Thursday, April 27, 2017


Larry Sabato's Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has just conducted a poll and focus group of swing-state Trump voters. As in many other recent polls, the Trump voters are, for the most part, still delighted with the president. Here are some of their statements of praise:

"He went to work right away"! He's praiseworthy for "not wasting any time dragging his feet"! Yes, he leapt in with both feet and ordered a Muslim ban -- which was blocked twice. And he insisted on a quick replacement for Obamacare -- which everyone hates and no one wanted to vote on. America "should be run by a businessman" -- even, I guess, if he's a businessman who's terrible at making deals.

I shouldn't mock these people. They're just ordinary citizens. We can't expect them to have a sophisticated grasp of how government works and whether Trump is an effective president.

So let's turn to a sophisticated political insider -- Mike Allen of Axios. Here he reports on some new insights from one of his fellow-insider colleagues:
In a whirlwind of White House leaks, prods and announcements leading up to Saturday's 100-day milestone, one unifying characteristic explains everything President Trump is doing. Aides say he is still the dealmaker — pragmatic and practical, rather than ideological.

Buzz: Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me after a visit to the West Wing yesterday that aides think Trump now understands the system better and how to work it, with the revival of health reform as a shining example of a classic Trump move.

His dealmaker roots have surfaced repeatedly this week:

* He announces a tax "plan" that's one page, so he has plenty of room to negotiate details with the Hill, and give lots of wins.

* Aides debate renouncing NAFTA but say it'll be a process, not something sudden....

* Rather than playing heavy-handed broker on health care, the White House pushes toward a House vote as soon as tomorrow by letting conservatives and moderates work out internal differences on terms that are partly self-initiated. Swan explains that instead of bullying holdouts, Trump let the air drain out of the initial attempt, then let the factions start again themselves.
The ordinary citizens in the Center for Politics focus group praised Trump for being a man of action and a skilled practitioner of the art of the deal. How naive of them! By contrast, here are Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen -- clever insiders, both of them -- telling us that Trump is ... a man of action and a skilled practitioner of the art of the deal!

Really, Mike and Jonathan, we know why the tax plan was one page: Trump was desperate to have something out there right now because of his obsession with the meaningless hundred-days milestone. The same is true for the empty bluster on NAFTA, and his insistence on a revival of Zombie Trumpcare.

All of these efforts are detail-free works in progress because Trump doesn't understand a damn thing about any issue he faces and hasn't hired enough people to do an adequate amount of thinking for him, not because he's cleverly left some blanks unfilled so "lots of wins" can be had by all.

The Trump believers in the focus group are easily gulled rubes -- and so are Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan at Axios.

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