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Outsiders vs. Insiders: How Trump masterfully set the stage for a SOTU address for the ages

As the nation prepares for Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday night pundits are in a tizzy attempting to anticipate what the president might say with tens of millions of people around the world intently watching.

Of course there will be the obligatory applause lines and “state of the union is strong” hyperbole, boilerplate phrases every president uses whether the words meet with reality or not. In truth we should all expect to hear a 2017 Trump Congresslot about Trump’s accomplishments in his first year and more calls for Congress to put aside petty partisan differences in order to pass his America First agenda -- all for the good of the country.

So some of the content is a mystery…but a lot of the speech is imminently predictable.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reported, ““Trump will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday at his first official State of the Union Address.

“The speech will come a day after Trump sends Congress a formal proposal to both reform immigration and protect the so-called ‘Dreamers.’ Lawmakers received an outline late last week and are eager to learn more about the plan, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, while curbing chain migration, and ending the visa lottery system.”

Ferrechio further added Trump will likely concentrate on his proposals for infrastructure as well – and then House and Senate Republicans will adjourn to The Greenbrier (on Wednesday) to hammer out a strategy for moving an agenda this year in advance of the very important midterm elections. No doubt the scenic and luxurious settings of the famous West Virginia resort will put lawmakers in the right frame of mind to get things rolling…but will they accomplish anything?

Though Trump will touch on a multitude of subjects in his SOTU address observers will be listening especially closely to his exact terminology on immigration. Conservatives want to know if the initial outline of Trump’s proposals last week was just a flexible beginning point of negotiations with the opposition or a cruel joke intended to jar the party base into mobilization to voice their displeasure.

It goes without saying amnesty – and citizenship – for the so-called “Dreamers” was not in any of Trump’s 2016 campaign speeches. If Trump and his advisors are now serious about enacting what was in the blueprint it creates a huge question mark as to how much GOP support the president can count on from his congressional caucus. Recent history suggests House conservatives won’t swallow any plan that includes citizenship and future voting rights for any type of illegal alien whether they’re “dreaming” or not.

Because of the passionate negative reaction a lot of folks are saying the administration’s proposal is dead on arrival, which includes the Democrats – and they’re the ones who were supposed to be happy with the plan in the first place. Ferrechio additionally reported, “The reception to the outline released last week has been mixed so far in Congress. Key conservatives including Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., said they support the proposal, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and McConnell.

“Democrats are unenthusiastic.

“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Trump’s proposal to limit chain migration and end the visa lottery ‘a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for years.’”

Therein lies the great unknown surrounding Trump’s latest immigration position; one, it doesn’t gel with what he campaigned on two years ago and two, the softer stance was clearly meant to appease Democrats and to encourage them to say nice things about the accommodating president and the amnesty olive branch he’s extended to his political enemies – but in reality they’ve reverted back to the same old “hardliner” talking points. The chances of them coming around are somewhere between slim and none, too.

What exactly is a “hardliner” anyway? Does favoring enforcement of America’s immigration laws make one a “hardliner”? Why don’t journalists then call every Democrat a “hardliner” on abortion because they’re universally opposed to any restrictions on the practice? It’s a practical certainty most if not all Democrats will vote against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this week, which would prohibit elective abortion beyond 20 weeks gestation.

Granted Democrats aren’t real bright but even they realize 20 weeks (or perhaps even younger) is the viability line for developing babies. Medical science is advancing all the time and more babies are “viable” sooner. Aborting an otherwise healthy child after 20 weeks is nothing short of infanticide. Does this mean Democrats are murder “hardliners”?

While most Republicans are indeed “hardliners” on immigration there are a few notable exceptions including Arizona #NeverTrump Senator Jeff Flake and South Carolina’s eternally wishy-washy Lindsey Graham. Graham has never paid much credence to the party base’s demands to simply enforce the immigration laws Congress passed and he’s proving to be a thorn in the side of those seeking to do so now.

Why is Graham even involved in the discussions? It’s something conservative firebrand Ann Coulter’s been wondering. Mandy Mayfield of the Washington Examiner reported, “’I think everyone is wondering, where is Lindsey Graham coming from. Who nominated him to be negotiating this,’ Coulter told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. ‘He ran for president, um, he got literally zero votes.’

“Coulter questioned why Republican senators would allow Graham to take the reins.

“’He was the first and most vicious at attacking Donald Trump the candidate,’ Coulter said. ‘So, why does he have a seat at the table at all on immigration negotiations.’”

‘Tis true; if one were to revisit all the harsh and unfair things Graham said about Trump during the campaign it would seem odd today that the 0% presidential candidate is even welcome at the White House much less taking a leading role in negotiating the party’s position on Trump’s signature issue. Like with most of his rivals (except for maybe Jeb Bush and John Kasich) Trump and Graham have forged a public friendship since the GOP nominee won the presidency but the latter doesn’t appear to have changed his tune on his “hardline” pro-amnesty position.

With Graham and Flake out front on immigration and the Democrats poo-pooing Trump’s new amnesty position one wonders if recent developments are just part of a big political theatrical production scripted to make everyone appear to favor forging a deal to “fix” the immigration problem when in reality they’re jostling for a superior position going into this year’s elections.

For his part Trump looks amenable to granting amnesty – and citizenship eventually – to the “Dreamers” which theoretically should ingratiate himself with a constituency that hates him and constantly accuses him of racism. Democrats clearly aren’t bargaining in good faith if Trump is essentially offering them everything they’ve asked for yet they default back to their “hardliner” accusations and grandstanding.

The conservative Republican base ends up the loser in all of this because one way or another DACA will probably be extended after the March 5 deadline and the country is no closer to realizing the common sense provisions of the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act – namely employment verification (E-verify) and a new emphasis on admitting only highly skilled immigrants instead of the random mixed bag of illegal over-stayers already anchored in the country.

One thought -- Trump could be offering amnesty knowing Democrats would reject it -- which would help his case to convince Majority Leader McConnell to ditch the filibuster on legislation. As has been noted on numerous occasions in the past year the Senate filibuster tradition has been abused to the point where it’s no longer useful for anything other than stalling the legislative process. If the Founding Fathers had intended for a 60-vote threshold in passing bills they would have enshrined it in the Constitution.

Or, Republicans could require Democrats to play out an actual talking filibuster on the senate floor. How long could they sustain it?

Everyone knows Democrats aren’t the slightest bit interested in letting the DACA issue go ahead of this year’s elections. They realize if they give in on the immigration issue now then Trump might look like the good guy – and what’s the need to vote for a Democrat if the “resistance” isn’t amounting to anything? Besides, if Trump ends up with his wall it will be the fulfillment of perhaps his most important campaign promise and visuals of it will appear on every single Republican campaign ad in 2018 and 2020.

And Democrats can’t have that, can they?

It could very well be Trump is floating solutions that won’t be palatable to either side assuring a stalemate and a huge political grudge match to force changes in the system through one-party action. Or, it could result in another amnesty-flavored government shutdown.

W. James Antle III wrote in the Washington Examiner over the weekend, “Democrats believe they are better positioned to win the second shutdown fight, in part because the onus will be on Trump and the Republicans to do something about DACA.

“Yet the last shutdown did not produce a clear-cut PR victory for the Democrats and made red-state Democratic senators — including some of the ten seeking re-election this year in states Trump carried in 2016 — nervous.

“Polls showed a lack of enthusiasm for an immigration-driven shutdown, despite public support for DACA.”

If there’s any public support for DACA it’s because Democrats and the media have somehow convinced people that “Dreamers” are little kids who (“through no fault of their own”) were dragged over the border hidden in their parents’ tattered belongings. It’s a rather romantic notion to envision these poor souls having braved hardship and potential death to establish themselves in a country that would otherwise deny them entry.

But there’s little actual romance here. The vast majority of would-be DACA recipients are now adults and Americans aren’t stupid. People may foresee “Dreamers” remaining in the country but allowing them to vote in the future (without going through the entire process) is going too far. The political class can’t go there; let the Democrats foster another shutdown to protect illegal aliens -- if they dare.

All eyes are on President Trump this week to see where the discussions will lead. It could be that a battle to the death over immigration is a fight Republicans should make. One way or another the president has set the stage for what promises to be a State of the Union speech to remember.

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Immigration

I was BETRAYED by PRESIDENT TRUMP, he has traded the safety and security that has made America the GREAT country it once WAS into a lawless third world country where LAWS mean Nothing .so these LAW BREAKERS would have AMNESTY? WHAT? I was one of TRUMPS most powerful supporter in my area I received congratulation calls from my friends upon his victory. total disappointment YOU LET ME and America down. in doing this you have succeeded in throwing everything right out the window that you had PROMISED to do FOR America.we can no longer feel safe BUT every LAW BREAKER that has SNUCK into our country now can continue to treat our laws with total contempt. again a very letdown supporter discussed at your actions on immigration did EXACTLY Barry the illegal would have done again terribly distraught Michael Barrett Omaha Ne. 4029335589

AMNESTY

Right on, Ted. NO AMNESTY. NO CITIZENSHIP. NO CHAIN MIGRATION. NO VISA LOTTERY. Just build THE WALL and strengthen border security. Deport the illegals.

amnesty

I am sorry for the "children" (now mostly now adults) who were brought here by their illegal parents but amnesty is not the solution. Let them go to their native country and apply through LEGAL channels like the law abiding rest of the real immigrants. If you are an illegal, you are not an "immigrant" but an invader. Don't make a farce out of our immigration system. NO OPEN BORDERS.