Monday, July 10, 2017

Will The Vengeful Asshole In The White House Jeopardize GOP Chances To Hold Congress?


Virtually all recent polling shows that growing majorities of Americans view Trump's personal characteristics-- like integrity, honesty, intelligence, etc-- in negative lights. The last to go was the question about Trump as a strong leader. That would took the longest time to start slipping. But, finally, the polls are starting to show that people are distinguishing between a bully and a leader-- or at least realizing that bullies are weak, not strong.

In this morning's Politico Alex Isenstadt delves into one of Trump's most infamous, pervasive and least admired characteristics-- his penchant for mindless revenge-- that is part of how people see him on the strength/weakness scale. He wrote that Señor Trumpanzee "is less than six months into his presidency, yet one of the organizing principles of his political operation is already becoming clear: Payback." Do you see that as strength or as weakness? Ask 2018 vulnerable Republican senators Jeff Flake or Dean Heller. Ask Mika Brzezinski or CNN. His modus operandi is primitive and pure Mafioso. Some people-- more likely Republicans-- see this kind of behavior as "strength." Normal people don't.
In private, Trump has spoken of spending $10 million out of his own pocket to defeat an incumbent senator of his own party, Jeff Flake of Arizona, according to two sources familiar with the conversation last fall. More recently, the president celebrated the attacks orchestrated by a White House-sanctioned outside group against another Republican senator, Dean Heller of Nevada, who has also been openly critical of him.

Fear of Trump reprisals has led one Republican congresswoman, Martha Roby of Alabama, to launch an intense campaign to win over a president who remembers every political slight-- and especially those who abandoned him following the October release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women.

At the time, Roby called Trump “unacceptable” and said she wouldn’t vote for him. But the president, who is popular in Alabama, ended up carrying her district by wide margin. And since the inauguration, she has gone to the White House four times to attend Trump-hosted events and on two other occasions to meet with his daughter, Ivanka. During the Rose Garden celebration following the House’s passage of the health care bill, the four-term congresswoman offered the president a personal compliment while shaking his hand: “Good job,” she told him, according to a source close to Roby who was briefed on the exchange.

White House officials have taken notice of Roby’s efforts to make amends and view her efforts with some skepticism. While in the Oval Office for a NASA bill signing in March, Roby sidled up next to Trump-- putting her front-and-center for the photo-op. Behind her push for the president’s approval is a stark political reality: She is facing a fierce primary challenge from a Trump stalwart who has turned her past opposition to the president into the focal point of his campaign.

The backstage machinations provide a glimpse into Trump’s approach to politics and how it is shaping the 2018 midterm election landscape. Trump’s obsession with loyalty and penchant for keeping close track of personal slights-- both well-documented by his biographers and in coverage of his presidency-- colors his approach not only toward his political foes but toward his own party’s candidates, even at the risk of jeopardizing GOP incumbents.

“The president once told me that the most important lesson he learned from Roy Cohn was loyalty,” said Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend and the chief executive of the conservative website Newsmax, referring to the ruthless New York fixer and attorney who mentored the president early in his real estate career. “He believes in that strongly in all his friendships.”

White House spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Even before the 2016 campaign was over, Trump began talking about how as president he would strike back at the members of his party who wronged him, according to a senior campaign aide. Administration officials have been struck by his ability to recall what Republicans said about him before his victory, especially those who criticized him following the release of the Access Hollywood tape-- a decisive moment that crystallized for the then-GOP nominee who his true friends were. Even today, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, according to one administration official, is routinely reminded that he told Trump to quit the race.

Two different White House aides say the president now relishes that some of those who crossed him, like Roby, are scrambling to get in his good graces.

They have good cause for worry. Just days before taking the oath of office, Trump mounted a successful effort to oust a fierce intra-party critic, Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges. The president has also fumed about Flake, who called on Trump to drop out after the Access Hollywood footage surfaced. Backstage before an Arizona election rally last fall, Trump spoke animatedly about his desire to find a primary challenger to the senator-- at one point saying that he would put $10 million toward the anti-Flake effort.

Flake has already drawn a pro-Trump opponent, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and two other allies of the president, Trump campaign COO Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chair Robert Graham, are considering bids. DeWit remains close with the administration and was at the White House last month to attend meetings.

Heller, who announced months before the election that he didn’t intend to support Trump, is also out of favor with the president. The Nevada Republican recently came under attack from a pro-Trump outside group over his refusal to support the Obamacare repeal bill-- a move that rankled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who viewed it as an unnecessary effort to undercut one of his most politically vulnerable members.

Yet Trump has told friends that he loved the anti-Heller blitz, convinced that the senator was trying to use his opposition to the bill for his political gain and that a show of force was needed, said two people familiar with the discussions. When it comes to Flake and Heller, the disdain is personal-- three sources familiar with the president's thinking said Trump believes the senators are determined to undermine him.

...“While the president has never been a ‘turn the other cheek’ kind of guy, I believe that he is aware that he has a better chance of pressuring establishment Republicans into his congressional majority to get anything done then he does liberal Democrats,” said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump friend and informal political adviser. “A purge of the party establishment, while it would be delicious, is not on the agenda-- unless of course the president became convinced they willfully inspired to delay or defeat his programs.”

That may be the case with Martha Roby, who has decided her best play is to win over the president she once lambasted. The effort began the night of his election, when she hammered out a 3 a.m. tweet congratulating him. “I'm eager to get to work,” she wrote.

The move, her detractors insist, is a cynical one. Roby’s primary opponent, state Rep. Barry Moore, notes that he was the first elected official in Alabama to endorse Trump and that he attended the August 2015 rally in Mobile that catapulted Trump’s national bid. The president has become the centerpiece of Moore’s campaign: On the personal biography page of his campaign website, Moore mentions Trump’s name no fewer than eight times.

“He knows I was there when the times were tough, and long before he had the nomination,” he said. “I was there for him when he needed us.”

“A lot of the Republicans panicked, I think, and were more concerned about saving their political careers than supporting our nominee,” added Moore, who is fashioning himself as a Trump-style insurgent. “He had a bunch of cut-and-run congressmen.”

Roby’s aides insist her relationship with the administration has been nothing but warm. Her visits to the White House, they point out, came at the Trump team’s request. And there have been other hints at cooperation. In February, Trump gave Roby a retweet when she congratulated Attorney General Jeff Sessions on his confirmation, and in April, the president nominated the congresswoman’s chief of staff to a Justice Department post-- trophies that Roby’s advisers eagerly highlight.

While Roby’s aides don’t deny past tension with Trump, they say they’ve gotten no indication the president wants to unseat her.

“The White House has made it clear from day one that it is committed to working with Congress to deliver results, and Rep. Roby has a proven track record of consistently supporting President Trump's agenda,” said Emily Taylor, a Roby spokeswoman. “From being invited to NASA and VA bill signing ceremonies, to sitting in the Oval Office to help the President build support for the Republican health care bill, Rep. Roby has enjoyed a positive working relationship with the Trump Administration."

For now, Trump aides don’t expect him to weigh into Roby’s race with an endorsement for her opponent. But, at the same time, they don’t expect him to take steps to publicly back the incumbent.

Roby is just hoping to avoid Trump’s wrath, and that means doing whatever she can to ally herself with him.

In late March, as the debate over the health care bill raged, Roby and other House members were asked to come to the White House. At one point, the congresswoman was asked if she supported the legislation. As she later recounted in a video posted to her Facebook page, she looked the president in the eye and told him she did.

The president told her he appreciated it.
Roby's carefully gerrymandered deep red southeast Alabama district, which includes Dothan and the white parts of Montgomery, is one of those politically backward districts that voted more heavyily for Trump than it had for Romney. Trump beat Hillary in AL-02 in a landslide-- 64.9 to 33.0%. Roby had a closer race against Democrat Nathan Mathis, although she beat him 48.8% to 40.5%, with a 21,000 vote edge of 276,000 votes cast. She spent $1,828,096 and he didn't spend even the $5,000 that would have triggered an FEC report. This cycle the DCCC is making [fake] noises about contesting Roby's seat. The candidate will probably be Audri Scott Williams, a local activist and military veteran. How funny would it be if the NRCC was forced to spend money in Alabama to hold a seat because of Trump's childish and oafish Mafia behavior? Roby has carefully towed the party line and has a 100% vote score on the Trump scale, pretty sick and pretty extreme... great for a primary against a deranged Trumpist lunatic, but not so great in a general election.

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At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

100% Nazi asshole voting record won't help in a general election? In fucking AL-02? What... are you fucking delusional?

That is exactly what sub-sentient white Nazis in AL-02 will vote for.
She can only be beat by a middle-aged white male in a bedsheet carrying a burning cross. I'm sure Pelosi could scare one of those up if she wanted to.

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the vengeful asswipe cockholster in the WH won't jeopardize the Nazi's chances to keep congress.

Only two things can get in their way:
1) they forgot how to commit election fraud
2) Pelosi/scummer forget to recruit their usual slate of pigshit candidates to lose in a majority of races.

If $hillbillary decides to campaign for her side, that will almost assure the Rs keep both chambers.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between voter suppression efforts and intense gerrymandering, the GOP has no worries about losing control over the nation. The Keystone Kops would have run better campaigns than the Democrats have been capable of doing.


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