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Trump Bites the Beltway Back

As Donald Trump enters the third year of his presidency, he is finally breaking free of the Beltway stranglehold and moving towards fulfilling the campaign promises that unambiguously distinguished him from the 16 candidates he defeated in the Republican primaries.

Trump has called for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria. He is contemplating major troop reductions in Afghanistan. He is in the midst of a major fight over immigration at home—one he had previously avoided—and is battling China on trade abroad. When Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned, Trump moved up Mattis’s departure date and told a reporter he “essentially” fired Washington’s favorite Cabinet official. He is poised to deliver a major televised address defending his proposed border wall and making the case that the status quo constitutes a national emergency.

“When they say I’m not popular in Europe, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job,” Trump said defiantly. “I shouldn’t be popular in Europe. I don’t care about Europe. I’m not elected by Europeans. I’m elected by Americans.”

This is not to say that Trump has been a conventional president up until now. In style, he’s been radically different from day one. Instead of becoming boringly presidential, as he at times hinted he might [1] on the campaign trail, he continued smashing political norms from the White House. He launched sharply personal attacks on political opponents that no other modern president would have dared in public. He tweeted with reckless abandon. He fired subordinates—when they did not quit first—like a dog [2].

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After quoting son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner as saying Trump “would bend, and possibly break, the office to his will,” The New York Times concluded [3] that he “has arguably wrestled the presidency to a draw.” This was written at the end of Trump’s first year.

In substance, however, Trump has been a fairly conventional Republican president: a tax cut, deregulation, conservative judges, pro-life executive orders, countermeasures against Russia, punitive military strikes against Syria following chemical weapons attacks, a troop surge in Afghanistan, a hard line on Iran, speeches to friendly crowds of religious conservatives and gun rights activists. (The deficits, alas, are typical too.) He was more restrictive on immigration—the travel ban affecting a half dozen or so of the 50 Muslim-majority countries came early—and more protectionist on trade, but hardly the second coming of Pat Buchanan.

Critics on the Left and Right began to question whether there was such a thing as “Trumpism” [4] distinct from the normal Republican platform. Instead of leading with uniquely Trumpian initiatives on infrastructure or trade, Trump sought Obamacare repeal and a lower corporate tax rate while letting “Infrastructure Week” become a joke [5].

The populists who reinforced Trump’s “America First” instincts—always at a disadvantage relative to the GOP establishment and movement conservatives in Washington—were quickly sidelined. While immigration hardliners remained, the foreign policy team bore a striking resemblance to the George W. Bush inner circle that gave us the Iraq war, a costly misadventure Trump described as a “big, fat mistake.”

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There were always signs that Trump would eventually chafe under the constraints his aides imposed on him. Efforts to convince him that “border adjustment [6]” was superior to tariffs in accomplishing his trade goals failed. He overrode key advisors (even Jared and Ivanka) on the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He publicly chastised Republican senators for breaking their promises. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman reported last year that Trump was feeling more comfortable in the job, trusting his own judgment more.

One need not agree with all these policies—I think Trump is wrong on tariffs and Iran—to sense a pattern. The supposedly impulsive Trump deferred for months, even years, to the likes of Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, and a host of others. What he got was a continuing quagmire in Afghanistan, legislative inaction after the tax cut, and defeat in the midterm elections. The donor class still had more to show for unified Republican government than the Trump-friendly working class.

Bob Woodward’s insidery book about the Trump administration cast the president’s eminently sensible questions about the human costs of our wars and how long they must last as akin to bogus inaugural crowd size numbers. Lindsey Graham is portrayed as one of the good guys for telling Trump: “It never ends. It’s good versus evil. Good versus evil never ends.”

In December—the month Mitt Romney not so coincidentally called a low point in his widely celebrated anti-Trump Washington Post op-ed [7]—Trump rebelled. His modest retrenchment, canceling a small unauthorized war in Syria, triggered bipartisan reaction. The guardians of cherished political norms behaved as if congressional war powers and civilian control of the military should go out the window because of Trump.

“If we lived in a lesser country than our great nation, today is the day we really would be talking about a military coup,” influential conservative commentator Erick Erickson, an on-again, off-again Never Trumper, wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Soldiers down to the enlisted ranks are raising hell about the President’s Syria decision.”

“Syria is crumbling. And we’re talking about a fucking wall,” a Republican senator fumed [8] to Politico. Whatever the limitations of a border wall or Trump’s government shutdown strategy, the mentality that Syria takes precedence over American border security—indeed, that we can do more to keep Americans safe by securing Syria rather than our own border or nation-building in Afghanistan rather than fence-building at home—remains strong inside the GOP. Trump has channeled the rank-and-file’s nationalist mood [9] but has few reinforcements in Washington.

Trump has generally kept his military actions in Iraq and Syria focused on the strain of radical Islam most responsible for terrorist attacks against Americans rather than getting sidetracked by regime change, in contrast with the last Republican president who diverted resources from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein. Now he is even beginning to sound less reflexively hawkish [10] against Iran.

There are many reasons why Trump’s renewed focus on his distinctive campaign promises may be too little, too late. Democrats now control the House. They have no incentive to hand him any victories ahead of 2020, even—perhaps especially—on issues where they agree. They will be ramping up their investigations of the president and his administration. Alienating Senate Republicans, who, with the significant exception of Rand Paul, are often closer to Romney than Trump on many of these questions, will prove costly if (when?) impeachment is pursued. Russia, possible campaign finance violations [11], and the rest of special counsel Robert Mueller’s handiwork loom large.

So too do Trump’s limitations—in personnel, legislative deal-making, persuading Americans beyond his base. Trump’s defense [12] of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for example, is both bad history and a terrible argument to make while trying to extricate U.S. forces from a similarly doomed imperial exercise. His reluctance to consider [13] appointees who better reflect [14] the foreign policy he ran on than John Bolton is already making it harder for him [15] to follow through.

This dilemma has been highlighted by two of my TAC predecessors. Robert Merry argues convincingly [16] that Trump has gotten in his own way to the detriment of his presidency, while Daniel McCarthy contends [17] that Trump’s downsides are difficult to separate from his upsides.

“As for tweeting and tough-talk, it’s hard not to see a connection between the determination to say what he likes—however crude it may be—and the spirit necessary to defy the elite consensus in practice,” McCarthy writes. “Rhetorical excess is a small price to pay if it comes with the strength to say ‘no’ to the next war.”

Frustrated conservatives once said of the 40th president, “Let Reagan be Reagan,” which prompted the columnist Joe Sobran and others to shoot back, “Let somebody else be Reagan.” Now there is a similar battle cry: “Let Trump be Trump [18].” But there doesn’t seem to be “somebody else” this time around. Trump’s likeliest Republican successors at the moment are Mike Pence, who is not fully on board with his populist-nationalist revision of movement conservatism, and Nikki Haley, who largely opposes it.

Trump’s sudden interest in the “Trumpier” parts of his agenda may have come too late in his polarizing presidency or too early for there to exist a political network capable of helping him succeed. Still, there is no time like the present.

W. James Antle III is editor of The American Conservative.

30 Comments (Open | Close)

30 Comments To "Trump Bites the Beltway Back"

#1 Comment By PAX On January 7, 2019 @ 9:50 pm

Better late than never. I hope he does not listen too closely to Jarod Kushner on foreign policy. The wall and getting out of neocon ignited wars should be his first and last order of business. Build the economy and domestic infrastructure.

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On January 7, 2019 @ 11:58 pm

Why not just print a condensed version of this article and write: Trump reneged on most of his promises when he had Congress and momentum on his side [such as health legislation, immigration reform, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan], so please accept our apologies and excuses, and blame the rest on the myth of Deep State and the Establishment. We promise to do better after 2020.

Thank you –

#3 Comment By Stephen J. On January 8, 2019 @ 8:50 am

The writer states: “Trump has called for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria.”
See article at link below.
———————-
Bolton: Trump’s Wrong – We’re Not Leaving Syria!
[with video]

written by daniel mcadams
monday january 7, 2019

Who’s in charge here? President Trump clearly states that US troops would quickly exit Syria and immediately the president’s advisors tell the world he’s only kidding. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Advisor Bolton went even further than that: they are touring the Middle East assuring everyone who will listen that there is no way Trump’s policy will be implemented. Insubordination? Tune in to today’s Liberty Report:…

[more at link below]

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#4 Comment By Stephen J. On January 8, 2019 @ 9:01 am

Another article of interest below
whose in charge and running the show?
——————————
Bolton Puts Conditions on Syria Withdrawal, Suggesting a Delay of Months or Years

By David E. Sanger, Noah Weiland and Eric Schmitt

Jan. 6, 2019
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#5 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On January 8, 2019 @ 9:05 am

“Syria is crumbling. And we’re talking about a f*cking wall,”

“The US border is crumbling. And we’re talking about f*cking Syria.”

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2019 @ 9:23 am

It is not an uncommon understanding that new leaders do very little to make changes when coming into the position. That they and their new staff need time to adjust one to the other. In my view, despite the Sword of Damoclese card (SP), 6 months to a year had been long enough.

It was obvious going in, that no matter what this president did he was never going to be embraced by most of those in Washington. I am of the mind he gave up too much too soon.

We can support Israel by being in Israel and other friendly states. We don’t have be meddling to overthrow Syria or Iran –

___________________________

What I think is telling is that our military leadership is so engrossed in strategic politics that they don’t have an effective strategy for military success. The unwillingness to honestly state we need several hundred thousand troops in Iraq to control the country to meet our agenda or the same in Afghanistan is telling.

I don’t have any issues with them saving but I am confused how they have been unable to explain why we need to overthrow Syria, Iran or anyone else to defend Israel. And at the same time our politics has only managed to accelerate the very issues we sought to squelch.

#7 Comment By Sid Finster On January 8, 2019 @ 9:35 am

By setting “conditions” that will never be met, the United States is not leaving Syria.

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For those who balk at RT, dozens of MSM outlets have reported the same thing.

After Trump bowed down to the War Party twice already on Syria alone, the only thing here that amazes me is that anyone believed that this time Trump would find a backbone.

Time to face facts. Just as Obama cultists spent eight years making excuse after excuse for the man, the Trump that you voted for is not going to show up, not on Syria or anything else, not now not ever.

#8 Comment By sglover On January 8, 2019 @ 10:46 am

TAC continues its move into comedy with yet another by-the-numbers Antle piece.

It’s always hilarious when Antle and his clones yammer on about how this week’s right-wing hero is “taking on” the “Beltway establishment”. Creatures like Antle and Buchanan have spent their entire “working” lives wallowing in the Beltway-centered right-wing welfare trough. Would they even be employable, outside that weird world?

#9 Comment By phree On January 8, 2019 @ 11:31 am

Yes, it’s too late. It’s too late because Trump lies so much even those who share his goals can’t trust anything he says. This speech tonight will be a doozy. If he’s stupid enough to try to declare a bogus emergency to build the wall . . . well, it will get even uglier. #fakeemergency

#10 Comment By One Guy On January 8, 2019 @ 1:28 pm

Trump is losing his base because, “He isn’t hurting the people he’s supposed to be hurting”.

Yes, it’s too late.

#11 Comment By polistra On January 8, 2019 @ 1:49 pm

Taking risks? Where? So far nothing different has HAPPENED. No action has been taken. Just louder pointless noise.

#12 Comment By CLW On January 8, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

Trump’s failure was entirely predictable, as Antle surely knows, but it provides a convenient excuse for more of tired, pointless scapegoating of the establishment, big government, et al Antle excels at.

Only a fool would have believed Trump’s anti-establishment, America First rhetoric on the campaign trail would ever translate into an innovative, responsible, and productive approach to how the U.S. engages with the world.

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 8, 2019 @ 2:10 pm

Whine Merchant says (Jan 7, 11:58 pm): “Trump reneged on most of his promises when he had Congress and momentum on his side [such as health legislation, immigration reform, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan].”

President Trump did not have “Congress…on his side” for “health legislation, immigration reform, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.

President Trump did, indeed, have a Republican majority in both in the House and the Senate, but the Republican Establishment in both chambers of Congress effectively blocked Trump-backed “health legislation, immigration reform, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.”

Trump didn’t renege on health, immigration, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan. Establishment Republicans stabbed him in the back. It is for that reason that we’re now in seeing Establishment Republicans being pushed out of the Republican Party.

#14 Comment By sglover On January 8, 2019 @ 3:46 pm

Trump didn’t renege on health, immigration, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan. Establishment Republicans stabbed him in the back.

It’s already pretty clear that (as predicted by me, among others) the Syria “withdrawal” is a classic Trump bait-and-switch. But it’s delightful to see right-wingers trotting out the time-tested Dolchstoßlegende, just like they did about a century ago. People say the Trump cultists are just a pack of ignorant bootlicking nihilists, but in this we see they have some sense of tradition.

#15 Comment By Sid Finster On January 8, 2019 @ 4:31 pm

Kurt Gayle recites the same excuses Obama cultists give for his inability to enact any meaningful reform in 2008-10, in spite of having something close to one-party rule.

In both cases, neither Trump nor Obama tried any serious reform. However, both fought hard for the things they really wanted, like more deficits and tax cuts for billionaires in Trump’s case. Like extension of the Patriot Act in Obama’s case.

#16 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2019 @ 5:35 pm

” It is for that reason that we’re now in seeing Establishment Republicans being pushed out of the Republican Party.”

That might be welcome, if they were replaced in Congress by anyone other than democrats. however, you are correct aside from tax cuts, deregulation, and nominees — the Republicans for the most part have opposed to this president.

And that was unfortunate.

The war such as it is has almost entirely domestic.

#17 Comment By Gene Smolko On January 8, 2019 @ 8:29 pm

Anti-establishment is good, but Trump is not anti-establishment

Trump is anti-American democracy. He does not care about protecting American democracy and the Constitution. All he cares about is his own prestige and getting done what he wants done, and he will undermine any democratic principle to do it.

#18 Comment By David Terry On January 8, 2019 @ 8:57 pm

Trump’s biggest error – he thought he could actually be a two-term president.

He ought to have accepted the reality he was more than likely a one-termer and gone for broke from the very start. It’s true that many folks simply didn’t want to work for the administration, even those inclined to support his policies. But I’m not sure he informed himself particularly well of where many of his eventual appointees stood in relation to his views.

Trump’s presidency will be remembered for plenty of tactical successes, but one big strategic failure. His true legacy is what comes after – will those who support his nationalist-populist movement be able to pick up the pieces and make something more out of Trumpism?

#19 Comment By Regula On January 8, 2019 @ 11:08 pm

Trump’s true agenda requires better relations with Russia. That wasn’t possible while Russiagate went on. With Russiagate dead and Russian meddling in the elections confirmed to be the work of UK II and Statecraft organizations, the path to Trump’s own agenda is open. Hence the directive to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. The brawl with China will in the near future result in some slight modification of the status quo ante as Trump comes to terms with damage to the US economy from the tariff and sanctions war and the realization that slowing in China is slowing in the US.

The biggest enemies are Bolton and Pompeo who have their own forever war agendas. They should be fired and replaced with more realistic people. He may yet get to that as he refills some of the vacancies of those who quit.

He doesn’t have much to fear from Dem incumbents. None has the necessary charisma and widely accepted agenda needed to win against him, provided he does stop at least the two more visible wars, refuses to start any new ones and instead concentrates on infrastructure, a functioning economy and a genuine healthcare. Beyond that he should give some attention to education and the student loan bubble that still may burst due to the trade war slowing of the economy.

#20 Comment By Luke On January 9, 2019 @ 10:59 am

“Trump’s likeliest Republican successors at the moment are Mike Pence, who is not fully on board with his populist-nationalist revision of movement conservatism, and Nikki Haley, who largely opposes it.”

The kicker being that America voted for Trump’s movement and not the others. To try to go back to the future is doomed to failure. We can’t go back to what we’ve recoiled from already. DJT may not be the idea engineer of that movement, but he’s the only one at this point in time. Let not the perfect be the enemy of the better.

#21 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2019 @ 11:04 am

sglover (Jan 8, 3:46 pm) quotes me: “Trump didn’t renege on health, immigration, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan. Establishment Republicans stabbed him in the back.”

glover then says: “…It’s delightful to see right-wingers trotting out the time-tested Dolchstoßlegende, just like they did about a century ago.”

I looked up “Dolchstoßlegende.“ Wikipedia says this about “Dolchstoßlegende”:

“Dolchstoßlegende” “The stab-in-the-back myth (German: Dolchstoßlegende) was the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the Hohenzollern monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the ‘November Criminals.’ When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, they made the legend an integral part of their official history of the 1920s, portraying the Weimar Republic as the work of the ‘November criminals’ who stabbed the nation in the back to seize power while betraying it. The Nazi propaganda depicted Weimar as ‘a morass of corruption, degeneracy, national humiliation’…”

What does “Dolchstoßlegendez´ have to do with my saying that “Establishment Republicans stabbed [Trump] in the back” on “health, immigration, and withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan”?

”Everyone I Don’t Like is Hitler”:

#22 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2019 @ 12:24 pm

Mr. Antle points out that “[President Trump’s] reluctance to consider appointees who better reflect the foreign policy he ran on than John Bolton is already making it harder for him to follow through.”

Underscoring that same point, Mr. Antle posted at “The Week” (linked to in TAC’s “Of Note”) “The shameful insubordination of John Bolton”:

“Putting someone like Bolton in charge of winding down a war is like appointing an open-borders advocate to oversee building the wall… Whether it is Webb or someone else, Trump needs advisers and Cabinet secretaries who share his assessment of the limits of America’s role in the world — and believe there is only one president at a time.”

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#23 Comment By One Guy On January 9, 2019 @ 1:13 pm

Kurt Gayle’s comments demonstrate what I’ve been asking Trumpists for years: What are you going to do when Trump is gone? Trumpists hate Republicans almost as much as they hate Democrats. They aren’t going to support either major Party once Trump is out of office (one way or another). Who is going to become the new Trump? Don Jr.? Eric? Ivanka? It is to laugh.

Once Trump is gone, his staunch followers will fade into the background (the ones still alive, that is). The new POTUS will cancel out his Executive Orders, and Congress will eliminate the tax cut. Heck, SCOTUS might even increase to 11 or 13 justices. Of course, the remaining Trumpists might mail out a few pipe bombs, be careful, folks.

#24 Comment By DrivingBy On January 9, 2019 @ 1:23 pm

@Kurt ++ It’s no secret that the GOP has been mostly composed of toadies to the donor class in their district, and corporatocracy in general. Trump has done more than zero to push back. Let’s figure the ratio of Trump vs normal pols in terms of pushback against military-congressional complex slavishness.
That is (Some positive number)/0.

Ergo, Trump is infinitely better than the usual RepubliCrat insiderplayer. Ya can’t argue with math 😉

#25 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 9, 2019 @ 4:50 pm

DrivingBy says (Jan 9, 1:23 pm): “@Kurt ++ It’s no secret that the GOP has been mostly composed of toadies to the donor class in their district, and corporatocracy in general. Trump has done more than zero to push back. Let’s figure the ratio of Trump vs normal pols in terms of pushback against military-congressional complex slavishness. That is (some positive number)/0. Ergo, Trump is infinitely better than the usual RepubliCrat insiderplayer. Ya can’t argue with math.”

A couple of points: One, I know that you’re just having a bit of fun, DrivingBy, but inadvertently, in a negative way, you illustrate one of the big reasons why the Trump base likes President Trump so much. Trump always speaks in the vernacular of the common man and woman. He never makes even the least educated among us feel out of place, or small, or stupid. When we attend his rallies of see him on TV, we feel that he’s speaking directly to us – speaking about our problems – in a language that we can always understand.

Two: You raise the issue of the GOP’s being “mostly composed of toadies to the donor class” and you raise (in humorous way) “the ratio of Trump vs normal pols in terms of pushback.” From the day he was elected, Donald Trump had a target painted on his back. The Deep State, the Republican Establishment, the Democratic Establishment, the Never-Trumpers, the neocons, and the Mainstream media worked 24/7 to overturn the results of the 2016 election and to stage a coup against Trump. So, from the beginning President Trump has always been somewhat hamstrung and there have been times when “Job One” was survival. From Day One Trump has instinctively undertood that in order to live to push-back and to carry out his agenda, he needed first to survive.

Indeed, part of what we have been witnessing in these first two years of the Trump presidency is much like the first (1973) Ali-Norton fight. Ali’s jaw was broken during the fight, yet he refused to give up. After the fight, and after wiring Ali’s jaw shut, his surgeon Dr. Gary Manchester told the media, ‘It was a very bad break. The bone which was broken had three or four jagged edges. The edges kept poking into his mouth. He had so much pain during the fight that he’s totally exhausted right now’.” My dad hated Ali. But my dad was an experienced dentist and after he had learned the details of Ali’s broken jaw — and re-watched the fight on TV the following week – my dad said that seeing Ali continuing to fight, round after round — and refusing to give up, even with a such horribly broken jaw – made him think that Ali had shown “more courage as any athlete I’ve ever seen.”

#26 Comment By sglover On January 9, 2019 @ 5:45 pm

What does “Dolchstoßlegendez´ have to do with my saying that “Establishment Republicans stabbed [Trump] in the back”……..?

Ummmm…… You don’t actually mean that as a serious question, do you?!?! Jeez, professional comedians spend their entire lives yearning for a straight man like you.

Gotta say that Regula’s giving you a real run for the self-parody jackpot, though:

Trump’s true agenda requires better relations with Russia. That wasn’t possible while …. [verbiage] …. [fever dreams] … the path to Trump’s own agenda is open.

Right, the One True Trump is sure to emerge any day now, once the wreckers and backstabbers get purged! Yet somehow it’s escaped the notice of Dear Leader that….

The biggest enemies are Bolton and Pompeo who have their own forever war agendas. They should be fired and replaced with more realistic people. He may yet get to that as he refills some of the vacancies of those who quit.

Yeah, sure, ace, Trump’s gonna get right on that. Weird how Trump so often manages to hire “the best people”, only to find that within months they’ve somehow become failures or traitors. It must have something to do with atmospheric pressure, or Trump’s horoscope, or the Deep State. It certainly can’t have anything at all to do with the judgement of Dear Leader.

#27 Comment By EarlyBird On January 9, 2019 @ 6:28 pm

Here’s how he wins again, and actually accomplishes something:

– Gets us out of Syria;
– Gets us out of Afghanistan;
– Gets infrastructure bill created;
– Hangs any failure to get serious about illegal aliens around the necks of Dems, and talks about the economic costs of millions of illegals for the most poor Americans;
– Cuts corporate taxes but dramatically raises personal income taxes on the super rich.

I’m not holding my breath, but there is his path to success.

#28 Comment By Dan Green On January 10, 2019 @ 9:08 am

Deep State . Very clear. Trump will be gone soon . If not by Impeachment ,or forced resignation, with the co-ordinated support of the media, or at the Polls, for the so called Deplorable’s to repent, for their mis deeds. There is some 65 million folks who have to accept their place in society.

#29 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 11, 2019 @ 7:27 am

“What are you going to do when Trump is gone? Trumpists hate Republicans almost as much as they hate Democrats. They aren’t going to support either major Party once Trump is out of office (one way or another). Who is going to become the new Trump? Don Jr.? Eric? Ivanka? It is to laugh.”

I am not sure that these are serious questions. President Trump got elected because he represented views held by enough people. Suppose that President Trump is no longer present. The views I hold will not change because what hold to polity, to ethics, faith and practice is not dependent on president Trump.

Being in the background is wholly irrelevant.

#30 Comment By JeffK On January 11, 2019 @ 4:40 pm

Regarding when Trump is gone…. There will be Pence. I would love to be able to anonymously bet somebody $1000 that Trump does not serve out his term, and reliably collect that bet. Or pay it, if that’s how it turns out. But the main point…..

Trump, like Kurt Gayle says, has a real talent for exciting the base. Does Pence have that same talent? Does anybody? I don’t see it now, mostly because Trump is willing to tell his base whatever they want to hear. Which is mostly lies. Few so brazenly display such a lack of conscience.

When Trump is gone I suspect many Trumpers will just go dormant and seethe, until the next politician comes along that energizes them like he does. Until then, I think they will treat Pence, and most establishment Republicans, like a STD.

And who’s to say the next Trump won’t be a Democrat?