Commentary

Mr. Trump, Tear Down This Wall Myth

Some TV political moments are so memorable they become part of the zeitgeist.

Two exist as a critical counterpoint to the current shutdown.

In a 1963 speech, President Kennedy uttered these immortal words: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” It was a key Cold War moment — and a morale boost for West Berliners who lived in East Germany and feared occupation.

The subject was the concrete Berlin Wall, erected to keep East Germans from escaping to freedom in the West. Armed with machine guns, guards created a “death zone” to discourage flight.

Twenty-four years later, in 1989, President Ronald Reagan invoked JKF’s legacy at the Brandenburg Gate, when he told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall!”

Reagan added: “We welcome change and openness; for we believe freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.”

(Republicans pretend to worship Reagan; one wonders how the Gipper would have responded to Trump’s contempt for American law enforcement.)

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By contrast, President Trump has said: “I never worked for Russia.” That may go down in history alongside Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” As a historic moment, the Russia denial was unprecedented. It put the importance of moral leadership and patriotism front and center.

As a TV moment, it was disgraceful. In the middle of the longest (and avoidable) government shutdown, a U.S. president had to deny what no previous president has ever been asked: Are you a Russian operative?

And then there is the wall. Which Mexico would pay for.

As numerous security experts have noted, there already is a partial wall. Eminent domain and treacherous geography make a continuous edifice impossible. A wall will not address the issue of illegal immigrants. That problem is due to visa overstays. The number of people crossing the border illegally from Mexico is at historic lows, per U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Yes, border security is real — and both sides want it. There are many ways to improve it, including more border agents and high tech, including cameras, fixed towers and aerial and underground sensors. Investing in state-of-the-art detection technologies and strengthening the CBP’s Container Security Initiative can mitigate illicit trafficking.

Even if Trump did get his $5.6 billion, it would cover approximately 250 miles and take thousands of workers and years to build. If it’s a crisis, why didn't the obsequious GOP pass legislation when it ruled Congress?

Further, reports from The Department of Homeland Security say Trump’s proposed steel slats can be sawed through with rudimentary tools. How can he demand “border security” without checking quality control?

Enough division: All Americans care about border security. Let’s do it smartly and effectively. Let’s not conflate issues, which is dangerous.

Trump says 4,000 terrorists enter the country. True. But they came primarily through airports. Only six were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in the first half of 2018. By contrast, the CBP encountered 91 people at the U.S.-Canada border whose names were on a federal list of known or suspected terrorists, with 41 non-U.S. citizens or residents.

Trump also said the majority of illicit narcotics enter the United States via our Mexican border. Fact: Most drugs enter via our legal ports of entry, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Another disturbing fact: Thanks to the shutdown, border patrol is working without pay. So are the Coast Guard and a reduced TSA (Transportation Security Administration). One in 10 TSA workers called out Sunday, January 20. Call-outs have meant security checkpoint shutdowns at Baltimore, Houston, Miami and Atlanta airports. TSA security workers, along with air traffic controllers, worry that decreased personnel compromises our safety and security.

If there was ever a signal to America’s enemies that we’re vulnerable, Trump’s shutdown is it. Even John Podhoretz, editor of the conservative Commentary magazine, admits it’s a disaster of Trump’s own making. Bottom line: Shutdowns are painful. Innocent people caught in the political crossfire suffer. Key scientific and health initiatives stop. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for America.

It’s time for the reality-show president to have, like his predecessors, a real TV moment. No cheap theatrics. No name-calling. He needs to dig deep and join them in standing up for the collective values that define a great nation.

7 comments about "Mr. Trump, Tear Down This Wall Myth".
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  1. William Airy from FETV - Family Entertainment Television, January 25, 2019 at 11:13 a.m.

    Is Media Post becoming a forum for political commentary? This isn't why I signed up. Keep your political opinions to yourselves. There's enough of that on many other platforms.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 25, 2019 at 11:22 a.m.

    You are using logic and reason and this shut down demand has nothing to do with it. Besides it being a convenient diversion, it is about their goal: Indentured servitude and slavery through poverty. What do you call forcing people to work without paying them ? Any questions or skepticsim ? Read (a few times if necessary) "Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America" by Lynn Parramore for the Institute for New Economic Thinking. The article is about history, not analysization.

  3. Debra Howard from Information for Inspiration, January 25, 2019 at 11:46 a.m.

    This is a solid and thoughtful piece -- and it makes important points with facts, not rancor.
    MediaPost covers TV, so the point about TV moments and politics is fair. And Fern's points are not only historic; given Trump's love of TV, they are telling.
    She also underscores the issue of leadership -- and how key media moments define it. The press is a watchdog on power -- and this column is part of that process, rendered in a calm, rational and smart way. It is also a cogent argument as to why facts matter.

  4. Glenn Hansen from BPA Worldwide, January 25, 2019 at 11:50 a.m.

    I concur with William. This is the wrong channel for politics. I don't pay to go to a concert to hear the musician preach their political point of view and I am not interested in reading my "must read" trade press (compliment) to have the same.

    It's not that the Commentary doesn't matter, it does. I would prefer not to find it here.

    And these are my views, not that of my organization.

  5. David Mattson from Not Ordinary Media, January 25, 2019 at 4:32 p.m.

    There is no way that Trump, a damaged, infantile fool will ever have a real TV moment where he digs deep and says something meaningful.  The obseqious gop has been waiting for that for years now.  The rest of the country has moved on.  

  6. Jack Crystal from Nielsen Audio replied, January 25, 2019 at 5:04 p.m.

    Since when is stating facts considered political commentary? Every fact stated in this article can be backed by real hard evidence if one wants to take the time to study those issues. When lies are stated as facts again and again and again it becomes easier to take anything you don't agree with as political and therefore not true. Thank you Donald.

  7. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, January 28, 2019 at 8:52 a.m.

    "Wish" you were correct. The country has not moved on. Until enough people feel enough personal pain, nothing changes. The shutdown created personal pain but not enough for enough people for real change. The players are still playing: See Wilbur Ross who should have been in federal penatentary years ago for things to expansive to go into here. The country is still embroiled in accepting garbage as facts and until they feel their own downfall based and accepted of their own personal responsiblity of such, we are in for a lot worse than a month shut down. 

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