Ben Domenech at the Federalist was back yesterday elaborating on his excellent thesis that Trump has pivoted to the Democrats because the congressional leadership is just as feckless as Obama was as president.
We ought not be surprised. Trump has been signaling he would do so (it’s a link to the WaPo, so just know it is a fake story overall, but notes the Trump admin said as far back as March, they might work with Dems if Republicans cannot pass legislation. The rest of the story is pure WaPo slop).
The problem with McConnell and Ryan is not that they are insufficiently ideological. It’s that they represent a party to which the president of their party (technically) does not belong, a theory of government that he explicitly ran against. There is no mandate for the “Better Way” agenda. There is no mandate for McConnell’s agenda – whatever that is. There is a mandate for something like Trump’s agenda – or big pieces of it. And he’s flexible about which pieces.
Congressional leadership thinks if they and Trump disagree, clearly Trump should give way and follow their lead. But why? He beat them, and they couldn’t beat him. The party didn’t go for any of the other candidates because they wanted him. Yet since his inauguration congressional Republicans have acted like they have an equal seat at the table. They don’t have that, and they don’t deserve it. And Trump should stop pretending they do.
It is more likely that Trump peels off the remainder of the Democrat base, making them Republicans. Trump will pivot in hopes he can get the Congressional leadership to play ball. If they don’t, then they will have to explain come 2018 why they are still unable to do anything.
Our friend Ben Domenech writes that Trump has made a shift to working with the Democrat Party because the Republicans are intransigent. This may be the case. But in the recent deal–disaster relief for debt ceiling–Trump has actually done very little. This may be a deal to get a better deal.
Congressional Republicans should wake up. Deal with Trump or face an electorate who wonders why you matter.
Charlottesville looms large, but this is one of the most statesman-like speeches of Trump: