- - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” — 1 Corinthians 13

How bad are things in the Senate?

This bad: When senators from both parties gathered over the weekend to privately discuss how to end the government shutdown, they were forced to resort to using a “talking stick.” Hold the talking stick, only you can talk. Everyone else has to put on their listening hats.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, had invited a couple dozen senators to her Capitol Hill office to discuss the standoff. She established the talking stick rule, and everyone abided by it — until Virginia Democrat Sen. Mark Warner interrupted Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.

While Mr. Alexander was speaking, Mr. Warner cut him off and asked a question — and then interrupted himself to ask an even longer question. “The member who was holding the stick ‘forcefully delivered’ the stick across the room — but it missed its mark and caused damage to a shelf in Collins’ office,” CNN reported.

The stick hit a glass elephant sitting on the shelf, chipping it. After the incident, Mrs. Collins replaced the stick with a small rubber ball.

This is the state of our federal government. Grown men and women cannot hold a civil discussion — even with a talking stick.

The three-day shutdown of the government was the most childish in history. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer had no end game at all, he simply wanted to shut it all down. And you want to know the real reason? Because he couldn’t stand the idea that President Trump was heading down to Mar-a-Lago to host a big party to celebrate his anniversary (which was Saturday).

That’s the real reason. Democrats (and their pals in the media) have declared that Republicans refused to budge in negotiations over the fate of illegal aliens in the country, forcing the shutdown. But really, Mr. Schumer just couldn’t stomach the idea that Mr. Trump was going to throw a glitzy bash surrounded by a slew of partying Republicans.

In desperation, Democrats tried to dub the fiasco #TrumpShutdown.

“Today we enter the third day of the Trump Shutdown, the first ever real shutdown to occur when one party controls the entire legislative process,” Mr. Schumer said Monday. “The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and yet they were unable to keep the government open for the American people.”

The claim was, as usual, disingenuous. The Senate needed 60 votes to move forward, and there are only 54 Republicans in the chamber. Mr. Schumer knows that, which makes the “claim” a “lie.”

But #TrumpShutdown didn’t stick. Instead, the more musical moniker took hold — #SchumerShutdown. And when Chuckie caved, liberals were furious. All it took for Mr. Schumer to bail was a vague vow from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on immigration. He can’t promise the House will pass anything, nor that Mr. Trump will sign whatever passes. Mr. Schumer, though, jumped at the deal to get out of the pickle he alone had created.

Afterward, Mr. Schumer again blamed Trump. “President Trump’s inability to negotiate with Congress is what caused the three-day government shutdown from which we’ve just emerged,” he said.

But it’s not the president’s job to “negotiate” with Congress. Lawmakers are elected to govern, and the president’s sole role in the process is to sign or veto whatever bill they may pass. (Note to Mr. Schumer — go reread Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution if you’re confused about your role.)

In the end, Mr. Schumer cared more about the “Dreamers” — a euphemism for “illegal aliens” — then he did about Americans. And while he claimed to have been negotiating in good faith with Trump — “I put his signature campaign issue on the table in exchange and still, he turned away” — in reality he acted like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

And his real intent is clear. On Tuesday, Mr. Schumer pulled the offer he made last week to give Mr. Trump the $1.6 billion he asked for to begin construction on a southern border wall. “He called the White House yesterday and said it’s over,” Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, told Politico.

Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said the offer “never existed.” “You can’t rescind money you never really offered in the first place,” he said on Fox News.

So on and on it goes a playground fight among toddlers. Perhaps it’s time to give them all a long timeout and find some legislators who play nice with others — or at least don’t need a “talking stick” to be heard — and can actually get some work done.

That is, after all, why they’re there in the first place.

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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