A memorable quote from an Axios source, but obviously, transparently false. Not once in his 71 years has Donald J. Trump believed that people really f***ing hate him. This is a guy who convinced himself that he lost the popular vote last year only because a few million illegals voted for Hillary Clinton.
It’s more the case, I’m sure, that Trump thinks people really love him and realized after the Schumer/Pelosi deal that with some bipartisan outreach they might love him even more.
This week’s bear hug of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer opened Trump’s eyes to one solution: Stop doing things that people hate, and start striking deals…
He can spend money, not take it away. Trump hates complex topics and gravitates to things you can build, such as planes or new infrastructure projects…
He can liberate himself. He feels boxed in inside the White House and felt handcuffed to GOP leaders. No more. He had it with McConnell — thinks he’s past his prime, no longer capable of leading. Considers him low-energy. He has much more natural rapport with Schumer, a friend from the New York days.
For any other Republican, a calculated strategy of partnering with Chuck Schumer would be political ruin. That’s one of the reasons Marco Rubio never caught on last year, right? He’d gotten rolled by the Senate’s most prominent Democrat in the Gang of Eight immigration deal. How could you ever trust Rubio again? Now here we are with Schumer’s longtime New York pal conducting “love-ins” with him in the Oval Office. Will Trump pay a price for that with the base? Nah. Mark Sanford knows why:
“It’s a cult of personality,” said Mr. Sanford, who faces a primary challenge from a state legislator who charges that the congressman has been inadequately loyal to the president. “He’s fundamentally, at the core, about Donald Trump. He’s not about ideas. And ideas are what parties are supposedly based on.”…
“If you would go to my county Republican clubs right now, they are all about Trump,” said Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida. “He is the party.”
“Cult of personality” is a strong term, but when 98 percent of people who voted for Trump in the primary and the general election approve of his performance, probably not too strong.
There are only two rules of Republicanism now. Rule one: Whatever pleases Trump is the right course of action. Rule two: If what pleases Trump is ambiguous (and it often is, given shifts in his opinion), whatever makes liberals cry is the right course of action. The Schumer/Pelosi deal is an obvious example of rule one at work. A debt-ceiling standoff in December could bring rule two into play if Trump decides to sit back for awhile and see what Ryan and McConnell can hammer out with Democrats by way of compromise. But rule two is complicated by the fact that Ryan and McConnell are now themselves arguably villains on a Schumer/Pelosi scale from the standpoint of the grassroots right. They’ve displeased Trump far more often this year than any Democrat has and they haven’t been nearly as gung ho for fiscal brinksmanship as conservatives like Mark Meadows have. Depending on how cuddly Trump gets with Schumer and Pelosi, rule two may soon be rewritten such that whatever makes establishment Republicans cry is the right course of action. Ironically, the grassroots right may find themselves more or less aligned with big-spending Nancy Pelosi during December’s fiscal cliff ostensibly because Ryan and McConnell didn’t do *enough* to restrain spending during the Obama years.
Over the weekend the Times called Trump the closest thing to a true independent as president that America’s had in 150 years. What are the odds that he’ll end up making that official at some point? Strategically it’d be bananas, as it would sever the ties of blind partisan loyalty that bind some “soft Trumpers” within the GOP to him right now and risk a challenge in 2020 from a more conservative Republican nominee in the general election. But in terms of grandiosity it’d be pure Trump. He’d love to make history, I’m sure, as the guy who got reelected and beat *both* major parties in the process. And he’d love to stick it to Ryan, McConnell, and other GOP establishmentarians who palpably dislike him in the process. Going indie would also make it somewhat easier for Schumer and Pelosi to deal with him, which will prove especially useful if either of them ends up back in the majority in 2019. Matthew Walther hopes Trump goes for it:
Divorcing the GOP might allow Trump, finally, to concentrate on those aspects of his platform — shoring up our entitlements, undertaking a vast program of infrastructure spending, fixing or quitting our ludicrous trade deals, coming up with a superior, more humane health-care program, not fighting unnecessary wars — that are viewed with indifference or outright loathing by much of the Republican Party in Congress and by vast swathes of the wider GOP-aligned parts of the media.
This wouldn’t just be an amazing second act for Trump’s flying circus of a political career. It would also, in a single Death Star-like instant, destroy the illusion that the calcified two-party system accurately represents the views and aspirations of some 300-plus million Americans. If Trump were to run for re-election in 2020 on an independent platform having managed to implement at least some of his agenda with the help of people of good will in both parties, it could mean the end of an absurd quadrennial in which people vote against their conscience or their economic interest because they don’t want to throw away their votes on a third-party candidate with no chance of earning a single electoral vote.
I can imagine Trump running as an independent. Imagining him running as the head of a true third party is harder because his agenda isn’t entirely, er, coherent and there’s little evidence that he’d want the day-to-day headaches of managing a new party. Trump is for Trump; to the extent that he’s interested in recruiting candidates for other offices, it’s to settle scores with people on his personal sh*t list, like Jeff Flake. But maybe that’s what Steve Bannon’s sudden interest in Republican primaries is about. Trump could be the figurehead for a new third party while Bannon, Robert Mercer, and others focus on recruiting and the nuts and bolts of politicking. Better that Trump build his own National Front from the ground up than fill the hollowed-out shell of America’s “conservative party” with his brand of nationalism.
Here’s Rush Limbaugh sounding mighty comfortable indeed with Trump’s deal with Schumer/Pelosi. I wonder if this is more an example of rule one or an example of that modified rule two that I discussed earlier. If a deal pleases Trump *and* makes Ryan and McConnell cry, how can it possibly be wrong?