The Washington Post last week published an op-ed by John Danforth, a former U.S. senator from Missouri. His piece—“The real reason Trump is not a Republican”—is another unwanted visit into the banal, detached mind of an anti-Trump Republican.
Danforth, an octogenarian who began his political career the year I was born (1968), mutters and sputters about how Trump is the most divisive political figure since George Wallace and that the GOP has been “corrupted by this hateful man.” (Of course, lots of people such as Andrea Mitchell, Jake Tapper and Mark Halperin—who long ago stopped caring what John Danforth had to say—eagerly tweeted out his piece.)
Danforth tries to convince us the president is not a Republican, well, because he’s no Abe Lincoln:
Many have said that President Trump isn’t a Republican. They are correct, but for a reason more fundamental than those usually given. Some focus on Trump’s differences from mainstream GOP policies . . . and Trump agrees with most Republicans on many issues. Others point to the insults he regularly directs at party members and leaders, but Trump is not the first to promote self above party. The fundamental reason Trump isn’t a Republican is far bigger than words or policies. He stands in opposition to the founding principle of our party—that of a united country.
Let’s break this down. According to Danforth, Trump is not not a Republican because of his policies. Trump is not not a Republican because he’s a self-aggrandizing, political opportunist like everyone else. Trump is not a Republican, Danforth concludes, because he’s a big meanie. He refuses to play nice with his powerful enemies, many of whom are also fierce foes of capitalism, free speech, national security, and limited government—otherwise known as stuff that matters to Republicans. Nonetheless, Danforth urges Republicans to “disassociate ourselves from Trump . . . by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican.”
Time for your meds, Senator.
That same day, the Wall Street Journal published a similarly disjointed editorial about how Trump is “divorcing” the Republican Congress. Following Trump’s tweets aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Journal suggests Trump is splitting up with the two, then advises Congress to pursue its own agenda (LOL) and treat Trump as if he were not a Republican:
All of which means that Republicans in Congress need to think of themselves as governing with an independent President—if they don’t already. This doesn’t mean joining Democrats as “the Resistance.” But it does mean acting on their own to fulfill their legislative promises with or without the support of Mr. Trump.
The Journal urges Congress to act on the two legislative priorities that are most important to Republican voters: Funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling (yes, that is my tongue in my cheek). The piece pooh-poohs any “conservatives [who] want to tie policy reforms to the increase” and says Republicans will get “no benefit” forcing a government shutdown over a border wall. Then the editorial weirdly ends with this:
Legislative success—especially on tax reform—is the best way Republicans can protect themselves from any Trump undertow in 2018. They need a record to change the campaign subject from whatever the President is tweeting a year from now when he might be contemplating a political affair with Nancy Pelosi.
Wall Street Journal editors, time for your meds.
These opinion pieces overlook two realities: Trump remains popular among Republicans and Americans hate everyone else more than they dislike Trump.
Someone should wake up Danforth from his nap and share the following facts with him:
- Over a year ago, Trump won the Republican presidential nomination by beating out 16 other candidates with extensive experience in government and the private sector;
- Republicans are 5-0 in special elections since Inauguration Day;
- The Republican National Committee is raking in records amount of cash—including small donations—and outpacing the Democrats in fundraising by a 2-1 margin. A Republican spokesman told CBS News the national party has raised more money in the first six months of 2017 then it has in any previous year except for 2008, and the reason is “strong grassroots support for President Trump.” The RNC has $47 million cash-on-hand, compared to the DNC’s $7 million (and $3.4 million in debt);
- The Cook Political Report just moved four 2018 Senate races in the GOP’s direction: Democratic incumbents in North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia are at risk of losing their seats to Republican challengers;
- Even during a horrific week when the media and some top Republicans relentlessly attacked Trump for his response to the violence in Charlottesville, 80 percent of Republicans approve of his job performance. And a huge margin—88 percent—agree with Trump that references or statues honoring Thomas Jefferson and George Washington should not be removed. At the same time, nearly every poll shows a majority of Americans do not think Confederate monuments or statues should be taken down, either. Statues, in other words, simply aren’t the problem that the press, disingenuous politicians, and a handful of iconoclasts want them to be.
As far as how people view the GOP in Congress—and pretty much anyone else in national politics—everyone is worse off than Trump. Incredibly, only 16 percent of Republicans approve of the job the Republican Congress is doing.
Most congressional leaders could only hope to have Trump’s favorable ratings. A Rasmussen poll shows Mitch McConnell with a 20 percent approval rating; Paul Ryan isn’t far behind with 30 percent. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have a 36 percent job approval rating. Republicans mostly blame the GOP Congress for Trump’s inability to get much done legislatively; 56 percent of Republicans say Congress is getting in the way of Trump’s agenda and only 13 percent of Republicans say they are helping the president.
In other words, if Trump divorces the Republican Congress, he’s getting the kids.
Few would argue that Trump doesn’t need some work on his approach and even some assistance on the details. But everyone else needs a lot more. Exhuming Republicans fossils to blather about unity or taking seriously the idea that Republicans should abandon the president over a debt ceiling increase are colossal wastes of time. Meanwhile, the Washington-Manhattan bunker’s tone-deafness about Trump and his supporters goes on and on.