Longest Shutdown Ever, National Emergency(?), Leaving Syria

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Mike and Will open with a continued discussion of the government shutdown. With employees now not receiving pay for the first time, it feels as if it has reached a new level of seriousness. Neither Mike nor Will see an easy path to the shutdown coming to a close, although they do agree with the premise of Rob Portman’s proposed legislation to prevent future shutdowns.

Then they turn to a more detailed discussion of Trump’s first Oval Office address. Discussion focuses on both the idea of the address and its overall substance—including considering the pros and cons of building a wall. While neither are entirely convinced the address deserved national play, Will believes it was one of Trump’s better addresses while Mike still questions Trump’s use of facts—especially when speaking off-the-cuff and in campaign mode. Both agree that there isn’t an inherent media bias in allowing Trump to make this address while not airing Obama’s 2014 immigration address. Will believes part of the decision related to timing and Trump’s lack of previous Oval Office addresses while Mike adds that the uncertainty surrounding what Trump might say is good for viewership.

From an effectiveness perspective, both Mike and Will raise doubt on whether a full border wall will have the desired impact. Mike believes stronger border control through agents or electronic monitoring would do just as much good while Will believes the symbolism of a wall is as important as its function. Will does argue that criminal activity by individuals who come across the border with the sole intent of immediately returning to Mexico could be thwarted by a physical wall.

Finally, they turn to Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. Beyond just examining the possible impact of withdrawal, they discuss the reasons for a slow withdrawal, why the United States was ever interested in Syria to begin, and the future of our relationship with Turkey. Mike argues that a rushed withdrawal could lead to long-term issues in the already complex region while Will worries about whether Turkey can actually be trusted to execute at this time.

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