Booking a political figure in advance is a bet both safe and unpredictable for a late-night host these days. Even if, for example, the original issues Stephen Colbert wanted to talk to Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer about last week got steamrollered by whatever hateful, ludicrous, dangerously unstable, racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise nonsensical things were expelled from the Trump administration in the meantime, well, there’s never a shortage of things to talk about. On Monday’s Martin Luther King Day episode of The Late Show, Colbert noted that, indeed, “what the historians will call ‘Shithole Gate’” has vaulted to the top of the list of things to address, asking the senator plainly if Donald Trump’s recent comments denigrating immigrants from majority non-white countries indicate that the president of the United States is a racist.
Schumer, while employing the resigned, sentence-starting “Look,” that traditionally precedes the statements of sensible people when discussing Donald Trump, was equally blunt in saying that, yeah, Trump’s long history of “racist” and “obnoxious” statements is sufficient proof for anyone (not on either Trump or Fox News’ payroll, that is) to conclude that he is. Sticking up for Democratic colleague Senator Dick Durbin—who initially reported Trump’s “shithole” bullshit—as “one of the most honorable people I’ve met,” Schumer asserted that he believes Durbin, “and that most Americans do, too.” As for Trump and his Republican enablers’ damage control in the wake of this latest bout of unimaginatively gross public bigotry, Schumer said one way that Trump (who, once again called himself “the least racist person” with a straight face this week) can prove what a big, not-racist boy he is is by approving the DACA immigration deal a bipartisan committee has already worked out. Claiming that compromise has been reached on several contentious immigration issues, Schumer stated that, if the policy—which affects hundreds of thousands—isn’t resolved, it will be due to “Donald Trump and his intransigence.” (And, it’s implied, his aforementioned racism.)
As to that compromise, Schumer, who came out to a funky version of the anthemic “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” performed by Colbert’s house band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, was, perhaps, less forcefully rallying than those continually appalled by the Trump administration would have him be. Calling himself and the rest of the Democratic Party “a check against Donald Trump” drew the question from Colbert if that alone is enough to ensure that the Democrats can take back the Senate and House from Republicans in 2018. “We’re working real hard on it,” said Schumer circumspectly, adding that, in his estimation, “the odds are greater than half.” So that’s... good. Schumer—who chuckled along at a clip of his cartoon self negotiating with a blusteringly dim Trump from Colbert’s upcoming Showtime series Our Animated President—was more emphatic about the fact that Donald Trump, despite his incessant protestations, is, in fact a truly terrible negotiator. Which, one can only hope, means that DACA can still be saved, regardless of whatever dribbles out of Trump’s, um, face-hole next.