Another installment on our congresswoman from New Jersey, democrat Honoria Torres. Interview in the Rotunda.
Luanne and LION NEWS, January 28th, 2019, remote, Washington, Capital Rotunda
LUANNE, LION NEWS (LL): Congresswoman Torres! A minute of your time!
TORRES (T): Hi, Luanne! Haven’t talked to you in a couple weeks… things certainly get complicated, don’t they?
LL: Yes, Congresswoman, they do. What is your take on the president caving into what many say was inevitable?
T: Well, sooner or later someone had to blink. But this three-week pause should be about hard work… and many of my peers on both sides of the aisle took the weekend off after the announcement, and I have been excluded from committee discussions on the matter.
LL: Why is that?
T: Well, as I am sure you know, I have criticized the democratic leadership for not attacking the situation. We can debate the wall. We can debate the money. But what the leadership should be doing…
LL: You mean Speaker Pelosi…
T: Yes, and those who advise her, which advice has been very poor…
LL: You mean Senator Schumer?
T: You’re getting warmer, Luanne. Look, the democratic caucus should have had demands for a compromise a mile long, and I said as much a month ago. We can own the immigration result. Trump wants his wall money, and the physical nature of that could be anything, as you well know. If he has his rather overly simplistic wall agreed to, he’ll cave, and I mean collapse like a straw hut in a rainstorm, to virtually any reasonable democratic demands for immigration reform. He will claim a victory because of the wall. He does not look beyond 2020, of course. But neither does my party’s leadership.
Instead, Trump grasped the initiative, and offered proposals first. The democrats should have had the proposals first! The democratic leadership should have taken the initiative and run with it. Once the democratic majority got behind a proposal that included a wall, it would have been incumbent on Trump to corral the republican minority in the house to agree, and ultimately the Senate majority. And it still wouldn’t happen unless both parties’ reps showed real courage to make things happen on immigration.
But this debate isn’t about solving anything. It has even less to do with the effectiveness of a wall. The speaker wants the president to look bad. She smells the presidency, not for herself, but for a democrat. Having an immigration rallying cry to the democratic base in the runup to 2020 is what this is about.
It is an astonishing lapse of leadership by my own party. I am shocked and disappointed.
LL: Don’t you think the president wants to protect America?
T: Maybe a little. But he really wants to protect himself, and his reelection efforts. He will not reap the whirlwind. Our children will.
LL: Do you think the speaker inviting the president to make a State of the Union address on February 5th is a good sign that there is a chance at compromise?
T: Again, maybe. But I still believe everything is calculated. I know that sounds cynical, but the speaker makes the most calculations. Her absence this weekend and her recent junkets have been received poorly by everyone except those who are in her inner circle and those who fear her wrath.
I am neither. And I am not alone. The point is that the invite to the event is part of a larger calculation… I suspect that Mueller’s investigation will wrap up soon, and it will either be devastating to Trump, or a big yawn. She is covering both bases here. And don’t rule out a stunt by someone in the caucus at the State of the Union.
LL: Will you attend?
T: Of course! I don’t care for the heightened security, and some of the nonsense hyperbole and overwrought guest stories to make a political point. Some of the theater is over the top and, well, just unnecessary.
But these chambers are rarely full. In fact, they are mostly empty. When filled you sense the momentum of history. When empty, I feel a sense of loss, of great things not being done in the people’s name. Yes, I will be there… but don’t expect any cameras on me… I’m so far in the back that I need a flashlight!
LL: Always fun to speak with you, Congresswoman Torres, democrat from New Jersey’s 16th. I will put in a good word with LION producers and get you on camera!
T: (laughing) Thanks, Luanne. Have a great day!