“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly/ “‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy/ The way into my parlour is up a winding stair/ And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.” “Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain: For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

Oh, that Democratic congressional leaders heed the well-founded fears of the Fly and respectfully decline President Trump’s invitation to the White House for a so-called briefing on border security. The lesson of the Fly is instructive. Despite the Fly’s complete understanding of what can happen if it responds to the Spider’s invitation, it couldn’t resist the Spider’s gentle flattery and smooth talk and entered anyway — only to get taken down by the Spider.

Trump has asked Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Charles E. Schumer (New York), along with their Republican House and Senate counterparts, to assemble at his place of residence to hear officials from the Department of Homeland Security tell them something they may not, but should, know about border security.

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Even a dumb fly would know better.

Trump’s aim is to pull Democrats into a session in which they sit like potted plants — surrounded by reporters and TV cameras from around the world — and listen to Trump’s acolytes lay out the case for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, of course with commentary from him about how their impasse over the budget has led a government shutdown and continued U.S. vulnerability to the invasion of undocumented immigrants from south of the border. Also, how his $5 billion in border money will reopen the government, put paychecks in the hands of unpaid federal workers, and shield America from all the ills that Satan might unleash upon the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Of course, the White House show is designed to portray Trump as the patriotic protector of America, making his case on television that recalcitrant Democrats are throwing national security aside and trying to make Trump, the Apolitical Innocent, look bad.

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The way the Democratic leaders should respond to the invitation is simple: Thank Trump for the offer and schedule a time on Capitol Hill when the Homeland Security folks can come up and share knowledge about the border situation that Congress has the right, and the willingness, to know.

Trump, however, need not come along for the ride, since his Twittered views are there on the record for all who read.

But go to the White House as a captive audience for his political gamesmanship?

Remember the poem:

“And now dear little children, who may this story read/ To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed/ Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye/ And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.”

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