Trump could get last laugh in 2020

GOP couldn’t fathom Obama re-elected, ei­ther

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Scott Jen­nings is a part­ner at RunSwitch PR. He wrote this for The (Louisville, Ken­tucky) Courier-Jour­nal. Scott Jen­nings

We are re­liv­ing the Obama pres­i­dency. The pres­i­dent is po­lar­iz­ing but not his­tor­i­cally un­pop­u­lar. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ap­proval in a re­cent NBC News/Wall Street Jour­nal poll (47 per­cent) was higher than Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s just be­fore the 2010 midterms. In late Oc­to­ber, Trump was in equal or bet­ter shape than seven of the past 17 pres­i­dents at his first midterm, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Aaron Blake. The con­spir­acy the­o­rists on the right hol­ler­ing about Obama’s ori­gins and re­li­gious pref­er­ences have been re­placed by the out­rage mobs of the left. There were Repub­li­cans who be­lieved Obama was go­ing to be re­moved from office over his birth cer­tificate, just as there are Democrats who be­lieve that spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller will kick open the Oval Office door and frog­march Trump from the White House in hand­cuffs.

It’s weak-minded bologna then and now, fo­mented by peo­ple who can’t han­dle los­ing and who are more in­ter­ested in con­spir­acy the­o­ries than the out­comes pro­duced by our democ­racy.

No mat­ter the re­sult of a House ma­jor­ity, the Demo­cratic con­fer­ence will con­tain sev­eral new mem­bers who reflect the an­gry lib­eral mob, which seems to make up the Demo­cratic Party’s core. Nearly 80 per­cent of Democrats told CNN’s poll­sters in Septem­ber that Trump should be im­peached, and more than 6 mil­lion peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing it. If pre­sump­tive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trav­els that road (some­thing her base will de­mand), it will be an­other log on a po­lit­i­cal over­reach fire the Democrats stoke daily. Time and again, Democrats are handed is­sues with which they could truly dam­age Trump but fail by act­ing crazy. To Mid­dle Amer­ica, Democrats seem like Chris Far­ley’s Tommy Boy try­ing to sell brake pads to alarmed auto parts store own­ers. Tommy, of course, pulled him­self to­gether and saved the fam­ily busi­ness. I am not sure the Democrats will, and their mad­ness in­ures to Trump’s benefit.

I well re­mem­ber how hard it was to beat an in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in 2012. For four years, the Obama White House built a data and fundrais­ing jug­ger­naut as Mitt Rom­ney, who strug­gled to put sev­eral op­po­nents away in a GOP pri­mary, was “build­ing a fighter jet while si­mul­ta­ne­ously tak­ing off from an air­craft car­rier,” as the cam­paign’s po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor once told me.

The same thing is hap­pen­ing again. As Democrats brace for a bat­tle royal, The Post re­ports that Trump’s re-elec­tion cam­paign has “raised at least $106 mil­lion” and seems to be mas­ter­ing the small-dol­lar donor game.

Democrats are des­tined for a crowded and bru­tal affair, chock-full of ar­gu­ments about ide­o­log­i­cal pu­rity and self-de­feat­ing iden­tity pol­i­tics. In 2020, be­ing white and/or male will be to the Demo­cratic pri­mary what be­ing Mor­mon or “es­tab­lish­ment” was to the Repub­li­cans in 2012.

Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh’s confirma­tion fight ex­posed the deep loathing lib­eral ac­tivists have for the “old white men” in our pol­i­tics, which ex­plains why Sen. El­iz­a­beth Warren of Mas­sachusetts is fight­ing so hard to keep up the “woman of color” bit de­spite quite pos­si­bly be­ing less Na­tive Amer­i­can than the av­er­age Amer­i­can of Eu­ro­pean an­ces­try. What’s an old white male like Joe Bi­den, os­ten­si­bly the party’s front-run­ner, to do? He’ll make the same ar­gu­ment that Rom­ney made — electabil­ity — at a time when his party is “nom­i­nat­ing a his­toric num­ber of women and peo­ple of color for office,” ac­cord­ing to Time mag­a­zine.

The Demo­cratic pri­mary will be messier than a tod­dler’s toy room be­fore nap time, re­plete with the same melt­downs and drama, too. Can Bi­den’s claims of Mid­west­ern com­pet­i­tive­ness trump the de­sire of lib­eral ac­tivists for youth and di­ver­sity?

At a din­ner ear­lier this year among some ex­pe­ri­enced po­lit­i­cal hands, I posited, be­cause of the in­ter­nal strug­gles loom­ing for the Democrats, that Trump had bet­ter than a 50 per­cent chance of be­ing re-elected. The ta­ble erupted in laugh­ter. My guffaw­ing din­ner com­pan­ions might be right — a re­ces­sion could hit or, less likely, Mueller could drop a bomb­shell. Ei­ther could sink the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent.

But many Repub­li­cans couldn’t fathom Obama be­ing re-elected in 2012, ei­ther. And it’s start­ing to feel like a re­run in which Trump gets the last laugh.

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