President Trump prepared for the pivotal meeting with congressional leaders by huddling with his senior team — his chief of staff, his legislative director and the heads of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — to game out various scenarios on how to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide Hurricane Harvey relief.
But one option they never considered was the that one the president ultimately chose: cutting a deal with Democratic lawmakers, to the shock and ire of his own party.
.. The president was an unpredictable — and, some would say, untrustworthy — negotiating partner with not only congressional Republicans but also with his Cabinet members and top aides.
.. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him.
.. He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself.
.. “It makes all of their normalizing and ‘Trumpsplaining’ look silly and hollow,”
.. “Trump betrays everyone:
- business associates,
- bankers and now,
- the leaders of the House and Senate in his own party.
They can’t explain this away as [a] 15-dimensional Trump chess game. It’s a dishonest person behaving according to his long-established pattern.”
.. he relished the opportunity for a bipartisan agreement and the praise he anticipated it would bring
.. On Thursday morning, he called Pelosi and Schumer to crow about coverage of the deal — “The press has been incredible,” he told Pelosi
.. The treasury secretary presented himself as a Wall Street insider, arguing that the stability of the markets required an 18-month extension.
At one point, Schumer intervened with a skeptical question: “So the markets dictate one month past the 2018 election?” he asked, rhetorically, according to someone with knowledge of his comment. “I doubt that.”
.. The Republican leaders and Mnuchin slowly began moderating their demands, moving from their initial pitch down to 12 months and then six months. At one point, when Mnuchin was in the middle of yet another explanation, the president cut him off, making it clear that he disagreed.
.. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) ..
.. “I support the president, I want him to be successful, I want our country to be successful,” Zeldin said in an interview afterward. “But I personally believe the president had more leverage than he may have realized. He had more Democratic votes than he realized, and could have and would have certainly gotten a better deal.”
.. Trump is a fickle ally and partner, liable to turn on them much in the same way he has turned on his business associates and foreign allies.
.. “Looking to the long term, trust and reliability have been essential ingredients in productive relationships between the president and Congress,” said Phil Schiliro, who served as director of legislative affairs under Obama. “Without them, trying to move a legislative agenda is like juggling on quicksand. It usually doesn’t end well.”
The Long Haul
He will, in fact, be a disaster on every front. And I think he will eventually drag the Republican Party into the abyss along with his own reputation; the question is whether he drags the rest of the country, and the world, down with him.
.. It’s at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.
.. America has a vast stock of reputational capital, built up over generations; even Trump will take some time to squander it.
.. The true awfulness of Trump will become apparent over time. Bad things will happen, and he will be clueless about how to respond; if you want a parallel, think about how Katrina revealed the hollowness of the Bush administration, and multiply by a hundred. And his promises to bring back the good old days will eventually be revealed as the lies they are.