11:01 am,
    David says:

    What about Treasury trying to remove Russian corporate sanctions while no one looking. What’s that about?

  10. On January 10, 2019 at 12:29 pm,
    alkorelin says:

    That has not happened quite yet.

    • On January 10, 2019 at 12:39 pm,
      Excelsior says:

      Big Al – a number of folks wrote you back on yesterday’s political thread.

  11. On January 10, 2019 at 4:15 pm,
    Chris says:

    God Bless the USA and God Bless Trump, this is the fight for the soul of America. We shall win. Never surrender Mr. President!

  12. On January 10, 2019 at 6:53 pm,
    Debra says:

    I’m proud of president that’s not scared to stand for our country. Way to go Mr Trump!!