by Jeffrey A. Rendall
If you’re a Republican consultant and charter member of the DC swamp, what do you tell your clients to say about President Donald Trump these days?
Just when it appeared as though the GOP was emerging from its self-imposed political exile after the push to pass tax relief last December all heck’s breaking lose now as we move towards the end of March. The Republican Congress can’t do anything right – it won’t move on immigration, the budget’s bloated way out of control (thanks in part to continuing to fund Obamacare insurance bailouts), snowflake teenagers are all over TV spouting off about gun control and the media’s in a tizzy over the rumored firing of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Are foreign actors controlling the news narrative? There’s so much chaos…it’s possible.
And then there’s Trump, the Twitter-happy chief executive who (literally) loves pushing buttons – on his phone and on those around him who are easily annoyed.
David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner wrote, “House Republicans were relying heavily on the $1.4 trillion tax overhaul to counteract concerns about the president and revive their 2018 fortunes, burdened with traditional midterm headwinds made exponentially worse by dissatisfaction with Trump’s polarizing leadership.
“But they need Trump’s cooperation to pull it off, and the president appears uninterested.
“He has sidelined the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in favor of tariffs, while unleashing a tweet storm of attacks on Mueller and the Russia probe that amplify personal traits that make him such a liability for Republicans in November.”
After last week’s wake-up call in the Keystone State, there’s some truth to this argument. The GOP’s loss in Pennsylvania’s 18th district made it plainly apparent Trump’s job approval ratings will adversely affect Republican office-seekers this year – but they’re still far from helpless to make a reasonable case for their own candidacies.
In his piece Drucker quoted an unnamed Republican who suggested the party’s hopefuls could ignore whatever Trump is saying at the moment if they’d only pass legislation and send it to his desk for a signature. It just goes to show – there’s at least ONE person in the swamp who gets it!
Trump’s tweets are the shiny objects attracting the media’s negative glare, the flower with pollen to entice wasps. But — purely speculating here – what if every Republican congressman and senator woke up and went to work every day concentrating on a conservative/limited government legislative proposal rather than what the president chooses to emphasize in his overnight tweets?
Trump recognizes that in politics it’s much easier to be against something than for something, hence his positive tweets promoting his agenda get very little comment whereas his recent Twitter barrage against Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller and the deep state earned much angst and scorn from the liberal media and Trump’s enemies within his own party.
It’s not difficult to fathom why Democrats care so much about Mueller continuing his witch hunt – eventually something will turn up the interrogators can chew on – but why are Republicans similarly in such a big hurry to defend the special investigation?
It no doubt has to do with every politician’s innate survival instinct and how bad he or she might look if Trump suddenly offed the Mueller investigation the same way he did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week. Such a bold but justifiable move would force establishment elites to defend Trump — or condemn him – and with midterms coming up no one fancies to do either.
GOP Senators John McCain or Jeff Flake would likely be first to tell reporters about how Trump’s delegitimizing the system and then join with Chuck Schumer in demanding impeachment proceedings from the Republican-controlled House. Neither Arizona senator is ever going to run again (for different reasons) so naturally they feel empowered to say whatever might preserve their “above the fray” legacies for historians to gush about.
Meanwhile, weak-kneed Republican candidates everywhere would put distance between themselves and Trump’s impulses but still stand up for his agenda.
It’d be a mess.
If Mueller were fired Democrats would call for Trump’s head on an impeachment spike but really they’d be glowing inside knowing the president provided them all the ammunition necessary to carry the “Trump’s a criminal who loves Vlad Putin” narrative into the fall campaign.
It almost appears as though all of this nutty hubbub over Mueller is a set-up by both sides. In once again purposely stirring up the hornets via his favorite social media medium Trump knows what the likely consequences will be: his approval ratings will drop a couple points, mental health talk will start up again and establishment Republicans will fret about the party’s chances of holding the House in November’s elections.
Who can blame them? The prospect of Nancy Pelosi clutching the Speaker’s gavel once more is frightening to anyone who cares about the future of this country. The revived Democrat party would then feel justified and sanctioned to do anything it desires to get at Trump in their two year power window – investigations, non-stop media appearances, haughty predictions of doom for America under Trump and who knows, if Rep. Maxine Waters has her say, maybe even a vote for impeachment.
But all might not be as it appears on the surface.
If Democrats controlled the House Trump’s “enemy” would be clearly defined and feature a very identifiable face. From that point on everything that doesn’t get done (with the Democrats in charge of the people’s house) will become embodied by Nancy Pelosi and a host of other Democrats (like Rep. Adam Schiff) who are considered mere pests at present but would significantly increase their stature by running Trump through the media wringer.
Americans haven’t used public pillories and stocks for a couple hundred years and the hanging noose similarly went out long ago, but if such flagrant torture methods were still in use today the Democrats would do everything within their grasp to ensure Trump was cashiered in way that’s memorable and extraordinary.
The country would be one step closer to civil war but the Democrats wouldn’t care.
But such a scenario could also provide a political opening for Trump. Being so severely and unfairly savaged by the Democrats would put him in good shape for his 2020 campaign. Trump could henceforth return to running against the establishment and the Democrats. It might work.
But already there are those naysayers who claim it’s too late, that Trump’s presidency has reached its apex and won’t rise from here on out. Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review, “Now, you may think all of this is great (even though you would probably be the first to say this is no way to run a railroad if your own boss treated your co-workers with half the disdain Trump has shown the people who work for him). And I’m open to arguments that it’s great strategy.
“But don’t in the same breath shout, ‘Fake news!’ when someone you don’t like says that things are chaotic, because not only is it true that things are chaotic, Trump likes the chaos. It keeps him from having to make coherent arguments, it prevents him from being held accountable for the last crazy thing he said or did, and, most of all, it keeps him in the news, which is his true North Star.
“As someone who talks to the Trump White House regularly told me, Trump loves controversy but hates confrontation. That’s why he wants to force Sessions to quit. That’s why he left Reince Priebus on the tarmac like he was the Last American Virgin to discover on his phone that he was fired. That’s why he fired James Comey while the FBI director was giving a speech in California, and it’s why he wanted to fire Rex Tillerson while the secretary of State was in Africa. And, that’s why, when Democrats are in the room, Trump tells them he’d go for comprehensive immigration reform and preens about how he’d like to ‘take the guns first, go through due process second.’”
Listening to Goldberg you’d gather the whole Washington world was on the verge of crashing down. Maybe it is…would anyone miss it?
When seen through the prism of the establishment – which sadly, Goldberg is now part of – there is tremendous “chaos” in the White House due to constantly changing conditions. When the ruling elites don’t know what to expect on any given day it sends chills up their spines knowing they (or their pet causes) might be next on Trump’s chopping block.
Like Goldberg I’ve known people who’ve known someone who’s worked for Trump and they all say the same thing: if you don’t do what the big cheese wants when he wants it done, you’re gone. Fair enough – if you don’t accept those conditions, don’t agree to take the job if offered. Such “power” comes with leadership and the president is accountable for what goes on in his administration. If diplomatic talks broke down with China would Americans blame the secretary of state? No — they’ll look at Trump, and rightly so. He was elected to make decisions.
For years Americans wished the federal government was run more like a business – and for some, when they got it, they griped. For far too long complacent people dominated the executive branch and weren’t fired even when they deserved it. That’s how we’ve gotten ourselves into the mess we’re in today, right?
Trump may or may not be the answer but doing it “his way” is one step better than it’s been done for decades. And there’s still Congress and the federal courts to restrain the executive. If we could give Trump’s critics one piece of advice: calm down. Take a pill. Breathe into a paper bag.
Besides, who’d be better to run the show these days? Crooked Hillary? Bernie Sanders? America’s teens? Juan Williams wrote at The Hill, “Next month will mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado that left 15 people dead. Since then, the nation has endured the tragedy of mass shootings at Virginia Tech; in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut; and now Parkland.
“I have covered the politics of guns in Washington, from the support for gun control after the shooting of White House Press Secretary James Brady to the rise of the NRA as a lobbying powerhouse. The NRA still has deep pockets but they are no longer the loudest voices in the conversation.
“Please, students, save us from this gun mania.”
Maybe since #NeverTrumpers like Goldberg and liberals like Williams think Trump is such a chaotic unstable nut that we should turn the country over to our teenagers. If the kids know best on guns they certainly must appreciate the true path on other issues too, right?
Given the choice most of them would demand open borders, tax the wealthy into oblivion and legalize drugs too. It’s what happens when you’re young – or old and (still) a liberal – you believe you’ll live forever and government exists to help people. Then most of us grow up and discover otherwise.
The governmental status quo is being liquidated under President Trump and the establishment elites (and their supporters — liberals, teens, #NeverTrumpers) hate it. The days and months ahead will be unsteady for all concerned – and some of us wouldn’t have it any other way.