Administrative State

Trump Is Laughing at the Establishment


- May 5th, 2017
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Here we go again.

President Trump has been in office for little more than 100 days. Despite the retinue of successes in the face of extreme political adversity, some of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the media are turning on him. Just when the man has overcome every hurdle put in his way, even his own supporters in the professional punditocracy keep getting it wrong. Whether it’s the cruise missile strike in Syria, the purported failure of healthcare reform, or the recent budget imbroglio, Trump is being hit hardest by his friends.

They just don’t get it.

Just look at what the Trump Administration has managed to do. In 100 days, they managed to get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed by Congress in record time. Thanks to Trump’s executive orders on immigration, regulations, and several other issues, the president has managed to fulfill some of his strongest campaign promises. Of course, Congress will need to act in order to make these changes more permanent, but Trump has taken vital, decisive steps.

Rest assured, Trump has given no significant ground. As I wrote earlier this year, the Trump governing agenda is a marathon, not a sprint.

Meanwhile, on the foreign policy front, Trump has stopped the bleeding. Since he has taken office, U.S. operations against the Islamic State have reached an unprecedented tempo—not only in Iraq and Syria, but also in far off places, like Afghanistan. Thanks to his cunning use of coercive diplomacy, Trump managed to place America’s strongest rivals (Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea) on notice when he attacked Bashar al-Assad’s air force in Syria. Through this action, Trump managed to sway China to come to America’s side in mollifying the North Korean nuclear threat.

Still, vocal Trump supporters in the media have begun questioning Trump’s commitment to the causes that he championed in the campaign. Many are wondering if Trump is simply not serious enough about his agenda. Others claim that he’s lost credibility by (in their eyes) kowtowing to the Establishment. They think that the Establishment has neutered Trump and are now laughing at him, as though he were their little plaything.

Oh, ye of little faith!

Rest assured, Trump has given no significant ground. As I wrote earlier this year, the Trump governing agenda is a marathon, not a sprint. When it came to the budget, Trump picked his battles wisely. After all, the president has a major foreign policy crisis brewing with North Korea and he needs all political hands on deck.

Trump also has other parts of his agenda to push through—infrastructure, tax reform, and immigration—that he desperately wants to address. Starting a fight with Congress over the budget right now is useless. This is especially true when one considers that the budget issue was not resolved: the continuing resolution funding the government was merely maintained until September of this year. It is by no means permanent.

Congress may be unwilling to truly get their act together now, when the stakes regarding their personal political fortunes are low. But, rest assured, they will not risk having Trump publicly denounce them for failing to support his budget plans in September.

So, seven months from now, all of the onus will be on Congress. When September rolls around, Congress will be itching to focus on campaigning for the 2018 midterms. Trump will have considerable leverage over the wishy-washy members of Congress. Further, I’m convinced that the base of Trump’s support will remain almost as committed to Trump as it has been throughout his campaign for at least another year. That gives the President considerable sway over the Republicans in Congress.

Congress may be unwilling to truly get their act together now, when the stakes regarding their personal political fortunes are low. But, rest assured, they will not risk having Trump publicly denounce them for failing to support his budget plans in September. The last thing the GOP wants is a groundswell of Trumpists voting against them for not supporting the president.

After all, just look at what happened to those companies and networks that turned on Trump during the campaign. They suffered losses of profits and ratings. Those companies that were punished for supporting Trump, such as L.L. Bean, saw huge gains in their profits when they refused to abandon Trump. The president’s supporters are immensely loyal. It will take more than 100 days, or even a year, to lose them.

What’s more, there is already a revolt going on within the GOP. It would not take much to unseat some congressional leaders who are considered “unbeatable” in 2018. If Trump did not get the budget that he wanted (and that the base of the GOP wants as well), establishment Republicans, and some of those esoteric conservatives in Congress, may find themselves challenged by a Trump-approved rival. Trump will get what he wants in September based on this fact alone.

The Establishment thinks they have Trump right where they want him. Yet, it is he who has them dead-to-rights. Trump is biding his time, waiting for the most opportune moment to strike and get what he wants. That time is clearly September, not now.

Donald Trump has been a businessman long enough to know the glories of success and the bitter taste of defeat. When Trump had to declare bankruptcy, it was because he ended up biting off more than he could chew. He has learned when (and how) to pick his battles. Timing is everything. From here until September, the Trump legislative team will be prepared to wage a nonstop campaign to get the budget that Trump wants—the budget that our country needs.

Make no mistake: Trump is laughing at the overconfident Establishment. And, as always, “pride goeth before the fall.” The Establishment is not going to know what hit them come September: Trump will have them eating out of his hands…and he’ll leave the legacy media in the dust yet again.  

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