Thursday, January 10, 2019

Senate Republicans unite behind Trump on shutdown. Public opinion is a different matter, running 2 to 1 against Trump.

Usually I am 100% in agreement with Rachel Maddow’s blog author, Steve Benen. But on the matter of “cracks” in the Republican front defending the Trump-way-or-no-way, I have to take exception. In this post-oval-office-speech post (As shutdown drags on, more cracks emerge in the Republicans’ wall), Benen said:

Schumer and Pelosi effectively extended an invitation to more Republicans to get on board with their obvious solution that would end the shutdown. Unfortunately for Trump, a growing number of GOP members are accepting that invitation.

Part of the problem for the president and his team is in the House, where Republican agita is clearly growing. In fact, Politico reported this week, “Several dozen House Republicans might cross the aisle this week to vote for Democratic bills to reopen shuttered parts of the federal government, spurring the White House into a dramatic effort to stem potential GOP defections.”

But the breakdown in Republican unity is even more acute in the Senate, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in endorsing the House’s bipartisan fix. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) yesterday inched closer to the sane camp.

Really? Have we lost our memory of what Collins and Murkowski did when the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination came to a vote? My feeling was that it would not take much to get these two back in the Trumpian line-up. One commenter, reacting to Benen’s post, agreed with my sense that so-called Moderate Republicans are creatures of mythology. “Butch3919441” commented: “Can we please not fall for the act by Collins again? She’ll put on her concerned conservative face, rush in front of the cameras to vacuum up all the airtime she can, and then vote however McConnell tells her. Look at her votes on health care and the tax bill. She’s a coward and a liar.”

Sure enough. A little jaw-boning from Trump was all that it took. Trump took lunch with Senate Republicans, reports the NY Times at which he talked unity and dismissed any deal with the Dems about DACA and just about everything else.

… After his lunch with Senate Republicans, Mr. Trump declared that the party was “totally unified,” even if he faced some questions about “strategy.”

Leading up to it, though, the number of Republicans uneasy about the president’s tactics appeared to be growing. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia and the chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, had warned on Tuesday that she could potentially support reopening the government as talks continued on border security — the Democratic position.

I mean, I think I could live with that,” Ms. Capito said. She said she expected pressure from federal employees and voters in her state would only mount the longer the impasse drags on. “I’ve expressed more than a few times the frustrations with a government shutdown and how useless it is, so that pressure’s going to build,” she said.

Ms. Murkowski had vowed to confront the president on the shutdown’s effect on her state. She and other moderate Republicans entered the lunch confident that senators were coalescing around the idea that the government should be reopened, but they left disappointed, convinced that for now, the party would follow Mr. Trump perilously further into a shutdown with an uncertain end.

A handful of them, including Ms. Murkowski and Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine and James Lankford of Oklahoma, pressed Mr. Trump on the mounting burden on federal workers and related industries in their states. His response was consistent.

“I was able to raise the issues that I have with using a shutdown,” Ms. Murkowski said. “He listened and urged that we all stick together.”

We’ve heard that before, right?

Trump also met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. It did not go well reports the NY Times: Trump Storms Out of White House Meeting With Democrats on Shutdown.

President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government, escalating a confrontation that has shuttered large portions of the government for 19 days and counting.

Stunned Democrats emerged from the meeting in the White House Situation Room declaring that the president had thrown a “temper tantrum” and slammed his hands on the table before leaving with an abrupt “bye-bye.” Republicans disputed the hand slam and blamed Democratic intransigence for prolonging the standoff.

When the meeting was over, talks to reopen the government appeared to be in disarray. The contentious, brief and futile session underscored an impasse that is looking each day like an insurmountable gulf between the two sides. Mr. Trump will visit the border on Thursday in McAllen, Tex., leaving little hope of a resolution for a shutdown that will tie the longest in the nation’s history on Friday.

“It wasn’t even a high-stakes negotiation; it was a petulant president of the United States,” Ms. Pelosi said as she returned to the Capitol. “A person who would say, ‘I’ll keep government shut down for weeks, months or years unless I get my way.’”

Any other president would have taken the opportunity afforded by the Tuesday night broadcast from the Oval Office to try for some resolution. But not Trump. His speech was more notable for what he did not say. John Cassidy (New Yorker) says Trump’s Speech Was a Big Non-Event.

What was all that about? Nothing much, it turns out. After all the buildup, Donald Trump’s televised address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, the first of his Administration, was a dud. He didn’t unveil any new proposals to end the government shutdown. He didn’t offer up any meaningful new arguments for his border wall. And he didn’t declare a national emergency in an effort to circumvent opposition from congressional Democrats, which he’d been openly talking about in the previous few days.

Instead, he read a highly misleading ten-minute stump speech in which he sought to portray the wall, or a steel barrier, as a solution to a humanitarian crisis on the border rather than what it is and has been all along: the holy grail of a nativist political movement that he has nurtured and cultivated ever since he came down the escalator in Trump Tower. …

To change the narrative, he would have needed to do something much more dramatic. For instance, he could have resurrected the idea of linking border-wall funding to providing a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers; that would have given the Democrats something to consider, anyway. At the opposite extreme, he could have gone ahead and declared a national emergency, stating his intention to divert money from the Pentagon for the steel fence. The first option would have involved standing up to Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, who would be screaming “Amnesty!” The second option would have plunged Trump into yet another legal battle, and even some Republicans in the Senate might have objected.

He chose to go in neither of these directions. Consequently, he is now in the same tight spot as before—a slightly tighter one, in fact. Every day, the impact of the shutdown broadens: later this week, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss their first paycheck of 2019. At some point, public anger is sure to mount. And since Trump claimed ownership of this entire thing before it started, much of that anger seems likely to be directed at him.

So far Cassidy’s observation about public sentiment is holding true. A growing number of Americans blame Trump for shutdown: Reuters-Ipsos poll.

The national opinion poll, which ran from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, found that 51 percent of adults believe Trump “deserves most of the blame” for the shutdown, which entered its 18th day on Tuesday. That is up 4 percentage points from a similar poll that ran from Dec. 21 to 25.

Another 32 percent blame congressional Democrats for the shutdown and 7 percent blame congressional Republicans, according to the poll. Those percentages are mostly unchanged from the previous poll.

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted as the partial government shutdown reached its third week, reveals the scope of Trump’s challenge. A minority of voters agree with Trump’s description of a crisis of illegal immigration at the southern border. There’s only tepid support for the wall he wants to build there. Voters are opposed to shutting down the government to extract the funds for the wall’s construction — and more blame Trump and the GOP for the shutdown than Democrats.

Nearly half of voters, 47 percent, say Trump is mostly to blame for the shutdown, the poll shows, while another 5 percent point the finger at congressional Republicans. But just a third, 33 percent, blame Democrats in Congress.

CNN reports that The majority of Americans are against Trump on the wall and the shutdown.

The average of polls taken since the shutdown began indicate that Americans are blaming Republicans for the shutdown. In the average, about 50% think Trump is most to blame, 35% think congressional Democrats are most to blame and about 5% think congressional Republicans are most to blame.

When you combine all the numbers together, about 55% blame Republicans (either Trump or congressional Republicans) and about just 35% blame Democrats for the shutdown.

It’s getting worse for Trump, 538 reports. Trump Has Lost Ground In The Shutdown Blame Game.

Polls conducted in the first few days of the shutdown showed that between 43 percent and 47 percent of Americans blamed Trump most for the shutdown, while about a third blamed congressional Democrats. Polling data had been pretty scarce thereafter, but this week a handful of new polls gave us an updated view of who Americans think is responsible. (We’re looking only at data from pollsters who have conducted two surveys since the shutdown started — one just after it began and one after the new year. This makes for nice apples-to-apples comparisons.)

The two YouGov polls found a 4-point increase in those blaming Trump. There was a 4-point increase among registered voters who most blamed Trump in the two Morning Consult polls. And surveys from Reuters/Ipsos also found a 4-point increase.

As for where Democrats stand in the blame-game, Morning Consult found a 2-point increase in those who blame them the most between their two polls, while Ipsos/Reuters found a 1-point drop and YouGov found a 3-point drop.

538 concludes that “the shutdown appears to be hurting Trump. His job approval rating has edged down in the past three weeks — a trend that lines up almost perfectly on the calendar with the shutdown.”

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