Thursday, June 08, 2017

When Will More Congressional Republicans Start Abandoning Trumpy-The-Clown?


I should know better-- I do know better-- but yesterday I told a friend that Dan Alexander's Forbes story about Trump and his contemptible family of grifters stealing charitable contributions meant for children with cancer would be the last straw, even for Republicans. But, of course, there is no last straw for Republicans... short of them losing their own careers. And that, apparently, is going to have to wait until the 2018 midterms. Montanans could have put a break on Trump's headlong plunge-- America in town-- into the abyss. But they chose the body slammer instead. That's how it goes-- a bridge too far... although, where Trump won Montana with 274,120 votes (56.5%) against Hillary's 174,521 (36.0%), Gianforte only beat Quist 189,473 (50.2%) to 166,483 (44.1%). Good progress, but it would have taken a Quist win to make the point. Maybe in 2 weeks in GA-06...

Maybe what, though? Jonathan Chait, writing for New York Magazine asserted yesterday that Republicans won't impeach Trump no matter how many high crimes he commits. OK, that's probably true, but-- maybe more important-- more and more are abandoning his Regime and his tattered incoherent legislative agenda politically. And, of course, Chait was sadly correct to point out that "Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, or even before, Democrats have been waiting for the moment when the Republican Party’s indulgence would snap... To imagine Republicans might turn on Trump over the Russia scandal to the point of deposing him from office is to misunderstand how they have been thinking about Trump and the presidency all along."
[T]he only Republicans who have criticized Trump for his corruption and abuse of power are the ones who have opposed him from the beginning-- mostly intellectuals and pundits who do not work in Republican politics or conservative media. When more loyal Republicans have criticized the president, they have aimed more indirectly at his communication style and disorganization.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial created a sensation for scolding Trump, after having largely carried water on his behalf. It seemed on the surface to indicate a fissure between the party Establishment and the president. But the actual substance of the complaint focused narrowly on Trump’s self-defeating communications strategy. “Mr. Trump popping off,” complains the Journal, is “undermin[ing] his own lawyers.” For instance, the editorial notes, “The White House spent days explaining that the President fired James Comey on the counsel of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, only for Mr. Trump to tell an interviewer that he planned to dismiss the FBI director in any case.”

The Journal’s editors do not mention that they too gamely toed the initial, obviously absurd Trump party line that the administration only fired Comey at Rod Rosenstein’s behest. While they obviously feel humiliated, the Journal’s editors aren’t complaining about Trump firing the FBI director for investigating him, or even that he Trump lied about it. The complaint is that he stopped lying about it and made the people who endorsed his lie look silly.

While it may seem puzzling to liberals, this kind of behavior is consistent with the method of the conservative movement. The conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party began in the 1960s and took decades to complete. Conservatives still have not lost their sense of being an insurgent movement that might at any moment be betrayed by the party Establishment. Conservatives think of their role as quasi-independent, but they also imagine it as focusing exclusively on enforcing fealty to their doctrine by politicians who might otherwise be inclined to wander. The scenario they are built to fight against is the Republican president who colludes with Democrats, not one who colludes with foreign dictators. If the president is fighting against the opposition party, they assume he is acting correctly. Conservative organs like National Review originally viewed Richard Nixon with hostility, and-- perverse as it may sound-- came to his defense because of Watergate.

Many conservatives opposed Trump during the primaries because they suspected, with good reason, that his conservatism was shallow or insincere. They worried that, once elected, Trump would abandon their priorities and pursue the most expedient course.

But Trump has not done that at all. The policies or talking points Trump has abandoned are the centrist ones: He would protect Medicaid from cuts, give everybody terrific coverage, hammer the big banks, spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, and cut deals with both parties. This week, Trump formally abandoned the last possible area of ideological compromise in infrastructure, “clarifying” that his plan relies on private industry, states, or cities ponying up the money. Trump’s budget actually cuts federal investments in infrastructure. He has positioned himself to the right of even House Republicans on domestic spending, and continues to push for their grossly unpopular plan to cut a trillion dollars from Obamacare. “The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative-- one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries-- is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true,” points out the popular conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager.

Trump is faithfully supporting the conservative agenda, so most conservatives faithfully support him. Their concerns are pragmatic ones about his effectiveness on behalf of their common agenda, rather than moral objections to the legitimacy and propriety of his actions. Trump may have committed impeachable offenses, but the impeachment clock has not even begun to move.
The Democrats need a net gain of two dozen seats to flip the House blue and kick Paul Ryan out of the speaker's chair-- if he even manages to win reelection himself. If there was no DCCC-- or if it were a competently functioning organization-- the Democrats should be able to win as many as 60 seats in 2018 and another 25 in tougher districts in 2020 where it will take 2 cycles. But, because of endemic DCCC incompetence, grotesquely failed leadership and horrifying personal corruption, the Democrats won't win 60 seats in 2018 and will be lucky to win the House back at all and lucky to win even 30 seats in total by 2020. They're so incompetent and lazy they don't even deserve to win, even if so many dedicated grassroots candidates are working like dogs and do deserve to win.

A picture John Faso may come to regret
Several House GOP incumbents are noticing the problem and even if they're not jumping up and down about impeaching Trump, they're looking to distance themselves from him. Carlos Curbelo is a perfect example. His south Florida district is 70% Latino, voted 50-49% for Obama over McCain, 53-46% Obama over Romney and then went for Hillary over Trump by a startling 57-41%. Curbelo's in trouble and he knows he has to be seen by the voters of his district to be standing up to Trump. He started the congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, which he co-chairs, publicly disagreed with Trump on his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and told the media that "With forty percent of Florida’s population at risk from sea-level rise, my state is on the front lines of climate change. South Florida residents are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change in their daily lives-- from chronic flooding to coral bleaching to threats to our freshwater supply in the Everglades. We cannot ignore these challenges and every Member of Congress has a responsibility to our constituents and future generations to support market-based solutions, investments, and innovations that could alleviate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient."

As the midterm elections get closer, there will be more and more House Republicans doing cost/benefit analyses as to whether it pays to stick with Trump or break with him, not just rhetorically but in terms of his legislative agenda. Trump is making it harder and harder-- impossible?-- to Republicans in swing districts to back him. In the next few months it's not just going to be Republicans like Curbelo in blue and purple districts abandoning Trump, but even Republicans in pretty red districts-- like Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Vern Buchanan (FL), Rob Wittman (VA), Steve Chabot (OH), Mark Amodei (NV), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Ed Royce (CA), Peter Roskam (IL), David Joyce (OH), Tom Reed (NY) and Michael Turner (OH)-- looking for opportunities to distance themselves from Trump and his policies. The DCCC should be putting immense pressure on these people by running strong candidates against them; they aren't.

Brian Beutler asks a good question at Mother Jones. Answer: "Yep!"

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At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When? never. wanna know why?? Because of exactly the reasons you've outlined.

He has betrayed all his "stuff that would help people" from the campaign (yoooooge surprise) and has outflanked even the teabaggers to the right on all the stuff that will impoverish and kill people.
Treason? Meh! Nixon and Reagan committed worse treasons and the democrat admins at those times did not do dick. Why would Rs do dick about this one?

I'd wager that by next summer, when the campaigns are spending real money to smear each other, the Rs will be looking at picking up more seats rather than losing any at all. The DxCCs and DNC, as you yourself have admonished, are corrupt and feckless (and intentionally inept at getting progressives elected)... and the Rs KNOW THIS better than anyone.

When the Rs are in their darkest days, they always can comfort themselves that their opponents are nancy fucking Pelosi and chuck fucking scummer and their respective staffs of keystone cops and stooges.

And they will always have 60 million + of the dumbest most fundamentally damaged and evil motherfuckers who always show up to vote for them.

It would truly be a second american revolution if any of this ever changed.

At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is only one way Trump would lose Republicans' support and cause them to turn against him. Trump would have to swindle billions from the wealthiest GOP donors - and not share a penny of it with any other Republicans. Only then would they act to take him down.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

quit using that picture of Eric Clapton to pimp for the drumpfsterfire.

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm sorry to suggest that Eric Clapton works in a way. He's a known supporter of racist UK politicians despite making his fortune off Black music.

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous brainman53 said...

There is really not much difference, aside from a few social issues that about which industry doesn't care enough to buy) between the Democraps and the Repugnicans. The Dems are now merely the left wing of the Republican Party.


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