Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Republican Party's 2018 Albatross: Donald J. Trump


Like Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is retiring from Congress. Easy enough for them to warn the country about the unmitigated disaster unfolding in real time in the Oval Office. Republicans running in 2018 are too scared to. Dent spoke with Katie Tur on MSNBC Monday: "We’ve had a lot of these 'the emperor has no clothes' moments and I’m glad that Sen. Corker has brought voice to this. We are concerned. My colleagues, my Republican colleagues in the House, I know, and Senate, are concerned by much of the dysfunction and disorder and chaos at the White House... We have these conversations all the time and we have to do better and I think more of my colleagues should speak up. They say things privately, they don’t say publicly. I said it publicly before I announced I wasn’t running."

Tuesday morning Greg Sargent pointed out that Corker's critique "opens the door to a whole new round of press scrutiny of the GOP’s ongoing enabling of Trump. Corker confirmed that most Senate Republicans view Trump as, well, dangerous and crazy" in his NY Times interview that sent Trump into orbit yesterday.
Corker declined to answer when asked if he believes Trump is unfit for the presidency. But the only reasonable way to read all these comments is as a declaration that Trump is indeed unfit-- and that most Republicans know it. After all, Corker had previously said that Trump’s inner circle is helping to “separate our country from chaos.” Now he has added that Trump needs to be restrained by his inner circle from devolving into conduct that could end up unleashing untold global destruction-- and that most Republicans know it.

Corker is getting a lot of press plaudits for his unvarnished appraisal. But as James Fallows writes, there is a good deal that Corker can actually do right now if he wants to mitigate the threat that he himself says Trump poses. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has a range of powers that could help constrain Trump, including the power to hold public hearings to draw public attention to the ways in which Trump’s temperament threatens untold damage. At a minimum, Corker can be asked whether he intends to do these things, and if not, why not.

But whatever Corker says and does now, his new comments should precipitate a fundamental change in the way the press treats the ongoing GOP enabling of Trump. Corker has forced out into the open the fact that Republicans recognize the sheer abnormality and danger to the country of the situation we’re in, which opens the door for much tougher media questioning of them about their awareness of-- and acquiescence to-- this state of affairs.

This can start with a simple query: Do Republicans agree with Corker that Trump regularly needs to be constrained by his top advisers from engaging in conduct that threatens severe damage to the country and the world? If so, what are Republicans prepared to do about it?

In August, Jane Chong and Benjamin Wittes offered a useful set of guidelines for thinking about Trump’s misconduct. They divided it into three categories. First, there are his “abuses of power,” such as the nonstop self-dealing, the pardoning of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the firing of his FBI director. Second, there are his “failures of moral leadership,” which constitute a general degradation of his office via, among other things, his unprecedented, serial lying and efforts to destroy the institutional legitimacy of the free press. To this second category we can add Trump’s refusal to unequivocally condemn the Charlottesville white supremacists and the White House’s use of taxpayer funds to stage a weekend stunt in which Vice President Pence walked out of a football game, which are both part of a broader effort to continue stoking divisions.

Third, there is the “abandonment of the basic duties of his office,” which includes the failure to make appointments and (I would add) the deep rot of bad faith that has infested the White House’s approach to policy: He indicated he’d sign anything at all that would let him boast of destroying Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment. I would suggest a fourth category of misconduct: Trump’s sheer megalomaniacal indifference to the fundamental notion that his office confers on him any obligation to the public of any kind. This overlaps with the conduct discussed above and also includes the refusal to release his tax returns and his ongoing sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, which could harm millions.

As Chong and Wittes note, what’s challenging is to determine what sort of level of degradation of our institutions, political system and norms of political conduct all of this misconduct adds up to when taken together. We do know that congressional Republicans continue to enable many of these strands in isolation, and they continue to airbrush away the significance of misconduct that is glaring enough to require their condemnation, usually by making some variation of the claim that Trump is learning on the job. But Corker has now asserted that Republicans know Trump’s presidency constitutes an ongoing, abnormal, multifaceted danger to the country. This should intensify media scrutiny of this series of dodges, evasions and enabling exercises, and make it harder for Republicans to get away with them.
Meanwhile, at the same time, The Post's fact-checker squad pointed out that Señor Trumpanzee has made 1,318 false or misleading claims in the last 263 days. The man is a congenital liar and it's almost impossible to keep up with all the lies, big and small. That's why the Washington Post has a whole team working on it. "When you track Trump’s claims so closely," they wrote, "it can often feel like deja vu. Trump has a tendency to repeat himself, and that includes his false or misleading claims... With almost exactly 100 days left to go in our year-long project, Trump is inching ever closer to breaking 2,000 claims."

Very much related was the poll Morning Consult released yesterday showing Trump's approval rating decreasing in every single state. He's even losing ground in Wyoming (down 3 points), Kentucky (down 6 points), Oklahoma (down 5 points), Montana (down 7 points), Arkansas (down 5 points), Kansas (down 6 points), Mississippi (down 6 points). And in states where voters already hate him he fell even more. He's down 10 points in Vermont, down 11 points in Connecticut and Delaware, down 12 points in his native New York. On top of that, right before the crucial Virginia general election, his approval is down over 6 points. Worse yet, his disapprove ratings in Virginia have gone from 40.6% to 52.9% since he took office.

And in the crucial battleground states for the 2018 midterms-- Trump is shaping up to be an anchor for Republican candidates, down. Take a district like OK-05 (Oklahoma City), already the least Trump friendly district in very red Oklahoma-- the only race where he won less than 60% of the vote. (He beat Hillary there last year 53.2% to 39.8%.) When he took office his statewide disapprove was an innocuous 27.20%. Since then it's climbed over 10 points to 38.9%. That's statewide. Imagine what it must be in Oklahoma City. In fact, on primary day Trump came in third in Oklahoma County with just 22,117 votes (25%) while Rubio and Cruz both bested him. But you know who else bested him on that day in that county? Bernie won 32,368 votes, more than Trump, more than Cruz and more than Rubio. The OK-05 Dems are running a dedicated Berniecrat next year, Tom Guild.

His net approval in Iowa is minus 11%. In Minnesota it's minus 17%, Wisconsin's is minus 12%, minus 15% in Michigan, minus 21% in Illinois, minus 6% in Pennsylvania... all states with key, key House and/or Senate races next year. A minus 19% net approval isn't going to help Leonard Lance or Rodney Frelinghuysen or Christopher Smith in New Jersey and a minus 22 net approval certainly wont do any good for Trump rubber-stamps like Mimi Walters, Darrell Issa, Devin Nunes, Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Duncan Hunter, Jeff Denham, Steve Knight and David Valadao in California.
Trump has failed to improve his standing among the public anywhere-- including the states he won handily as the Republican nominee during the 2016 presidential election, according to the survey, which was based on interviews of 472,032 registered voters across each state and Washington, D.C., from Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration to Sept. 26.

The negative swings in net approval ranged from as high as 30 percentage points in solidly blue Illinois and New York to as low as 11 points in red Louisiana. But in many of the states Trump easily carried last year-- such as Tennessee (-23 points), Mississippi (-21 percentage points), Kentucky (-20 points), Kansas (-19 points) and Indiana (-17 points)-- voters have soured on the president in 2017.

...Perhaps more concerning for Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill ahead of the 2018 midterms-- which typically serve as referendums on the presidency-- is a growing enthusiasm gap among GOP voters and dissenting partisans.

From January to September, the share of Republicans who strongly approve of Trump declined by 10 points, from 53 percent to 43 percent. Meanwhile, the intensity of disapproval among Democrats and independents has risen. Seventy-one percent of Democrats said they strongly disapproved of Trump in September, up 16 points from January, and among independents, there was an 11-point bump in strong disapproval, from 26 percent to 37 percent.

Those figures may encourage the Democratic Party, which is hoping to harness that energy-- and a lack thereof for Washington’s ruling party-- to ride a wave similar to the one that gave Republicans control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

Nonpartisan political handicapper and former Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg said in a Sept. 25 interview that while the growing enthusiasm gap doesn’t guarantee a wave election, “the potential drop-off in Republican turnout, along with independents behaving like Democrats in the midterm elections, create a significant risk.”

...The more immediate problem for Trump, according to Rothenberg, is that his declining numbers will reduce his influence with Republicans on Capitol Hill, whom he’ll need to help secure legislative victories.

“He wants to have clout, and to the extent that he is deemed to be a drag-- an albatross-- on Republicans running around the country, it just lessens his influence on the Hill,” he said.

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At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever corker et al are saying is pointless, just as what the democraps have SAID over the past 3-4 decades is pointless.

What matters is what they fucking **DO** (and, naturally, what they refuse to do). And if these pussies don't actually DO anything about their pantload in chief...
If they truly know that this dotard is a real danger, then they should have already DONE something (impeachment). They have not and are not going to.
This just proves that they put party (and all the gravy that implies) above their country and the (little) people who also sadly live in it.

Fuck them all.

At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, I am still convinced that the Democorrupt Party will find ways to ensure that no republican loses their races.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the democraps cannot afford to win a chamber. They would then have to justify their majority to voters who will still not like their party's service to corporations and the rich.

The democraps have found that they can fool a third of the voters many times. But the next time MAY be one time too many. Some of those fucktards do know this.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not an albatross. He's the buffalo pie in the punchbowl.


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