Thursday, August 03, 2017


On Tuesday, we read this at the Daily Beast:
... White House aides are signaling newfound openness to working with congressional Democrats—or, at least, to alleviating some of the toxic partisan differences that have marked their tenure.

Sources in the administration say an outreach campaign by newly minted Chief of Staff John Kelly is in the works to rebuild some bridges and, potentially, chip away at the unified Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda. Even before he formally started the job, Kelly was reaching out to top Capitol Hill Democrats in hopes of regaining political capital ahead of what is expected to be a bruising fight over tax reform and other administration priorities.
A couple of days earlier, after Reince Priebus was fired, there was this at Politico, under the headline "Without Priebus, Trump Is a Man Without a Party":
Trump has, since taking office, consistently referred to Republicans as though he is not one himself—it's invariably “they” or “them.” Unlike past presidents of his party, Trump entered the White House with few personal relationships with prominent Republicans: donors, lobbyists, party activists, politicians. This liberated him to say whatever he pleased as a candidate, and, by firing Priebus, Trump might feel similarly liberated. The fear now, among Republicans in his administration and on Capitol Hill, is that Trump will turn against the party, waging rhetorical warfare against a straw-man GOP whom he blames for the legislative failures and swamp-stained inertia that has bedeviled his young presidency. It would represent a new, harsher type of triangulation, turning his base against the politicians of his own party that they elected.
I hope no one was foolish enough to read these stories and imagine that Trump might now tack to the center in the hope of scoring some victories, perhaps with genuinely bipartisan infrastructure and tax-reform bills. Yesterday's news on immigration and affirmative action reminded us again that that's not going to happen. Trump may not be a Reince Priebus Republican, but he is a wingnut interest group Republican, as a story in The New York Times today makes clear:
Trump Keeps His Conservative Movement Allies Closest

... Mr. Trump has strained relations with a lot of people these days.... But through all the drama and dismay, one group has never really wavered: the leaders of the conservative movement.

This is no accident. Mr. Trump and members of his administration have spent their first six months in office cultivating and strengthening ties to the movement’s key groups and players with a level of attention and care that stands out for a White House that often struggles with the most elementary tasks of politics and governing.

Their outreach extends to groups across the ideological spectrum — small government, tax-averse Tea Party followers; gun owners; abortion opponents; evangelical Christians and other culturally traditional voters. And it reflects the importance that Mr. Trump and his aides have placed on the movement politics of the right, which they recognize as the one base of support they cannot afford to alienate since conservatives, according to Gallup, are 36 percent of the electorate.
The story tells us that Trump said "I love you" to former Heritage Foundation head Jim DeMint at a White House gathering of conservative leaders in March. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council says, “I’ve been to the White House I don’t know how many more times in the first six months this year than I was during the entire Bush administration.”

Trump might have frosty relations with the Republican Party, but he is, and will continue to be, an ideological Republican for as long as he's in the White House. I keep telling you the reasons: Fox News has colonized his brain; he loves fighting, and Fox News/interest-group Republicanism is about perpetual combat; and, of course, rank-and-file wingnuts give him the love for which he has junkie cravings.

Think of the Republican Party as the Catholic Church -- it reserves to itself the right to manage the faith of believers. Trump is more of an evangelical -- he has a personal relationship with wingnuttery. He doesn't need to practice this through an old-line church. But he still fervently professes the faith.

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