Tuesday, January 16, 2018


According to Politico's Annie Karni, people around President Trump believe he won't be impeached, but think he might not run again in 2020:
“There is no environment in which a Republican thinks Trump is going to be impeached,” explained [a] top Republican strategist. “But there’s a high degree of speculation that he doesn’t run — he doesn’t appear to be having fun, he’s old and angry. If he’s able to create his own fiction for why he’s leaving, why would he do this twice?”
Anyone who believes he'll bail is missing the obvious: Trump is obsessed with reelection. The fan worship during the 2016 campaign was an addictive drug for him, so much so that he's now trying to run a four-year reelection campaign. As Karni notes, he's already thinking about potential opponents:
Handicapping potential 2020 challengers — however premature the exercise is — has become a favorite pastime for the competitive president, who still regularly rehashes his shock win in the 2016 race.

“He’s always asking people, ‘Who do you think is going to run against me?’” said the Republican who heard the president’s assessment in December.
Being elected president was much more fun for him than being president is. Of course he wants to run again. Beating the odds in 2016 was so much fun, such a satisfying rebuke to his haters, that he'll absolutely want a second opportunity. I think he'd be delighted if he didn't have to wait three more years.

(It's true that by 2020 he might be suffering physical or mental impairments so severe he can't cover them up, or his legal troubles might be so great he'll want to bow out in order to minimize them. And while it's unlikely that there'll be 67 votes for a conviction in a Senate impeachment trial even after the upcoming midterms, Democrats could stage a 2018 blowout that will inspire Republicans to put a great deal of distance between themselves and Trump. But it's more likely that any impeachment or 25th Amendment move would fall short because of GOP loyalty to Trump.)

When it comes to 2020, the Trumpers are delusional:
One former White House official outlined a theory of the case that has gained some traction: Trump’s policies will continue to be popular all the way through his reelection campaign, but his approval rating will never crack 45 percent....
The tax cut is unpopular. Ending DACA is unpopular. Blowing up Obamacare is unpopular. In what world will "Trump’s policies ... continue to be popular all the way through his reelection campaign"? Obviously, only in the epistemically closed world of Trump rallies and the right-wing media.

The Trumpers see very few candidates who can beat Trump -- not Sanders (too old), not Warren (too lefty), not Gillibrand (no "mainstream appeal"). They worry about Oprah Winfrey and Joe Biden. Their belief that Trump's policies are popular but he isn't leads directly into fear of Biden:
... Trump’s policies will continue to be popular all the way through his reelection campaign, but his approval rating will never crack 45 percent — creating an opening for Biden, or someone like him, to recapture the loyalty of white Rust Belt Democrats who helped elect Trump in 2016.

“What we can’t let voters do is think they can get the same policies with someone they like better, like Joe Biden — someone who would fight for them but who doesn’t have the crass edge,” said the former White House staffer.
The same policies? You mean racism? The wall? Huge tax cuts for the rich? Deregulation? Climate change denialism? Gutting Obamacare and CHIP? Nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea? Alienation of all our foreign allies? Decimation of the State Department and other parts of the government? I'm ... uh, pretty sure that wouldn't be Joe Biden's platform.

I don't know what will happen in 2020. It's possible that Democrats won't find a truly inspiring presidential candidate. It's also possible that they won't need one because the public will be desperate for change.

Trump and his coterie seem to believe that they can win again despite terrible poll numbers, even though they're going to be running on Trump's unpopular first term and they're unlikely to face a candidate as widely maligned as Hillary Clinton. I like their overconfidence. I like the fact that they don't really believe the polls. I hope their unrealistic optimism doesn't subside until after the votes are counted in November 2020.

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