Thank you, Mr. Trump.
A traditional republican president would have done many of the things that Trump is doing. The Keystone Pipeline would have been resurrected, he (and since we are talking about the Republicans, that is the correct pronoun) would be working smoothly with Paul Ryan to shred the safety net, blow up Obamacare and otherwise implement a cruel and unfair agenda. The difference is that a Kasich, a Romney or a McCain would have done the dirty work without dancing in the end zone or showing mind-boggling levels of incompetence.
That is not to say, of course, that the Trump’s differences are all stylistic. None of the others would have been stupid enough to ban Muslims, for instance. They wouldn’t have either because they feared the reaction or, hopefully, that they knew it is wrong ethically and probably legally.
But Trump is Trump, and his poorly played overreach will end up making it difficult to achieve both the generic republican goals and those that are unique to his already troubled presidency.
In politics, failure begets failure, and the failures of the past week — in particular, this past weekend — will cost Trump dearly. There is one thing Donald Trump and people like him understand better than the rest of us: The cruel logic of a world in which there only are winners and losers. He knows he screwed up.
Trump has awakened a real and substantial resistance, and one powered for quick reaction by social media. It largely consists of moderates, many of whom probably were apolitical even a few months ago. After only a week, the discussion is squarely about Trump’s failures and shortcomings.
We already are a crossroads.
That makes this week very important. Initially, the naming of the nominee for Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat was to be announced Thursday. That has been changed to tomorrow–and in prime time, no less. The administration moved it up because it is desperate to change the subject.
This will be the week in which Congressional Democrats have an opportunity to make a difference. The need for them to push back and assert their relevance should be seen as part of a bigger landscape that started last year with the unconscionable refusal of Mitch McConnell to allow debate on Garland, a move that was every bit as incriminating as being caught on surveillance video knocking over a bank.
This is a golden opportunity for Senate Democrats to make their stand. The little bit of power held by the Democrats in the Senate is the ability to filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Chuck Schumer should announce one of two things: The only nominee that he will sign off on is Garland or that other candidates will be allowed a vote–after the same 11 months that passed between Anton Scalia’s death and the end of the Obama administration.
Trump and his bunch of Larrys and Curlys have set this up beautifully for the Democrats. The Democratic politicians can get back into the game. The Supreme Court, which has been stuck more or less in neutral for a year, would remain so (which, of course, is a better outcome than adding a fifth conservative vote). Trump would have more bad news cycles as his pick languishes. Republican cries of obstruction would be laughed at by Democrats, who would simply repeat the quaint old saying about gooses and ganders.
Suddenly, it’s Chuck Schumer time.