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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Is Trump Leadership Winning Or Losing?


Are Democrats Losing or Winning?

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US Republican and Democrat mascots represented by a donkey and an elephant face off in business suits with red white and blue boxing gloves on white background
Last year, when Donald Trump won the presidency against all odds and triumphed over the more experienced and seemingly better prepared Hillary Clinton, Democrats were at a loss as to what to do — not only had they lost the presidency, but they had failed to retake majorities in either house of Congress and seemed destined to lose any hope of advantage in the Supreme Court.
Now, more than three months into the presidency, Democrats are feeling better despite their losses, because Trump and the Republicans have been stymied in terms of accomplishing their legislative goals, and Trump hasn’t been allowed to push through all of his agency and cabinet appointments. National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was forced out of his job after just 24 days, and Trump’s picks for Secretary of the Army and Secretary of the Navy were forced to withdraw from their appointments due to conflicts of interest. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been accused of lying to Congress in his confirmation hearings.
And even for Cabinet appointees who eventually settled into their positions without controversy, the process of confirmation has been dragged out much longer than necessary, resulting in a frustratingly slow start for the Trump administration in terms of having its personnel in place.
Despite the fact that Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, Democrats retain 48 seats, and thus can filibuster legislation they object to. They can reject confirmations of Supreme Court nominees and block treaties and appropriations bills, which all require a 60-vote majority for passage (barring Republicans’ use of the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate rules to allow passage via a simple majority instead).
Thus far, this lack of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate has doomed the replacement of Obamacare by the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) (although its prospects in the Senate may have been dead on arrival due to conservative Republicans’ own objections to the bill).
Most recently, the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has been held up by the Democrats, tempting Republicans to enact the nuclear option (which President Trump is strongly in favor of), despite Republicans’ reticence to do so.
Democrats have threatened to block passage of an appropriations bill that would keep the government running if funding for Trump’s Mexican border wall is included. If a showdown occurs over the wall, Democrats are hopeful that Republicans would take the blame for the government shutting down, due to their majority control in Congress and obstinacy in trying to satisfy the desires of their conservative base.
And finally, Democrats (and even some establishment Republicans like Arizona Senator John McCain) have been crying wolf over Trump’s supposed ties to Russia during his presidential campaign. Prominent Democrats have used this and other charges to push calls for Trump’s impeachment.
This is despite the fact that top leaders in the intelligence community have said there’s no evidence to back up such connections. But why let that get in the way of a good media story? Certainly, Democrats have been enjoying every chance they’ve gotten to bash, smear, perturb and impugn Trump and Republican Congressional leaders.
There’s been no end of Democratic finger-pointing at Trump’s missteps and exaggerations on everything from the size of his inauguration crowds to the number of immigrants who have committed terrorist attacks on American soil.
But at the end of the day, beyond Trump-bashing, appointee obstructing and legislation killing, Democrats can point to just about nothing in terms of positive accomplishments. Trump has managed to undo President Obama’s executive orders on everything from pipeline building to transgender bathrooms, and cutting funding for sanctuary cities and climate change policy reform are next on the agenda. Congress appears ready to give Trump what he wants in terms of military spending, immigration reform, business deregulation and child care initiatives.
Trump has managed to bring back thousands of jobs that American companies had shipped (or threatened to ship) overseas and on top of that has convinced foreign companies to invest in American labor and American production plants. He’s supported American workers in industries from coal-mining to automobile manufacturing.
These actions are a far cry from what President Obama achieved, with the ex-president being better known for overseeing tremendous job losses, downward-falling incomes, economic malaise and the further loss of American competitiveness.
In fact, if Democrats aren’t lucky, their accusations regarding Russia could come back to haunt them in the form of evidence that the FBI or other agencies spied on Trump and his associates prior to the presidential election, either under orders from President Obama or at least with the explicit knowledge thereof.
Even worse, if a special prosecutor is ultimately assigned to look into Russian connections, trails may end up leading to Obama-era intelligence officials, the Clintons and their Foundation, or worse. There are many media commentators who correctly assess that the Democrats are only digging themselves a deeper ditch and have found their way into Trump-set traps with their calls for investigations, special prosecutors and eventual impeachment.
Already, there have been embarrassments in the press, such as when Rachel Maddow claimed she had a “scoop” on her hands with Trump’s tax return from 2005 that turned out to be a non-story at best.
Cases like this may be a harbinger of what’s to come if progressives keep pushing for Trump’s head on a platter. Although Democratic lawmakers are well aware that their constituents have been loudly baying for Trump’s blood, their angry insistence on obstruction and resistance may ultimately be a losing strategy, as it sets the Republicans up not to compromise an inch on a conservative agenda.
In fact, it’s liberal voters who may need to “wake up and smell the coffee” regarding fighting the Trump administration. Instead of trying to attack the president with everything they’ve got, it may be wiser to try to compromise and at least (hopefully) get a piece of what they want.
Trying to paint Trump as an out-of-control or incompetent madman is ineffective, as the president’s successful and nearly universally well-received State of the Union address proved. Making up false claims about figures such as Attorney General Sessions, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon or Trump himself is ill-advised, as such claims inevitably roll off these people like Teflon.
It may be time for Democrats to realize that although they’d like to think they’re winning victories, their “achievements” are all in the negative column, and their position politically is no better (in fact, it’s arguably worse) than it was following the November elections.
Democratic leadership appears to have no new ideas in its heads and few, if any, new candidates for top jobs that will become vacant in the next five to ten years as current leaders retire. For Republicans, this is nothing but good news, and constituents can only hope this stagnation continues well into 2018.