Past few weeks best of Trump pres­i­dency

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - OPINION - Marc A. Thiessen Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marc­thiessen.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­cently im­peached Pres­i­dent Trump. Yet th­ese past few weeks have ar­guably been the best of Trump’s pres­i­dency — not de­spite im­peach­ment, but in no small part be­cause of it.

Con­sider the string of suc­cesses Trump has racked up re­cenly. First came news that the U.S. econ­omy added 266,000 jobs in Novem­ber, far ex­ceed­ing eco­nomic fore­casts. Not only that, but the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics also re­vised the Au­gust and Septem­ber jobs re­ports up­ward, adding 41,000 more jobs to the Trump eco­nomic record. And a new Quin­nip­iac poll found that 57% of Amer­i­cans said they are bet­ter off fi­nan­cially since Trump took of­fice.

In a move that will fur­ther bol­ster the econ­omy, Trump reached agree­ment with House Democrats to move for­ward on the U.S.-Mex­ico-Canada Agree­ment (USMCA), giv­ing the pres­i­dent a major win. Within days, Trump also reached a “Phase 1” trade deal with China, post­pon­ing new tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods that were set to kick in and cut­ting tar­iffs on some Chi­nese prod­ucts he had pre­vi­ously im­posed in half.

The administra­tion ex­pects a $200 bil­lion boost in ex­ports over two years from the deal. Both deals will cer­tainly bol­ster the pres­i­dent’s stand­ing with the ru­ral and work­ing-class vot­ers who de­fected to Trump from the Democrats in 2016. That’s not all. Trump also reached agree­ment with Democrats on a spend­ing bill avert­ing a gov­ern­ment shut­down. He se­cured Demo­cratic sup­port on a tax bill that would re­peal three Oba­macare taxes, in­clud­ing the “Cadil­lac tax” on high-cost em­ployer-spon­sored health in­surance — a major win for union work­ers. And the House ap­proved a $738 bil­lion de­fense spend­ing bill that would au­tho­rize the cre­ation of his Space Force and his parental leave pol­icy for fed­eral work­ers, while not in­clud­ing re­stric­tions Democrats had threat­ened on use of de­fense dol­lars to build a bor­der wall.

Trump also got good news from across the pond, when Boris John­son’s Con­ser­va­tives trounced the Labour Party by ef­fec­tively fol­low­ing Trump’s 2016 cam­paign script — ap­peal­ing to work­ing-class vot­ers with an anti-glob­al­ist mes­sage, prom­ises to pro­tect en­ti­tle­ments and make “colos­sal” in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture. The Tory vic­tory showed that Trump’s brand of con­ser­va­tive pop­ulism is still po­tent.

To top it all off, Trump learned that the Jus­tice De­part­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral found that the FBI had fal­si­fied ev­i­dence in its ap­pli­ca­tions to the FISA court to con­duct sur­veil­lance on his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and that — con­trary to for­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey’s claims — the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee-funded Steele dossier played a “cen­tral and es­sen­tial role” in au­tho­riz­ing that sur­veil­lance.

Ah, say the crit­ics, but this good news was book­ended by the dark cloud of im­peach­ment, which dimmed the lus­ter of Trump’s suc­cesses. The op­po­site is true. Many of th­ese suc­cesses hap­pened pre­cisely be­cause of im­peach­ment. Un­til now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had been drag­ging her feet on the USMCA and other Trump pri­or­i­ties.

So why did the leg­isla­tive log­jam break pre­cisely the same week that Democrats in­tro­duced their ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment?

Be­cause Democrats know that vot­ers see them fo­cus­ing on im­peach­ment at the ex­pense of get­ting things done. Mod­er­ate Democrats run­ning in Trump dis­tricts have seen the polling show­ing that two-thirds of swingstate vot­ers who cast their bal­lots for Trump in 2016, but then voted for Democrats in 2018, plan to back Trump again in 2020.

One of them, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., was so alarmed he switched to the Repub­li­can Party. As the rest of the Democrats are forced to walk the plank on im­peach­ment, they are des­per­ate to show that they are also work­ing with Trump on the kitchentab­le is­sues they cam­paigned on. Trump didn’t get all this done de­spite im­peach­ment; im­peach­ment is the rea­son Democrats al­lowed grid­lock to fi­nally give way.

Im­peach­ment is both a leg­isla­tive and po­lit­i­cal plus for Trump. Af­ter weeks of hear­ings, most polls show that sup­port for im­peach­ment and re­moval has gone down — es­pe­cially in swing states. Be­fore the im­peach­ment hear­ings be­gan, a GOP poll by Fire­house Strate­gies showed Trump trail­ing his Demo­cratic chal­lengers; now, in the wake of the im­peach­ment hear­ings, Trump is lead­ing them all.

The pol­i­tics will only get worse for Democrats go­ing for­ward.

When the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate ac­quits Trump, as it in­evitably will, the spir­its of the “Re­sis­tance” will be damp­ened — while Trump sup­port­ers will be en­er­gized by his vic­tory and claimed vin­di­ca­tion.

Bot­tom line: The econ­omy is hum­ming, Trump’s ac­com­plish­ments are ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and im­peach­ment is back­fir­ing — and that makes th­ese the best weeks of Trump’s pres­i­dency so far.

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