After Tuesday night, we are closer both to the repeal of Obamacare and to the firing of the special counsel investigating the Russia matter. Donald Trump may still grumble that congressional Republicans are mean. Congressional Republicans will continue to complain on background that the White House is crooked, chaotic, and compromised by Russia. But the high tension of the past has subsided; the distinctions between pro-Trump and anti-anti-Trump—between country club, Tea Party, and Trumpist factions—all are fading away. The Republicans of the Georgia Sixth were offered a safe and limited way to distance themselves from Trump, perhaps even to curb his excesses. They rejected it. He is theirs; they are his.
Both Paul Ryan and Donald Trump can fairly claim credit for Tuesday’s success—each certainly has avoided the blame he would have pinned on the other in defeat. The two leaders may still dislike and distrust each other. As a practical political matter, however, each is blurring into the other: their support ever more exactly overlapping; their agendas increasingly identical; their political prospects joined and interdependent. Obamacare repeal and Russia cover-up; the Gorsuch nomination and the Mar-a-Lago shakedowns; pussy-grabbing and tax-cutting: not everyone who champions the first half of those pairings is comfortable with the second, but they have agreed to hazard their political futures together. Over the past few weeks, that gamble has paid off again and again. Maybe it will be different in the future, but that future remains a far way’s off.