For Democrats, Shutdown Success Also Brings Danger

Stick around Washington long enough and you will learn a simple rule: Success also brings risk. Danger comes calling when the winning side in a political fight either overreaches in its hour of triumph or fails to turn newly won political capital into something useful.

This is the risk for Democrats right now. There is no doubt they won—convincingly—in their showdown with President Trump over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the southern border. They stared down the president during a monthlong partial government shutdown, and in the end they got exactly what they were demanding: a temporary reopening of the government without providing any money for the wall.

First, they now have spent the opening period of their new control of the House of Representatives focused not on their priorities—health care in particular—but instead on Mr. Trump’s top priority, immigration.

Second, the shutdown prevented the new Democratic House leadership, and all those new House members elected last November, from starting off by demonstrating they can govern effectively.

..  A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that positive feelings about the Democratic party fell to 35% this month from 39% in December. That means the share of Americans who have positive feelings about Democrats is essentially no different from the 34% who have positive

The Trump-Bannon Rift: What Are the Implications?

The president’s lawyers had been pushing a narrative that the Russia investigation would fizzle out.

That seems hard to maintain, given that one of the president’s closest advisors alleges treasonous activity behavior by Don Jr, Manafort, and Jared Kushner, which the president likely knew about.

You now have 3 factions within the Republican Party:

  1. Trump
  2. Bannon
  3. Establishment

Donald Trump, the President Without a Party

Estrangement from Republican leaders clouds the White House’s agenda

With virtually no Republican votes to spare in the Senate, where his agenda hangs in the balance, he has nonetheless become estranged from two key figures in his own party. First it was John McCain of Arizona, over his defiance of the president on health care. Next it was Bob Corker of Tennessee
.. Mr. McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Mr. Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Thus, the president is alienated from the two most important Senate figures on national security at a time when two critical national-security issues are coming to a boil: the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran and the increasingly dangerous standoff with North Korea.
.. “Bannon’s current obsession is to blow up Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Senate incumbents whom he regards as hostile to his brand of nationalism.”
..  Mr. Trump would like to lead, and Mr. Bannon would like to create, a Republican Party different from the one that exists. It would be a party molded in the Trump image: nationalist, skeptical of immigration and trade agreements, dubious about the virtues of diplomacy and international negotiations, with economic strategies skewed to help workers in traditional American industries.
.. wants the GOP to be the party “of the American worker.”
.. The current version of the GOP was built largely by merging the interests of the business community with the agenda of social conservatives. Neither of those groups would win top billing in the vision for a new, Trump-inspired party.
..  it isn’t at all clear that such a new Republican Party would, in fact, be a majority party. 
.. The current party has just 52 members in the Senate, and, as noted, Mr. Trump doesn’t have the loyal support of all of them. Mr. Bannon and his allies are threatening to challenge other Republican incumbents in primary elections next year, which won’t exactly keep those targeted at his side.

Civil Discourse in Decline: Where Does It End?

The shift away from politeness, decorum and respect is real—and its consequences visible every day

Republican congressional candidate body slams a reporter. A Democratic party state chairman hurls obscenities at both the president and dissidents in his own party at a public meeting.

Speakers are chased off college campuses by those who disagree with them. Lawmakers in both parties find they can barely hold town hall meetings in their own districts because they are so likely to be shouted down by hecklers. Social media has become a forum where insults are the norm and outright threats not uncommon.

Such is the state of (un)civil discourse in America today.

.. Athletes ostentatiously celebrate their achievements—even the most routine ones—by mocking their opponents. It used to be called bad sportsmanship. It’s now normal.

.. President Donald Trump has to shoulder a lot of the blame. He ran a campaign in which publicly insulting his opponents—“Lyin’ Ted Cruz” and “Crooked Hillary”—was a regular occurrence. He introduced obscenities to public rallies, at one point saying he would bomb the “s— out of” Islamic State.

.. But now it isn’t just Mr. Trump. In their new “resistance” mode, Democrats have become just as nasty.

.. “I’m told by politicians that it doesn’t help you to be civil. You want to appeal to your base and to fire them up and all that. I understand that. But at some point, some leaders are going to have to rise above and show us a different way and call us on these things.”