Why Trump has spared Pelosi from his personal vitriol — so far

The president genuinely respects the incoming speaker, and needs her if he’s going to get anything done in the next two years. But the government shutdown is about to test his restraint.

When President Donald Trump took to Twitter last weekend to blame Democrats for the government shutdown, he notably bypassed his party’s favorite foil: Nancy Pelosi.

And when Fox News teed up a chance for the president to unload on Pelosi in a New Year’s Eve interview, noting that the Democratic leader was vacationing in Hawaii during the shutdown while Trump stayed in Washington, he didn’t take the bait.

His decision so far not to go after Pelosi personally, even as his top aides have blamed her for the shutdown, hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Capitol. Pelosi’s allies have viewed Trump’s restraint toward the incoming speaker as a sign that he’s looking beyond the shutdown in hopes of notching some bipartisan wins this year — on infrastructure, perhaps, or prescription drug pricing.

Of course, Trump’s tone toward Pelosi could change on a dime given his penchant for pummeling adversaries and the likelihood Pelosi will refuse his demand for billions in border wall funding. But the relative peace between the chief lightning rods of their respective parties, at least to this point, is pretty remarkable.

Trump’s allies told POLITICO his tack represents not some grand negotiating strategy but a sign of genuine regard for her.

“I think the president respects Nancy Pelosi and understands that she represents voters that would never vote for him but also that if she’s serious about getting things done, he’s willing to really negotiate in good faith with her,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump confidant on Capitol Hill. The president, he added, views her as a “worthy adversary.”

Added Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), “His base is not enough to get him reelected. The American people want to see him get something done. And he needs Nancy Pelosi to get things done.”

Though she, too, has avoided public name-calling, it’s clear Pelosi doesn’t feel the same admiration for Trump. After a recent meeting at the White House, Pelosi returned to the Hill and questioned his manhood before a room full of House Democrats. She likened negotiating with him to getting sprayed by a skunk, and expressed exasperation that he is even president.

Pelosi’s allies say she doesn’t trust him, pointing to

  • a tentative immigration compromise they reached in 2017 that she believes Trump backed out of. She’s noticed how
  • he’s blamed Republican congressional leaders when his base decries spending bills, and
  • upended their legislative plans with surprise tweets.

“Speaker Pelosi has a history of bipartisan accomplishments. … But the test for this president is figuring where he stands on issues from one day to the next,” said Nadeam Elshami, Pelosi’s former chief of staff.

Pelosi is also uncomfortable with Trump’s handling of facts — a big obstacle, in her mind, to cutting deals with him — and has occasionally called him out. During their first meeting after his inauguration, when Trump opened the gathering by bragging that he’d won more votes than Hillary Clinton, Pelosi was the only person in the room to correct him, noting that his statement was false and he’d lost the popular vote.

Since then, Pelosi has tried to correct Trump privately, her allies say. She doesn’t like fighting in public, they added, and it was one of the main reasons she tried, in vain, to end the sparring match over border wall funding that unfolded on TV live from the West Wing last month.

Sources close to Pelosi say she’s willing to work with Trump despite her party’s total rejection of him. Her confidants note that when Pelosi first became speaker in 2007, some Democrats were calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush over the invasion in Iraq. Pelosi ignored them and went on to strike major deals with Bush, including a bank bailout and stimulus package in response to the 2008 financial meltdown.

“They became friends,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a Pelosi confidant. For the incoming speaker, “It’s always about: Can you get things done? There are always going to be different points of view. How do we overcome them to get to a conclusion?”

Pelosi allies say as long as Trump is willing to compromise on Democratic priorities, she’ll work with him, too. But with the shutdown dragging into Pelosi’s takeover on Jan. 3, there’s a serious question about whether the two can make any headway.

On New Year’s Day, Trump and Pelosi exchanged words on Twitter over the shutdown — relatively mild ones, especially by Trump’s standards — in a sign of the tense days and weeks ahead.

“I think the president respects her and wants to work with her … Their personalities would lend themselves to strike deals,” Short said. “But I don’t know if Democrats will allow it. … She’s going to have so many members who will object to any transaction or communication with the president, that it puts her in a tight spot.”

It’s just as unclear whether Trump is willing to risk the wrath of his base by compromising with Pelosi. Just as he did on immigration, promising a “bill of love” to protect Dreamers from deportation, Trump privately told Pelosi after their contentious televised negotiation session that he wants to make a deal with her. Even after news that she’d questioned his masculinity went viral, he called her that afternoon to reiterate: We can work together to avert a shutdown.

But that was more than three weeks ago. The two haven’t spoken since.

Ezra Klein: Oval Office Circus Proves Donald Trump ‘Doesn’t Want The Wall’ | The Last Word | MSNBC

Trump’s argument with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over the wall shows he has no interest in policy, he just wants to “have fights with Democrats … on camera,” says Ezra Klein. John Heilemann and Kimberly Atkins join Lawrence.

Comment:

If Trump wanted the wall, he wouldn’t have televised the meeting.  The difference in funding is relatively small, but Trump offered nothing to trade.  If he really wanted the wall, he would have offered citizenship for the Dreamers, which could have been popular for both sides.

In the closed door session, Trump said Mexico will pay for the wall one way or the other.  He said the new Nafta will allow the government to collect money.

A reconsideration of tactics is in order.

  • They could create a proposal on 1 piece of paper, deliver it and walk out

 

A Shutdown Over Something

Legalizing Dreamers for border money would be worth the effort.

The country is yawning as Washington wrangles over another possible government shutdown this weekend, and no wonder. The fight is over a difference of merely $3.4 billion in funding for border security. If Donald Trump really wants a political fight worth having, and a chance to retrieve his public standing, he’d go much bigger and offer legalization for the Dreamers in return for his money.

At this late stage such a trade isn’t likely. Republicans who lost in November want to get out of town, and Democrats figure they’ll be in a stronger position in January when they run the House. We are left with one of those shutdown spectacles in which the rhetoric is so bitter because the stakes are so small.

.. Another possibility is to pass a continuing resolution through the new year and delay the fight until the next Congress convenes. The gambit is that the politics will be cleaner for Republicans when they can blame Democrats who will then be running the House. Yet President Trump is even less likely to prevail on border funding next year without making even larger concessions.

All of which is a reminder of Mr. Trump’s immigration lost opportunity. With his restrictionist campaign credentials, he was perfectly positioned to strike a deal that settled at least some of our immigration dilemmas.

He had leverage with Democrats on the Dreamers

.. The GOP “compromise” bill in June had $23 billion for border security, but it lost in a rout when Mr. Trump offered only diffident support. Mr. Trump was given bad advice by White House aide Stephen Miller and cable-TV scolds that immigration would be the GOP’s killer issue in the fall.

It killed Republicans all right. The summer brought the family separation fiasco, and no amount of last-minute campaign hype about the caravan from Central America could save Republicans in the suburbs. As Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen told us early last year, an immigration deal would have given him another accomplishment to tout and removed a vote-mobilizer for Democrats. Mr. Paulsen was among the 30 or so House GOP incumbents who lost.

.. Mr. Trump is in far more re-election trouble than he realizes. He has alienated suburban Republicans with the crude way he behaves, and the many legal and political investigations won’t stop until he has left office, if then. He needs to change voter perceptions. A deal on immigration would show he can solve problems that other Presidents couldn’t.

Stephen K. Bannon has won

This is the victory not only of a Trump personality cult, as it has been described, but also of an ideology, one closer to Putinism than Reaganism.

.. Back then, you may recall, some of the “crazies” — such as national security adviser Michael Flynn — had left the White House, and supposed pragmatists had taken charge: H.R. McMaster for national security, Gary Cohn for economics, Jared and Ivanka for — well, for general reasonableness.

.. There was talk of working with Democrats on infrastructure. Trump wanted to help the “dreamers,” those blameless young immigrants brought to this country as children. It seemed that existing international agreements — NATO, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Paris climate accord — might be preserved, with some face-saving adjustments. Trump was still the politician who had spoken tolerantly on LGBT issues.

..  The White House defines itself and prepares to motivate its voters by the “enemies” it constantly creates, refines and rediscovers, including African American athletes, the press (“Our Country’s biggest enemy,” in a recent Trump tweet), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (“very dishonest & weak”), and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (directing a “Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats”). Also: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Democratic leaders in the Senate and House, former FBI director James B. Comey, his own attorney general, his deputy attorney general . . . The list will never end.

.. But Bannonism is not just a snarling attitude. It encompasses a contempt for democracy and a respect for authoritarianism. When Trump refused to sign a statement of solidarity with the world’s other six leading industrial democracies and then proceeded to slather praise on North Korea’s dictator (“a tough guy . . . a very smart guy”), this was not just a sign of personal pique or favoritism: The U.S. president raised questions in the minds of other leaders about whether the concept of the West itself can survive his presidency.

.. It encompasses an “America First,” for-me-to-win-you-have-to-lose philosophy

.. It encompasses a contempt for immigrants, for outsiders of any kind. Certainly it is possible to support lower levels of immigration without being a racist. But to countenance the deliberate policy of tearing away small children from their parents that we are seeing today on the U.S.- ­Mexico border is consistent only with a worldview that deems Mexicans and Salvadorans somehow less human, less worthy, than white Americans.

..it’s no coincidence that Trump, who boasted about being the first Republican to say LGBTQ in his convention acceptance speech in 2016, has, as The Post’s James Hohmann noted last week, tried to ban transgender people from the military, removed protections for transgender inmates, employees and students, failed to acknowledge Pride Month and disbanded the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. As in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, this revival of bigotry dovetails with an effort to woo the conservative Christian establishment.

.. Finally, Bannonism encompasses contempt for the government itself.

.. his constant disparagement of the Justice Department and the FBI; his at times insultingly unsuitable appointments (such as his personal physician to head the mammoth Department of Veterans Affairs); and his generally cavalier attitude toward staffing. Even today, 17 months into his first term, fewer than half of the 667 key positions tracked by The Post in collaboration with the Partnership for Public Service are filled, and for almost 200 there are no nominees.

.. How has Bannonism prevailed without Bannon? In part, with the help of true believers who remain in the White House, including Stephen Miller (on immigration) and Peter Navarro (on trade).

.. But another answer came from Trump himself, who said after Bannon’s firing: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. . . . Steve was a staffer.”

Even discounting for Trump’s normal petulance and self-aggrandizement, there may have been an element of truth in what he said. The anti-democratic, protectionist, anti-immigrant, pro-authoritarian administration that has now taken shape, in other words, is not only Bannonism. It is raw and unvarnished Trumpism, too.

This Snake Can’t Shed His Skin

“Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the serpent with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

The woman was aghast. “You promised you could be classy enough in the Oval Office to impress socialites from Palm Beach. But instead, you are surrounded by porn stars and Playboy bunnies — just a tacky leech.”

.. “It is just like when you promised a ‘bill of love’ to save the Dreamers. But you let that collapse in Congress because of Stephen Miller and the other alt-right schemers.”

.. The woman winced at the metallic taste in her mouth and rasped: “You could have gotten your crazy wall but insisted on ending chain migration, even when you took advantage of it to bring in Melania’s Slovenian parents. What an abomination!

nn Coulter Shrugs Off ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Episode: ‘Why Don’t They Follow My Approach and Not Care?’

I promise you the writers, the actors and the producers of this TV show — they will move heaven and earth to make sure their kids don’t go to school any place near a DREAMer. Their only contact with illegal aliens is the woman who cleans their toilet whose name they don’t know. Oh, but they’re going to stand up for the illegal aliens. So much of Hollywood is just wanting to feel morally superior to conservatives and particularly to Trump voters.”

On Trump’s First Anniversary, a Government Shutdown

a vote on a Republican spending bill that would have kept the government open for another month.

.. with four of their own members voting against the party line. (The dissidents were Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. The ailing John McCain was absent.)

.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, immediately put out a statement that included the alliterative framing Republicans had been using for days, but also included some  uniquely Trumpian language. “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” it said. “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.

.. Schumer, had a new twist to offer, in the form of an account of his ninety-minute meeting with Trump, who fashions himself as the great dealmaker. During that meeting, Schumer said, he outlined a possible deal in which the Democrats would agree to finance Trump’s wall across the Mexican border as part of a package that also included extending legal protections for the Dreamers, funding the chip health-care program, and boosting the budget for military and domestic spending.

.. But even though Trump had seemed to be open to this idea, Schumer said the President “did not press his party in Congress to accept it.”

.. “What happened to the President who asked us to come out with a deal and promised he’d take heat for it? What happened to that President? He backed off at the first sign of pressure,” Schumer said. “The same chaos, the same disarray, the same division and discord on the Republican side that’s been in the background of these negotiations for months unfortunately appears endemic.”

.. “Now all of this problem is because Republican leadership can’t get to yes, because President Trump refuses to. Mr. President, President Trump, if you are listening, I am urging you: please take yes for an answer.”

.. there were also unconfirmed reports that, during the final discussions, the Democrats had proposed a temporary spending patch that would expire on January 29th, the day before the State of the Union.

.. Some Democrats simply don’t believe that the Republicans are genuinely willing to make an agreement to protect the Dreamers. That’s a big reason they are insisting on getting one nailed down now, when, at least in their estimation, Trump’s reversals and “shithole” comments have given them maximum leverage.

.. Some Republicans, on the other hand, appear to believe that they will benefit politically from an extended shutdown, because the public will hold the Democrats responsible.

 ..  he was distinctly nonplussed at the prospect of staying in Washington and missing his anniversary party down in Florida.