A rebuttal, that is. It wasn’t anything. When I first heard yesterday that the networks had taken the unorthodox step of granting the Democratic leadership’s request for equal time following the president’s Oval Office address, I was wondering how they planned to rebut a speech the content of which they hadn’t been privy to.
The answer is they weren’t. The tag team of Schumer and Pelosi appeared on live TV minutes after the president concluded his remarks, the two of them standing awkwardly behind a podium large enough only for one, Pelosi wearing enough facial makeup to camouflage the Fourth Fleet. If their goal was to raise sympathy for those who enter the country illegally claiming to seek asylum, they achieved it, at least visually, by looking for all the world like someone who — forgive the idiom! — just stepped off the boat.
I almost expected the first words out of either of their mouths to be a well-rehearsed, if haltingly enunciated, “Swwweep? Upp?” and what came out was nearly as embarrassing. Pelosi, who for some inexplicable reason was chosen to go first, began:
Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice.
If anything underscored the pointlessness of the entire exercise, it was this one-liner culled from the joint statement she and Schumer had delivered the previous day. Pelosi went on to rehash all the usual Democratic talking points — Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, the wall is expensive, the wall is ineffectual — except she was supposed to be making a case for these arguments to the American people, not just slinging one-liners.
She repeated for probably the thousandth time the claim that the president is holding innocent American workers hostage knowing full well that she and Schumer could end the shutdown with a phone call. In fact, the president in his address had requested a meeting with the entire congressional leadership at the White House this morning. There was no way Schumer or Pelosi could know that.