Saturday, March 02, 2019


I keep reading that the president had a terrible week, and that his marathon speech at CPAC today was an attempt to shore up support.

The rollicking two-hour-plus appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland offered the president a brief respite from an otherwise miserable week in which his much-touted summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ended in failure and his former personal lawyer delivered explosive testimony to Congress.
The Daily Beast:
Come Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump had endured a long week of failure and embarrassment. His high-profile summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam didn’t result in any discernible breakthrough in denuclearization efforts—though he did manage to outrage the family of an American university student who the North Korean dictator’s regime essentially tortured to death.

Stateside, Trump’s lawyers and surrogates were left to run damage control over the congressional testimony of the president’s former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, who spent Wednesday publicly accusing his old boss of rampant corruption, racism, and destruction of the republic.

And the president’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill telegraphed increasing signs of a coming defection on Trump’s declared national emergency in a strong-arm effort to build his promised wall on the southern border.

But on Saturday, President Trump and his motorcade arrived at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference to spin the past week, and the last two years, as an unqualified triumph, greeted by attendees and adoring fans as a hero and titan political operator.
In fact, the president is doing just fine. His poll numbers have recovered from a brief dip during the government shutdown. Only 37% of poll respondents think Michael Cohen's congressional testimony was credible (25% don't, 39% aren't sure). And, as The Washington Post's Robert Costa notes, Republicans in Congress remain unswervingly loyal to Trump, which means he has ironclad impeachment insurance:
When President Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen testified last week that his former boss was a “racist” and “con man” who routinely skirts the law, Republicans showed little interest in following up on his claims.

They shrugged when Trump called murderous dictator Kim Jong Un a “real leader” and once again elevated the North Korean leader on the world stage.

And faced with a vote on Trump’s legally contested declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border, just 13 of 197 House Republicans opposed him.

Acquiescence to Trump is now the defining trait of the Republican Party more than two years into his presidency — overwhelming and at times erasing principles that conservatives viewed as the foundation of the party for more than a half century.
Trump still has reason to fear the Mueller report, the Southern District of New York, and a number of committees in the House. But for now, he's doing fine -- but he got bad press this week and that irks him.

Today's speech was a Festivus-style airing of grievances, partly tethered to the latest trends in liberal-bashing. You know Cleek's Law: "Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily." To some extent, that's what Trump delivered:

But Trump mostly grumbled about everything he's ever grumbled about as president: press scrutiny of his inaugural crowd size, the recusal decision by Jeff Sessions, and, of course, "the fake news."

And that's his superpower: He has a bottomless well of right-wing grievance. Nobody does grievance better on the right. He hasn't had a terrible week -- he's had a typicxal Trump week, which means a lot of terrible things happened and 45% of the country, at minimum, doesn't believe they were terrible. And then today he had an excellent day, by his measure.

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