The Trump show

Trump will make the bully pulpit look like an anthill. He’ll use all the powers at his disposal — incessant tweets (and the media’s obsessive coverage of them), call-ins to morning shows, speeches, rallies — to go over the heads of Congress, appealing directly to Republican voters, using insults, conspiracies, and outright lies to whip them up into a frenzy of support or opposition to anything Trump wishes. Then the calls, emails, and online abuse will flood into the offices of any congressman daring to oppose the president.

Does Ryan want to pass his favored ObamaCare replacement? Or partial Social Security privatization? Then he better play ball with the president and give him what he wants on infrastructure, trade, and immigration. Because if he doesn’t, Trump will sink it all. Think he’s above turning on the GOP leadership, calling them enemies of working people, railing against them for destroying entitlements? If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that Trump isn’t above anything. He won’t hesitate to conjure up a tidal wave of furious opposition and even join forces Democrats to scuttle every bit of Ryan’s precious conservative agenda if he thinks it will advance his own plans and keep himself center stage in the national drama.

Will it work? It depends on what you mean by “work.” If it means Trump getting what he wants, policy-wise, it just might. Think of how most elected Republicans stayed on board the Trump train through the campaign, despite behavior that repulsed many of them. They stayed put because they were terrified to face the wrath of their own Trump-supporting voters.

But there’s another meaning of “work.” Even if Trump gets nothing from Congress, he will still have succeeded in putting on an immensely entertaining performance for the American people.