The warning signs are obvious.
And hapless Press Secretary Sean Spicer somehow managed to get himself accused of Holocaust denial when he claimed not even Hitler had used chemical weapons (unlike, supposedly, Bashar al-Assad). The MSM hysteria is absurd of course, and Spicer is obviously right Hitler never used battlefield chemical weapons, but President Trump isn’t going to get anywhere with a Press Secretary who keeps falling into traps no one has actually set for him.
One bright spot in this chaos: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who gave a fiery speech at the border on Monday, bluntly telling illegals the “Trump Era” had begun and they should not even bother trying to enter the country. Illegal immigration has plummeted. And there are some signs that Trump’s rhetoric alone has.
Yet ultimately, President Trump isn’t getting his agenda through. Indeed, it’s hard to say at this point what his agenda even is. He is governing like President George W. Bush, albeit with more attention to border security.
And a lot of this isn’t his fault, but the fault of the Republicans in Congress. Paul Ryan obviously never wanted or expected President Trump to win and has shown no interest in moving forward on Trump’s core issues of immigration, nationalist trade policies and infrastructure. Instead, Trump has allowed himself to be dragooned into supporting the Paul Ryan agenda the president’s voters’ thought they had rejected during the primaries.
T.A. Frank at Vanity Fair argued last month Trump is going along with this because he ultimately is reliant on the Republican Congress in order to deliver on his promises on immigration.
Only Republicans, reluctant as many of them may be, can help Trump get his wall or enact policy revisions such as increasing the ratio of skilled to unskilled immigrants. Democrats will be of no help on these fronts, because the party has been moving so fast away from all enforcement. (Chuck Schumer now promises “tooth and nail” opposition to any funding of the same fence he voted for in 2006.) Republicans are Trump’s only hope on this, and he can’t afford to alienate them by cutting deals with Democrats on things like trade protections or expensive infrastructure bills, at least not now. Those will have to wait. Trump and the G.O.P. have to stay friends. So: Ryancare.Frank’s analysis still holds, especially as Republicans may take up health care again once they return from recess as well as moving on tax reform. Needless to say, goofing off with health care and tax reform (not to mention interventions for “Human Rights” overseas) is hardly what Trump supporters thought they were voting for.
[The Dirty Secret Behind The Trumpcare Imbroglio, March 23, 2017. Links in original.]
What’s more, Ryan’s agenda shows a real lack of original thinking, with the Speaker pushing policies that are not just regressive but deeply unpopular. It wasn’t Ryan’s “Better Way,” after all, that flipped the Rust Belt.
The grim reality: Donald Trump will be an inconsequential one-term president if he tries to govern as a conventional Republican.
Three factors are working against him.
And the Republican Party can’t lose the energy and enthusiasm of all those crossover Democrats and independents Donald Trump won to his cause during the campaign. Is Trump really willing to lose his most fervent supporters in order to appease a man who wouldn’t even defend him during the campaign? [Exclusive: Audio Emerges Of When Paul Ryan Abandoned Donald Trump, by Matthew Boyle, Breitbart, March 13, 2017].
Far from firing Bannon, Donald Trump needs to start advancing the agenda which got him elected. There are two ways to do this.
The first option: split the Democrats by pushing—
The second option: simply push popular programs that keep faith with Trump’s patriotic base on the National Question. And some of the legislation is already there—Trump just has to tweet endorsement!
Donald Trump is a political neophyte and so it makes sense he initially showed deference to the likes of Paul Ryan.
But if Trump’s victory showed anything, it’s that Republicans don’t just push stupid ideas, they are simply bad at electoral politics. Americans didn’t elect Donald Trump because they love Republicans or hate Democrats. They were looking for something genuinely new, a champion who could push the policies no one else could.
If Donald Trump breaks faith with these Americans looking for change, he’ll lose the only people willing to fight for him. And he’ll find his new Republican friends will throw him under the bus as gleefully as they tried to do during the campaign in its periodic rough patches when Trump lost his focus.
It’s time to Make Trump Trump Again. After all, we’re not tired of winning.
Indeed, we’re beginning to ask when the winning is going to even start.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.