Wednesday, November 07, 2018


The Washington Post's Robert Costa believes that the president might tack leftward now:
Conservatives who have learned to love President Trump, a relative newcomer to their movement, could emerge from Tuesday’s election anxious that he might now leave them in the cold to cut deals with newly empowered congressional Democrats.

On the horizon are an array of hot-button issues that are top priorities for conservatives but could prove tempting areas of compromise for the famously transactional Trump as he seeks to repair his presidency ahead of the 2020 election....

“He has carried the ball as effectively as anybody for the right, but the reality is, there is not a deep philosophical bent there,” said Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump Great America super PAC. “He’s always been about getting what you can get.”
How do I say this politely? Stop. Really, just stop. Trump is not "transactional." It's inaccurate to say that "there is not a deep philosophical bent there."

After years of binge-watching Fox News, Trump is really a Republican now. More specifically, Trump is a true believer in a combination of Fox News Republicanism and white nationalist paleoconservatism (which is now conveniently available to him on Fox as well).

Costa tries to portray Trump as a Republican heretic, but he arrives at this conclusion by defining Republicanism far too narrowly:
Trump has fundamentally redefined the modern Republican Party, lurching a historically free-trade institution toward protectionism on trade and infusing its appeals with racially charged conspiracy theories, rampant demagoguery and proud declarations that he is “absolutely a nationalist.”
But these are also Republican ideas -- that's why Pat Buchanan was able to get 40% of the vote in the 1992 Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, running on these ideas against a sitting president.

Congressional Republicans have made the adjustment to Trump-style Republicanism for simple reasons: Racially charged conspiracy theories and rampant demagoguery have been part of mainstream Republicanism for years, though usually outsourced in the past to right-wing media and the occasional back-bencher, and the protectionist and nationalist stuff is a small price to pay for Trump's backing of classic Republican tax cuts, widespread corporate deregulation, and Federalist/Heritage Society judges.

But everything's changed now, right? Won't Trump want legislative victories however he can get them in the next two years?

That argument would make sense if Trump had cared about legislative victories over the last two years. In fact, he's had one major legislative victory -- the tax bill -- and that's been more than enough for him. Despite this thin record, he boasts about himself as if he's the most successful and accomplished president in American history.

(He does like getting judges approved, but that takes place in the Senate, where he'll still have a Republican majority.)

Trump doesn't have an emotional need for accomplishments. He has an emotional need for enemies. As long as he feels he's vanquishing enemies, even just verbally, he's fine.

If he does wake up one morning and decide he wants an infrastructure bill or a deal on the Dreamers, there are so many levels of containment around him that partisan slippage is next to impossible. White House aides, particularly Stephen Miller, will keep him off the forbidden path. Fox hosts, both on and off the air, will pressure him not to stray. And Mitch McConnell will bottle up anything that manages to slip out of a Democratic House.

Trump will name judges, issue executive orders, take credit for the deregulatory efforts of his Cabinet secretaries, and maybe start a war or two. Soon he'll probably begin to use the Justice Department as his own secret police. All of that will please the Fox News hosts he loves so much. It will also keep him at war with the enemy he and the Fox hosts share, the Democratic Party.

That's plenty for him. He doesn't need to be "transactional."

Edited to remove a quote used inappropriately.

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