How Trump Survives

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal polled his job approval. There was no appreciable change.

.. Why? The most important reason has to be the remarkable state of the American economy. On Election Day 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,332.43. On August 29, it closed at 26,124.57. That is an increase of some 40 percent. Other indices show similar gains. Growth in GDP went from 1.5 percent in 2016 to 2.3 percent in 2017 and, helped by the excellent 4.2 percent number in the second quarter, is forecast for around 3 percent in 2018.

.. The fact that presidents are not responsible for the economy does not stop the public from assigning them blame or credit. And Trump deserves some credit. His pro-business attitude stirs the bulls’ animal spirits. His deregulatory and tax policies contribute to growth. Trump understands that he is riding the bull — and that his following will be strong for the duration of the journey.

.. The economic boom is crucial in understanding why Trump enjoys the 88 percent approval among Republicans that keeps him politically viable.
.. Trump continues to goad, highlight, and benefit from an antagonistic news media. The overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump paradoxically works to his advantage by driving his supporters to rally to his side. When the press gets a story wrong, Trump is vindicated. His voters have less reason to trust the elite media institutions they see as allied against them in a struggle over American identity.
.. Media obsession with Trump and scandal helps the president in other ways. For one, the scandals are confusing and increasingly self-referential. Only political professionals and junkies can keep track of them. The headlines run together. The talking heads are background noise to men and women outside the bubble.
.. The media fixation hands Trump the initiative. Because so much of the news is based on his Twitter feed, he can create storylines — and spark confusion and outrage — with the push of a button. This ability lets him shift attention from current controversies by creating fresh ones. The ongoing hysteria lessens the cost to Trump of each bad story. It also allows him to portray media institutions and figures as insiders contemptuous of Trump voters and eager to overturn the result of a presidential election.

Democrats — and most Republicans for that matter — have yet to grasp the ideas of political economy that Trump intuits: government that privileges American citizens through

  • tight labor markets,
  • border security,
  • trade reciprocity, and
  • entitlements.

.. Nor do Democrats understand that American populism is not simply economic. It is cultural. It has long been associated with traditional values and practices, an unreconstructed patriotism, and support for law and order. No matter how well Democratic proposals might test, the party will not succeed at the national level unless it addresses and mollifies the social concerns of the white working class. Pelosi, Schumer, and Sanders have not tried.

A Post-Trump World?

Yet what might happen should Trump be removed from office, either by impeachment leading to conviction or resignation or by federal indictment from Robert Mueller?

Given the evidence so far, the results could be civil chaos, and for a variety of reasons:

.. we have never threatened any president with impeachment primarily for purported wrongdoing before he took office... Had we done so, every president from Dwight Eisenhower (who avoided $400,000 in taxes by finagling a one-time government ruling to declare the huge royalties on his memoir as “capital gains” rather than income) to Barack Obama (who, well aside from Tony Rezko’s “gift,” faced campaign violations involving nearly $1.8 million in improper 2008 contributions that earned a $375,000 fine) would have faced non-stop legal hounding while in office. Harry Truman would have been impeached his first year, had a special prosecutor reviewed his long relationships of years past with the criminal syndicate run by Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast. In 1963, a Mueller-like special counsel would still have been ferreting out all the election tampering during the 1960 election and its relationship to JFK.

.. none of which justifies the allegations that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors while in office.

.. on social issues or religious agendas, they might find Pence more unpalatable — and yet far harder to defame.

.. Nonetheless, do not expect the Left to cease its hysteria should Trump disappear; it would simply recalibrate and refocus on Pence. The effort would be to repeat the Trump-demonization formula of trying to leverage some sort of legal infraction into a melodramatic felony to discredit an opposition president — perhaps in the manner the Left is now seeking to turn the upright Brett Kavanaugh into a veritable monster. Getting Trump would likely only whet the appetite to go after his successor.

.. The base not only has little allegiance to the Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce view of the world on trade, immigration, and manufacturing, but could either sit out or oppose any election that returns the party to the orthodox ideology of the recent past.

The Trump base will see a Trump removal as a Deep State/elite-bluestocking effort to nullify an election. With long memories, they will be far less likely to vote Republican at the national level. We should remember that conservatives have maligned Trump voters as much as has the Left, from “crazies” to what Eliot Cohen recently referred to as a “peasant revolt.”

.. The base not only has little allegiance to the Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce view of the world on trade, immigration, and manufacturing, but could either sit out or oppose any election that returns the party to the orthodox ideology of the recent past.

The Trump base will see a Trump removal as a Deep State/elite-bluestocking effort to nullify an election. With long memories, they will be far less likely to vote Republican at the national level. We should remember that conservatives have maligned Trump voters as much as has the Left, from “crazies” to what Eliot Cohen recently referred to as a “peasant revolt.”

.. A Trump abdication of some sort would alienate current Trump voters from the Republican party for a generation.

Trump’s words don’t buy dinner

One reason class is receding in our public debates: The Trump years have, so far at least, done little for wage earners. Indeed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real hourly wages overall droppedbetween July 2017 and July 2018, and they dropped for mid-wage workers, too. This is not at all the “winning” Trump promised.

.. one of the scammiest parts of Trump’s politics is that he talks like a labor leader but governs like a corporate lobbyist. His tax cut showered benefits on the wealthiest segments of society and produced deficits so massive that Republicans are now proffering cuts in social benefits that go in significant part to — yes, the working class.
.. But the tentative provisions regarding wages and a dispute resolution system that had previously tilted sharply toward the interests of investors do appear to be real improvements from the perspective of workers.
.. The core of Trump’s ideology, such as it is, has never been about class; his passion has always been for race, culture and immigration. Many post-election studies suggested that Trump’s voters were much more energized by these issues than by economics. Watch the typical Trump stump speech, and you will find that fear-mongering smothers any uplift and that falsehoods about immigrants outnumber truths about the challenges to middle-class living standards.

.. while 8.6 percent of white workers were paid poverty wages in 2017, the figures were 19.2 percent for Hispanic workers and 14.3 percent for African American workers.

Mollie Tibbetts’s dad: Don’t use her death to push ‘views she believed were profoundly racist’

“I encourage the debate on immigration; there is great merit in its reasonable outcome,” her father, Rob Tibbetts, wrote in an opinion column in the Des Moines Register. “But do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist.”

Rob Tibbetts said his family still needs time to mourn, and he asked for continued privacy. But he said he felt compelled to speak because politicians were using his daughter’s name to promote views that she would be opposed to, actions he called “heartless,” “despicable” and “shameless.” The piece expanded on some of the comments he made at his daughter’s funeral defending the Hispanic community.

“My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons — Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren — are Latino,” Rob Tibbetts wrote in the piece, which ran a day after a column by Donald Trump Jr. in the same publication. ” . . . To knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag.”