The Corner

Politics & Policy

Chuck Schumer Doesn’t Want An Immigration Deal

It’s hard to read Chuck Schumer’s announcement yesterday that a border wall is “off the table” and non-negotiable as anything but an effort to sabotage any deal with the Trump White House on immigration. Consider the state of play, all of which Schumer knows full well:

  • Trump will sign basically anything that he can claim includes “The Wall.”

  • Trump would be effectively admitting defeat if he signs something that he can’t claim includes “The Wall”:

     

  • If Trump is on board with an immigration deal with the Senate, that will give cover for it to pass the Republican-controlled House.

  • Most of the Republican voters who care about restricting immigration will take their cues from Trump if he says he got a wall from Schumer, and will be happy and encouraged regardless of what else is in the bill.

  • Most of the Democratic voting base will be furious at Democrats that they did something to make Trump happy – especially on his signature issue – regardless of what else is in the bill. The “Resistance” will treat this as the equivalent of a deal with Hitler.

  • The optics of a smiling Trump signing a bipartisan immigration deal will play well overall for Trump and Republicans, and will help defuse some of the most polarizing arguments against Trump.

  • Schumer expects to have more leverage to extract better terms in 2019, given that the Democrats are universally expected, at a minimum, to gain seats in the House in November.

As Jonah Goldberg argues, given that The Wall is such a symbolic lightning rod while being far from the most effective form of border control, a president who was focused on results would consider using it as a bargaining chip to get a better deal. I don’t doubt that Trump would do this on other issues, but he’s left himself little room to do so without having to go back to his voters a beaten man by Schumer, something that runs against every Trumpian instinct. Now that both Schumer and Trump have declared the wall non-negotiable, one of them has to cave or there’s no deal – a situation that was completely predictable when Schumer made his announcement.

It’s not irrational for Schumer to play hardball here and prefer to have immigration as a political wedge issue to striking a deal, although of course the consequence of that may be that a bunch of “Dreamers” get deported in the interim (if Trump and his team are serious, that is; Schumer may be gambling that they are not). But unless he reverses course, there should be no pretense that Schumer is trying to make a deal when he has taken the single step most likely to prevent one.

Most Popular

Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More
Film & TV

America’s Favorite Movie

For more than a decade, readers volunteering their ratings on the movie site IMDb have declared The Shawshank Redemption (1994) their favorite film of all time. (Number two is The Godfather). Unlike the unholy tablets that are the box office charts, which are strongly linked to marketing budgets and show a ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Media

The Media Owe Senator Tom Cotton an Apology

One of the biggest issues people have with the mainstream press these days is that some of its members are so insulated that they end up buying into and promoting false narratives without actually checking these narratives' veracity. That seems to be exactly what happened in mid February, when major outlets ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Welcome Back, Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Welcome Back, Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker ... Read More
U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More
U.S.

Some Good News Going into the Weekend

It’s Friday -- although I know it’s getting harder and harder to tell these days. You deserve a respite from yesterday’s gloom. (If you’re hungry for more gloom, there’s always the most recent edition of The Editors podcast -- and thank you, dear readers, for checking on me.) Today’s newsletter ... Read More

The Didactic Plague

There are two Christian concepts on my mind on this Palm Sunday. One is theodicy, the other is the sin of presumption. “Theodicy” means “the vindication of God,” referring to a seeming conundrum that has vexed Christian thinkers since the beginning: How can evil coexist with an all-good, all-loving, ... Read More

The Didactic Plague

There are two Christian concepts on my mind on this Palm Sunday. One is theodicy, the other is the sin of presumption. “Theodicy” means “the vindication of God,” referring to a seeming conundrum that has vexed Christian thinkers since the beginning: How can evil coexist with an all-good, all-loving, ... Read More