Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump is toxic for the GOP but Congressional Republicans remain silent

Joe Scarborough says the GOP “is a dying party that I can no longer defend.” Who is the perp? He fingers POTUS in Trump is killing the Republican Party.

I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left its senses. The political movement that once stood athwart history resisting bloated government and military adventurism has been reduced to an amalgam of talk-radio resentments. President Trump’s Republicans have devolved into a party without a cause, dominated by a leader hopelessly ill-informed about the basics of conservatism, U.S. history and the Constitution.

America’s first Republican president reportedly said , “Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The current Republican president and the party he controls were granted monopoly power over Washington in November and already find themselves spectacularly failing Abraham Lincoln’s character exam.

The GOP president questioned America’s constitutional system of checks and balances. Republican leaders said nothing. He echoed Stalin and Mao by calling the free press “the enemy of the people.” Republican leaders were silent. And as the commander in chief insulted allies while embracing autocratic thugs, Republicans who spent a decade supporting wars of choice remained quiet. Meanwhile, their budget-busting proposals demonstrate a fiscal recklessness very much in line with the Bush years.

The nexus of those things define modern American conservatism.

Approval ratings
Presidential approval/disapproval ratings

There is reason to believe that Trump is indeed toxic for the GOP. Steve Benen (Washington Post/MaddowBlog) provides graphic evidence of how low Trump’s approval ratings have fallen but Trump sees his historically awful public standing as ‘not bad’.

Common sense suggests a political leader and his team, faced with this data, would start considering some kind of course correction. After all, there’s quantitative evidence that most Americans just aren’t buying what this president is selling.

But that won’t happen – because as far as Trump is concerned, being historically unpopular “is not bad.”

Congressional Republicans, most of whom will face voters two years before the president will, should feel quite a bit of anxiety about such a posture.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin reports Trump is failing faster than any president in her Washington Post “right turn” blog and lists the numbers.

The Post reports, “Approaching six months in office, [President] Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. His disapproval rating has risen five points to 58 percent. Overall, 48 percent say they ‘disapprove strongly’ of Trump’s performance in office, a level never reached by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and reached only in the second term of George W. Bush in Post-ABC polling.”

… the poll finds that “no more than 1 in 4 Americans believe passionately in him or his presidency at this juncture… . Trump’s disapproval rating has risen to 58 percent in the national survey, which was conducted last Monday through Thursday. Overall, 48 percent disapprove strongly of how he’s doing. But *while 36 percent approve of Trump overall, only 25 percent approve strongly.*”

Trump’s most loyal base remains white evangelicals, who still back him by a 61 percent to 35 percent margin. Apparently, an unhinged, ignorant president with a soft spot for America’s most formidable international foe has endeared himself to a group that touts its defense of American “values.” One could say Trump’s unbridled hatred for the media (urban elites more generally), his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and his vitriolic aversion to immigration are sufficient to keep these voters’ affection.

And then there is this startling tidbit.

… The party that claimed victory in the Cold War and ridiculed the Obama team’s efforts at Russian reset denies it is even troubled by the fact that “Trump’s son, Donald Jr.; his son-in-law Jared Kushner; and his campaign manager Paul Manafort met last summer with a Russian lawyer who said she had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” A 48 percent plurality of Republicans think this was appropriate.

While it’s troubling to the rest of Americans that about 35 percent of Americans are sticking with this president and even more distressing that they’d approve of his team’s consorting with Russian officials, the good news for the country is that Trump — who got 46 percent in the general election — has lost more than 20 percent of his support in just six months. In short, the true believers won’t be converted, but they can be soundly defeated at the polls.

Yes, but the fact that 25% strongly approve of Trump was heralded this noon on MSNBC as “good news” for Trump. I think that’s bad news for the nation for what we might imagine is in (or not in) the heads of those in the 25%.

However, if these numbers hold through 2018, Trump and his policies could very well take down the GOP and turn Congress and state legislatures Democratic. In spite of the risks posed by Trump, the silence of Congressional Republicans is deafening. But, what the heck, it’s their party at risk.

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