Chuck, Nancy and the Don­ald

The Detroit News - - Front Page -

We should find who­ever has kid­napped the real Don­ald Trump and ask how much he’d charge to keep him. Be­cause the body dou­ble who has been stand­ing in for Pres­i­dent Trump th­ese past sev­eral days has man­aged to do some­thing we haven’t seen in years: bring bi­par­ti­san gov­ern­ing to Wash­ing­ton.

Twice in the past two weeks Trump has sat down in pri­vate ses­sions with Demo­cratic lead­ers Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to horse trade on is­sues that have de­fied com­pro­mise for decades.

Over Chi­nese food Wed­nes­day night in the White House with “Chuck and Nancy,” the pair he once re­ferred to as Cryin’ Chuck and Lyin’ Nancy, Trump ap­par­ently ham­mered out the frame­work of an im­mi­gra­tion deal that would re­store the the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA) pro­tec­tions for im­mi­grants who were brought to the coun­try il­le­gally by their par­ents.

The pres­i­dent had re­scinded for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s DACA ex­ec­u­tive or­der just a week ago. Now he is re­port­edly of­fer­ing up a bar­gain that would set the so-called Dream­ers on a path to cit­i­zen­ship.

Wed­nes­day’s din­ner comes on the heels of a sim­i­lar nosh fest with the Demo­cratic lead­ers that re­solved the debt ceil­ing stand-off.

All Trump got in re­turn for that bar­gain was dol­lars for hur­ri­cane re­lief, which he’d have got­ten any­way. And on the DACA deal, he ap­par­ently got a player to be named later. Pelosi said they agreed to agree on an agree­ment.

Trump in­sisted noth­ing is fi­nal and, con­trary to re­ports, he didn’t give up his de­mands for a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der. But his nu­anced ref­er­ences to strength­en­ing ex­ist­ing bar­ri­ers sug­gest he might set­tle for some­thing short of what he promised on the cam­paign trail. Lis­ten to this quote from Trump: “More and more we are try­ing to work things out to­gether. If you look at some of the great­est leg­is­la­tion ever passed, it was done so in a bi­par­ti­san man­ner. So we’re go­ing to give it a shot.”

This is the same Don­ald Trump who de­nounced Democrats as self-serv­ing ob­struc­tion­ists just a few weeks ago and came into of­fice wield­ing a broad ax with which to rive the na­tion in two.

It may be that Don­ald Trump, the self-de­scribed ul­ti­mate win­ner, got tired of los­ing. Other than the con­fir­ma­tion of Supreme Court Jus­tice Neal Gor­such, he hasn’t had a sin­gle vic­tory in seven months.

That’s largely be­cause his Repub­li­can cau­cus in Congress has been too pre­oc­cu­pied with in­ter­nal feud­ing to ex­ploit the to­tal con­trol they have over Wash­ing­ton.

The pres­i­dent set up his “Chuck and Nancy” mo­ment with weeks of in­creas­ingly harsh crit­i­cism of Mitch and Paul. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nel and House Speaker Paul Ryan were not at Wed­nes­day’s in­ti­mate din­ner, and were not con­sulted on the deal-mak­ing.

Since Trump’s swear­ing-in I’ve said that Schumer, Pelosi and their Demo­cratic crew were miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity with the new pres­i­dent. Trump is not an ide­o­logue, nor is he a tra­di­tional Repub­li­can or move­ment con­ser­va­tive.

He’s a deal maker who loves to have his ego stroked and brag about his big bar­gains.

In­stead of re­sist­ing, Democrats should have been co-opt­ing. Let the pres­i­dent put a few points on the board and score some your­selves.

In lean­ing to­ward the Demo­cratic lead­er­ship, Trump is fir­ing a warn­ing shot at the GOP. If they don’t stop squab­bling and drop some leg­is­la­tion on his desk, he’ll try to find an open­ing with the op­po­si­tion.

This shift, if it in­deed is one, also may be tied to the de­par­ture of pres­i­den­tial ad­viser Steve Ban­non, who held Trump close to his base. Since Ban­non’s de­par­ture, Trump’s tweets have been less in­flam­ma­tory, and he has pre­sented a softer im­age over­all.

There’s risk for Trump in go­ing to warm and fuzzy. Rep. Peter King of Iowa, a most loyal Trump acolyte, lost his mind when re­ports of the Wed­nes­day deal leaked, ac­cus­ing Trump of “blow­ing up” his base.

Trump still needs Repub­li­can law­mak­ers like King. Should spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller turn up any­thing to sup­port the ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment Democrats have al­ready drawn up, all that will stand be­tween him and the door is the loy­alty of a GOP-con­trolled Congress.

Pelosi and Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Diane Fe­in­stein may be hint­ing they’ll call off the at­tack dogs, and the me­dia may have soft­ened enough to praise Trump for his hur­ri­cane re­sponse, but they’ll be cir­cling him again at the first trace of blood.

Still, Trump on Tues­day showed signs he isn’t done ap­peas­ing Democrats at the ex­pense of his own party’s agenda, say­ing in Florida that he’ll only sup­port tax cuts for the mid­dle class and not the broader re­lief for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the wealthy, the GOP wants.

This new ap­proach by Trump may be a feint. He is of such a volatile na­ture that to­mor­row he could re­turn to rip­ping apart Schumer and Pelosi and pos­ing for happy pic­tures with McCon­nell and Ryan.

Or we could ac­tu­ally be wit­ness­ing an un­ex­pected stroke of bril­liance from the Trump White House.

nfin­ley@de­troit­news.com Catch The Nolan Fin­ley Show week­days 7-9 a.m. on 910

AM Su­per­sta­tion.

NOLAN FIN­LEY

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