It’s possible Daddy Long Arms, aka James Comey, relaxed in sweat pants, sandals and socks, and a yellow I LUV PUERTO RICO tee, will offer, to use a favorite Beltway adjective, bombshell testimony tomorrow. These revelations will dominate the news cycle for the next few days, especially if President Donald Trump responds on Twitter, as his aides have suggested he’s threatened to do. Whether it will sway any Republican committed to Trump on the Hill is another matter. I say it won’t.
Scourge of free speech liberals Jonathan Chait, whom I don’t quote often, gets it right. Following the line that Joe “Morning” Scarborough advances on his program, Republicans before Election Day were reticent about endorsing Trump because not only was he a former Democrat but he was acting in a manner that suggested he wasn’t a true Republican (the implication: Democrats are sex slobs who boast about assaulting women and who insult Gold Star families). That’s no longer the case.
The policies or talking points Trump has abandoned are the centrist ones: He would protect Medicaid from cuts, give everybody terrific coverage, hammer the big banks, spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, and cut deals with both parties. This week, Trump formally abandoned the last possible area of ideological compromise in infrastructure, “clarifying” that his plan relies on private industry, states, or cities ponying up the money. Trump’s budget actually cuts federal investments in infrastructure. He has positioned himself to the right of even House Republicans on domestic spending, and continues to push for their grossly unpopular plan to cut a trillion dollars from Obamacare. “The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true,” points out the popular conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager.
This preceding paragraph is even better:
The conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party began in the 1960s and took decades to complete. Conservatives still have not lost their sense of being an insurgent movement that might at any moment be betrayed by the party Establishment. Conservatives think of their role as quasi-independent, but they also imagine it as focusing exclusively on enforcing fealty to their doctrine by politicians who might otherwise be inclined to wander. The scenario they are built to fight against is the Republican president who colludes with Democrats, not one who colludes with foreign dictators. If the president is fighting against the opposition party, they assume he is acting correctly. Conservative organs like National Review originally viewed Richard Nixon with hostility, and — perverse as it may sound — came to his defense because of Watergate.
National Review still publishes the occasional screed defending Nixon as a mixed up guy made a martyr by the leftist press and its abettors in DC while stepping away fron Dick’s accomplishments in office. Should Trump be hounded out of his office or reduced to an orange stain on an Oval Office chair, expect a typical Jonah Goldberg column larded with “To be sure, Donald Trump was a dishonorable man” and other literate equivocations.
Expect to see the bonds between the GOP and the president loosen if – only if – the August recess arrives and both have no legislative agenda to run on, and even so I expect the GOP and Trump to blame Democrats and, you guessed it, the media. They’re already floating the idea.