Thursday, April 27, 2017


Politico has a story about Donald Trump's presidential learning curve, or lack thereof. It would be an alarming report, except we already that the president had no idea what he was getting into, didn't even know what he didn't know, and doesn't know very much now.

But I'm going to ignore all that and pick out a passage in the story that isn't directly about Trump's ignorance. Here it is:
“He is not a movement conservative. He is definitely not an establishment Republican,” said Ken Blackwell, who headed domestic policy during Trump’s transition. “He’s transactional and makes calls based on his gut. Those of us who are accustomed to an ideological framework — it takes getting used to.”

But Trump’s ideologically noncommittal approach has bumped up against the constraints of a hyperpartisan Washington where the letters on congressional vote cards — D or R — are paramount.

Some are whispering that Trump should work with Democrats on infrastructure. Others say he must forge ahead only with Republicans on health care. Maybe he should work with both on taxes. Trump, it seems, is just looking for success.

“I am flexible,” as Trump said recently in a Rose Garden appearance. “And I’m proud of that flexibility.”
But he isn't particularly flexible, and his problems haven't been because of "hyperpartisan" Washington, if by that you mean the battle between Democrats and Republicans.

Trump's party has majorities in both houses of Congress. His biggest failure -- the demise of Trumpcare (or at least Trumpcare 1.0) -- came about because not enough members of his own party would vote for it. Granted, the Democrats are refusing as a bloc even to consider any version of the bill -- but Trump has made no effort to reach out to them, and every feature of the bill reduces the number of people covered, the quality of the coverage, and the price of the coverage, so why would any Democrat sign on? A purely "flexible," "transactional" president, stymied in his attempt to get factions within his own party to agree on a bill, might offer some sweeteners to the opposition in an effort to entice some of them to join with some Republicans to form a voting majority. Trump doesn't even seem to have considered that option.

This is the pattern. He's offering nothing to Democrats on taxes. We keep being told that he'll offer something to Democrats on infrastructure, but if so, where's the offer? He could do that now, even without a bill -- he likes to announce plans even when they're sketchy and completely lacking in detail. Why doesn't he do that with infrastructure? Shouldn't he be trying to entice Democrats with that, if he's "just looking for success" and is so "flexible"?

Nahhh. Trump is a Republican. He's flexible within a limited range that's bounded by populist white nationalism at one end and country-club/pro-military-industrial-complex Republicanism at the other. If he's flexible enough to transcend party boundaries, he sure hasn't shown it.

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