Colin Powell ... warned George W. Bush about the consequences of invading Iraq: "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all." As Bob Woodward recounted in a 2004 book, “Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.”This is a joke, right?
-- Trump and the congressional Republicans who have chosen to make their bed with him are responsible for what happens from now on. There is now no one to blame if they can't pass budgets, avoid shutdowns, deal with sequestration, replace Obamacare, destroy ISIS or reverse the continuing loss of manufacturing jobs. If climate change gets worse, it’s on them. If Syria continues its downward spiral, it’s on them. If more countries acquire nuclear weapons, it’s on them. It may be totally unfair, but that’s the way our system works.
Republicans are the masters of messaging. They're going to shift blame skillfully and relentlessly once Donald Trump is president -- nothing is going to be his fault, or Paul Ryan's fault, or Mitch McConnell's. They've been laying the groundwork for eight years, telling us that the Obama presidency was the greatest calamity in American history, on every conceivable level. They may not have persuaded a majority of Americans -- Obama's approval rating is the highest it's been in years -- but they persuaded enough voters in enough swing states to swipe the election, and they've probably persuaded a very large percentage of the likely voters in the 2018 midterms.
And if they can't blame problems on Obama, they have a lot of practice demonizing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. If Pelosi somehow loses her leadership position to Tim Ryan, he'll become the new right-wing Antichrist. Republicans are in campaign mode every day of every year; I bet they're already amassing oppo to use against him.
Sluggish economy? Wahhh, Obama left us the worst economy ever! Difficulties in the fight against ISIS? Wahhh, Obama weakened the American military and called ISIS the JV team! North Korea nukes Los Angeles! Wahhh, Obama led from behind! They'll use these excuses for years.
The last time Republicans had unified control of the government, the American people were so happy with how it went that they made San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House and a community activist turned law professor named Barack Hussein Obama the first black president.Yes, but that took years. Republicans started Bush's presidency controlling all of Congress; they lost control of the Senate early in Bush's first term, then regained it after the 2002 midterms. It took botched Katrina relief, a failed effort to privatize Social Security, an attempt to force the effectively brain-dead Terri Schiavo to stay on life support against her stated wishes, and three and a half years of utter failure in Iraq for voters to finally give Republicans the boot. That was after nearly six years of the Bush presidency.
Republicans were undone by the war, which had been Bush's proudest achievement. The system didn't have to force him to take ownership of it -- he reveled in being a war president. That turned sour for the GOP, but it hadn't been a problem even in 2004, despite the fact that weapons of mass destruction never turned up and Abu Ghraib torture photos did.
So trust me, the Trump and the GOP are going to avoid blame for a lot longer than they should.