Can GOP’s Shotgun Marriage Be Saved?
Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, 2016, Republicans awoke to learn they had won the lottery. Donald Trump had won the presidency by carrying Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. All three states had gone Democratic in the last six presidential elections.
The GOP had won both houses of Congress. Party control of governorships and state legislatures rivaled the halcyon years of the 1920s.
But not everyone was jubilant. Neocons and Never-Trumpers were appalled, and as morose as they had been since the primaries produced a populist slaughter of what GOP est class of presidential candidates in memory.
And there was this sobering fact: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Her margin would rise to near 3 million, making this the sixth in seven presidential elections that the GOP lost the popular vote. Trump cracked the “blue wall,” but a shift of 70,000 votes would have meant a thirdstraight GOP defeat.
Seven months in, the promise of a new Republican era has receded. It is not because Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have proven to be formidable adversaries, but because the GOP coalition has gone to bat- tle stations — against itself.
Trump has taken to disparaging Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for failing to pass health care reform, though the decisive vote to kill the bill came from John McCain, who, for his own motives and to media cheers, torpedoed McConnell and humiliated his party.
And as Allan Ryskind writes in The Washington Times, McConnell is responsible for Neil Gorsuch being on the Supreme Court. Had Mitch not kept his troops in line to block a Senate vote on Judge Merrick Garland, there would have been no vacancy for Trump to fill with Gorsuch.
McConnell is also indispensable to the Trump-GOP effort to repopulate federal appellate courts with disciples of Antonin Scalia.
What purpose is served by the coach trashing his quarterback — in midseason?
Undeniably, Congress, which the voters empowered to repeal Obamacare, reduce tax rates and rebuild America’s infrastructure, has thus far failed. And if Congress fails to produce on tax reform, the GOP will have some serious explaining to do in 2018.
As for Trump, while public approval of his performance is at record lows for a president commitments and had some achievements.
He put Gorsuch on the court. He pulled out of the Trans-Pa- Climate Accord. He persuaded NATO allies to put up more for defense. He approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Border security is better. The economic news has been excellent: Record runups in the stock market, near-full employment, growth approaching the 3 percent he promised. The coal industry has been liberated, and the Trump folks are renegotiating NAFTA.
Yet the divisions over policy and the persona of the president are widening. Trump is disliked and disrespected by many in his own party on Capitol Hill, and much of the
Neil Gorsuch’s presence on the Supreme Court is one of Trump’s triumphs.