Commentary: By Flirting with the Democrats Is Trump Just Trying to Make GOP Leaders Envious?

Tennessee Star

by Jeffrey A. Rendall

It’s often said folks learn a lot more from their failures than from their successes; if that’s the case then congressional Republicans should be virtual Rhodes Scholars by now.

Judging by the degree of hysteria emanating from party members last week after Democrat leaders announced the consummation of an immigration deal with President Donald Trump that purportedly grants blanket amnesty to DACA recipients and does not include money for Trump’s long-promised border wall, the GOP was in full panic mode over the possibility of their leader turning full-Benedict Arnold and deciding there may be greener legislative pastures with the liberal environmentalist extremists in the Democrat camp.

Ever-sharp-tongued conservative boat-rocker Ann Coulter tweeted and re-tweeted images of things like pets now hating Trump and people burning their “Make America Great Again” hats. Coulter even claimed we now have Hillary Clinton as president.

Other conservatives and Republicans practically stepped on each other in their rush to abandon the Trump ship. Eight months into the Trump presidency it almost looked like a lot of former hopefuls are now giving up, reaching for the chloroform and preparing to leave this world.

Kyle Cheney and Ted Hesson of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump’s apparent deal with Democrats to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation — without demanding funding for a border wall — is dividing some of his most ardent conservative backers.

“Breitbart News called the president ‘Amnesty Don.’ Commentator Ann Coulter mused about impeaching Trump. And hard-line immigration hawks in Congress like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called the contours of the deal an ‘irreparable’ betrayal of Trump’s base.

“’Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair,’ King tweeted. ‘No promise is credible.’”

The Politico writers also indicated there were other conservatives (including Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows) who are more open to the notion of Trump moving on immigration as long as border security measures were included in the deal. It’s clear from reading their comments that opinions diverge widely on the subject and it will be difficult to say the least to forge some sort of consensus on how to proceed.

In essence, Trump took the stubborn immovable congressional donkey and applied a good hard kick to its hindquarters to prompt lawmakers to head in a forward direction. And there’s nothing like breaking bread with the leadership of the other side to jolt your friends into reality.

While Trump is certainly providing nearly everyone with good cause for alarm it’s not quite time for us proud “deplorables” to head to the hills to barricade ourselves in a cave behind our guns and religion to await the political apocalypse. A little perspective is called for.

Upon further examination of last week’s events, Trump may not yet be turning traitor and joining up with his adversaries. The more likely motivation for his rubbing elbows with the Democrats is to teach Republican leaders a lesson by professing a desire to work with the minority party when all he really wants is something to sign from the Republicans.

Twitter doesn’t even seem to prod the GOP leaders anymore. Whereas just a few weeks ago Trump was tweeting out his unhappiness with Mitch McConnell’s job performance, the president has apparently decided to try a different tack now.

In the old days if a guy liked a girl he would sometimes try to get her attention by pretending to notice someone else so as to trigger the ‘ol jealousy reflex in her. While it’s a bit juvenile to suggest Trump is only flirting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to make Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell envious, there’s little doubt he’s failed to earn their full attention and focus by more conventional means.

And besides, in regards to immigration, nothing’s yet been inked, no policy has been set and no details released. All we have at current are conflicting stories about what was actually agreed to, supplied mostly by people (Schumer and Pelosi) who are notorious for bending the truth or outright lying.

In their article the Politico writers indicated most conservatives are open to negotiations. “Throughout the week, conservative lawmakers identified some immigration enforcement measures they might support. In many cases, they said they’d at least consider bundling DACA protections with a broader immigration package — one that might include reforms to visa programs, an e-Verify system for employers and restrictions on access to benefits programs for undocumented immigrants.”

In other words, there is support for a “comprehensive” immigration bill that includes the whole shebang of conservative proposals – the border wall, restrictions on newcomers and a verification system to solve the internal hiring problem. By all appearances it’s a far cry from the disastrous Gang of 8 scheme from 2013 that Senator Marco Rubio and Schumer tried to pass off as “reform” but was really just full-on open borders amnesty.

The immigration issue likely killed Rubio’s presidential prospects in the 2016 GOP primaries. Conservatives knew he couldn’t be trusted on the issue and hence gravitated towards the “outsider” non-politician who seemed to understand the seriousness of the crisis. It should be noted Trump has not actually promised to deport DACA recipients – just the opposite. He’s consistently expressed sympathy for their situations and said he would push Congress to resolve the issue.

And that’s basically what he’s done.

If Republicans want Trump to quit the budding romance with the Democrats they should cooperate with each other on conservative issues in general and give him some legislative successes to own.

The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote, “[The GOP caucus must] reward Trump’s efforts by producing legislative accomplishments for which he can take at least partial credit. Republicans must start acting like a functional party and engage in the politically messy task of making laws through the committee process. If they can manage this and put imperfect but better-than-nothing legislation on Trump’s desk, they will at least stop giving him reasons to do deals with the Democrats.

“Absent an Obamacare replacement bill from the GOP, Trump will have no problem cutting a deal with Democrats to further expand Medicare or Medicaid. If Republicans don’t get a tax reform to Trump’s desk, Trump will cut a tax deal with Democrats that includes plenty of tax hikes. The man isn’t a conservative, and so he has no problem signing big-government bills into law.”

Well put – and likely true. Much has been written about the lack of ideology and partisan leanings in Trump’s background; he’s shown time and again he’ll gravitate towards those who are most likely to give him what he desires on a deal and isn’t afraid to give his bargaining opponents “half a loaf” as long as he gets what he seeks in return.

With majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans are still in the best position to move on the party’s agenda. The “wild card” Trump may hold out occasionally for things he personally believes in – like a solution to the DACA problem – but for the most part Trump’s conveyed a willingness to go along with whatever congressional Republicans come up with.

Put another way, Trump’s lack of ideology can have its benefits, too. The president wants to “win,” not call all the plays. In other words, Republicans still hold the power if they’d only use it.

Trump also knows in his heart that he won’t leave a lasting presidential legacy by depending on the Democrats to pass his most important agenda items. Patrick J. Buchanan wrote in The American Conservative, “Trump’s capitulation, if that is what turns out to be, calls to mind George H. W. Bush’s decision in 1990 to raise the Reagan tax rates in a deal engineered for him by a White House-Hill coalition, that made a mockery of his ‘Read my lips! No new taxes!’ pledge of 1988.

“For agreeing to feed the beast of Big Government, rather than cut its rations as Reagan sought to do, Bush was called a statesman. By the fall of ’92, the cheering had stopped.

“Can Trump not know that those congratulating him for his newfound flexibility will be rejoicing, should Bob Mueller indict his family and his friends, and recommend his impeachment down the road?”

Of course he realizes it. Trump knows where his political bread is buttered and it ain’t with the people who sympathize with Eric Holder, Crooked Hillary and the Antifa thugs. These are the same ones who were calling him a racist just a few weeks ago and have repeatedly questioned his personal motivations and love of country.

And they’ve also branded him an illegitimate president. Will all of their harsh critiques permanently cease now that Trump invited Democrats to dinner at the White House and agreed in principle with them on one issue?

The days and weeks ahead will reveal more of what President Trump really thinks about immigration. For now conservatives should be confident that the consummate deal-maker has not yet revealed all of his cards. Above all Trump wants to keep his promises; perhaps he needs a little leeway to do just that.


Reprinted with Permission from



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3 Thoughts to “Commentary: By Flirting with the Democrats Is Trump Just Trying to Make GOP Leaders Envious?”

  1. Stuart I. Anderson

    Another possibility is that Trump is a huckster with few real convictions who simply wants to “win” and be loved. Like all hucksters he told his targets what they wanted to hear and now he surrounds himself with liberal New Yorkers to go along with the liberal Democrats in his own family. As a result, we desperately need to send conservatives to congress to compensate for our failure to nominate a conservative Republican for President.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Stuart – I cannot disagree with your hypothesis concerning President Trump. You are absolutely correct that the burden is on you and me and other conservatives to elect real conservatives to Congress. We can start in 2018 by ousting Bob Corker if he chooses to run for re-election.

  2. 83ragtop50

    I am concerned that President Trump’s desire (need?) to always win by making a deal will lead to a severe watering down – if not totally abandoning – of the campaign commits that led to his election. There are times when gridlock is better than the agreed upon alternative. I find it difficult to believe that his dalliance with the hard left congressional leaders will improve his chances of moving his agenda forward.