יום רביעי, 28 בפברואר 2018

Trump Is Winning


Donald Trump is on track to win reelection to the presidency of the United States.

Yes, despite Russiagate, despite shitholegate and despite whatever gate he blunders through next. Despite approval ratings that would make Nixon weep. Despite his mind-numbing political misjudgments—defending accused pedophiles, for example—and the endless, unnecessary daily drama. Trump is winning. It is actually happening, people. And if there are those who want to stop it—and there are, of course, millions—they need to know what they are up against. It’s a lot more than they overconfidently think.

First, consider the fact that Trump is simply lucky. Maybe one of the luckiest men to ever run for president. He’s somehow managed to turn his reputation for audacity and shamelessness into a shield. How many controversies and scandals has he survived that would have destroyed any of his predecessors long ago or sent them hiding in their homes in shame? The other day his personal lawyer made the preposterous claim that he personally paid $130,000 to an ex-porn star threatening to expose her relationship with Trump—with money from his own pocket—apparently just because Trump is a notoriously swell guy. How many lawyers do you know who’d so generously shell out over one hundred grand for a friend simply out of the goodness of their heart?

Did anyone believe that ridiculous story? Who knows—because it’s off the front pages and we moved on to yet another shocking scandal like last weekend’s tweetstorm, when the president of the United States seemed to blame the Russia investigation for the death of schoolchildren in Florida. Remember the pardon of the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a birther who was accused of using his office to target political opponents and conduct racial profiling and was found guilty of a felony for disobeying a court order? Remember the phone call with the war widow when Trump seemed to forget the dead soldier’s name? Nobody does. We are too exhausted. We don’t have time.

Second, consider Trump’s record as president. He actually has something to run on. He’s cut taxes. He’s rolled back regulations. He’s put ISIS on its heels. The economy and the stock market are humming along again, despite recent turmoil. Any other Republican incumbent running on that record of relative peace and prosperity—just as Eisenhower and Reagan did—would be in pretty good shape for reelection. Trump, as loathed as he is, might not cruise to reelection on an electoral landslide like those predecessors. But if jobs continue to be created and the economy continues to hum, whether he deserves the credit or not, enough voters might just hold their nose again and vote for him.

Third, his opposition can’t get their act together. Who speaks for the Democratic Party? Depends on what time it is. What does the Democratic Party stand for? Well, they hate Trump and Russia. Oh, and they oppose tax cuts, always a popular proposition, especially at a time when Trump’s supposedly satanic tax bill has now found favor with a majority of the nation.

A lot, of course, depends on who Trump will be running against come November 2020. With Trump appearing both despised and vulnerable, the Democratic field in 2020 is going to be perhaps the largest in the party’s history. But that’s actually a problem. One can easily envision an ugly two-, three- or four-way free-for-all between aging but popular politicians—Biden, Warren and Sanders—along with any number of younger but untested outsiders that could divide the party for the entire campaign. The Hillary and Bernie wings never quite reconciled in 2016—to Trump’s benefit. This time, the divide looks like it could be even worse.

Ah, but wait, you say. You forgot about the silver-haired knight waiting in his castle to come out and slay the orange dragon once and for all. What about the Robert Mueller investigation, the one that CNN has devoted its entire network to covering with such intensity that they may soon move the entire D.C. bureau to Mueller’s front lawn? Isn’t that going to send Trump and his evil cronies to the pokey?

Well, I guess it’s possible. But not likely.

It’s true that Mueller seems to run a tight ship with a penchant for surprises, such as the recent indictment of 13 Russians for conspiring to tamper with the 2016 elections. Maybe Mueller will take the unprecedented step of indicting a sitting American president, for everything from perjury to obstruction of justice to secretly running an Airbnb with Vladimir Putin. But, in fact, that seems like a bolder move than one can expect from a by-the-book former prosecutor who needs to maintain his credibility. Most likely, Mueller and his team will compile a persuasive but not conclusive case that the president committed one or more crimes, leaving it for the good men and women of the United States Congress to decide what to do about it. And when has Congress last been counted on to do the right thing?

Then there’s the truly desperate notion lingering out there among the left: Surely there must be someone in the GOP who will come to his or her senses and lead a stand against the president. Yes, maybe it will be Mitt Romney, who hates Trump so much he tried to be his secretary of state. Or maybe it’s Bob Corker, who quite incredibly seems to have gone from saying Trump was unstable and roaming around an adult day care center to becoming a telephone buddy trying to regain Trump’s favor.

Face it: The Republicans, most of them, are by now so accustomed to inertia and groupthink and political impotence that they seem willing to lose control of the House just to avoid getting a mean tweet from the president. Think the GOP will abandon Trump easily? They’ve all but given up.

Yep. Trump is a helluva lucky guy. And that just might give us six more years.

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