Trump could get last laugh in 2020
GOP couldn’t fathom Obama re-elected, either
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 first 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 The conspiracy theorists on the right hollering about Obama’s origins and religious preferences have been replaced by the outrage mobs of the left.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 office over his birth certificate, just as there are Democrats who believe that special counsel Robert Mueller will kick open the Oval Office door and frogmarch Trump from the White House in handcuffs.
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 reflect 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 fire 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 benefit.
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 fighter 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 affair, 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 confirmation fight exposed the deep loathing liberal activists have for the “old white men” in our politics, which explains why Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is fighting 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 office,” 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 guffawing 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.