“Trump is Carter, only angrier, dimmer, less popular, much more out of his depth, and lacking in moral authority,” writes Josh Barro in a post titled Trump realizes he shouldn’t have written Democrats off — but he’s already screwed himself. Barro explains,
President Donald Trump seems to be realizing, belatedly, that writing Democrats off put him at the mercy of Republicans in Congress. If he can’t get nearly all Republicans to agree on something, he can’t have it.
Despite being an alleged dealmaking expert, he put himself in quite a weak negotiating position, which is sad!
So Trump is talking up his desire to deal with Democrats on healthcare and infrastructure, giving him an additional possible counterparty if Freedom Caucus Republicans won’t play ball.
But I don’t think Trump has realized how much he’d have to give up, policy-wise, to make Democrats willing to work with him. Democratic voters hate Trump. If Democrats are going to cut deals with him, they’re going to have to be confident they can go home and show their voters they got the best of the negotiation.
And he definitely hasn’t realized that being a jerk makes it harder to get both Republicans and Democrats to do what he wants. …
Now, Republicans in Congress are annoyed with the president, sniping at each other, and no longer so afraid of what can happen when Trump tweets. They’ve defied him once and survived — why not do it again? Democrats smell blood in the water, and are much more inclined to deny Trump assistance and enjoy his failures than to work constructively with him.
Trump didn’t just fail disastrously to make a deal on healthcare. He put himself in a position where his counterparties distrust and disrespect him even more than they used to, jeopardizing his ability to make deals in the future, too.
In the Washington Post this morning Matt O’Brien joins the chorus:
Democrats have no incentive to help Trump pass popular legislation when his unpopularity helps them. Why turn him into the winning winner he ran as, who alone possesses the ability to break through the gridlock of Washington, when they can keep him as the losing loser he’s governed as, who can’t even get a bill through one chamber of Congress his party controls? They won’t, at least not on terms that are remotely acceptable to Republicans.
That’s what happens when everyone knows you can’t afford to walk away from the negotiating table, say, because you have a 36 percent approval rating. Nobody will be afraid of your threats, everybody will call your bluff, and you will cave to whatever they want. That would at least get some deal done if you were only giving in to one set of demands, but when you’re trying to give in to two or three mutually exclusive ones, you won’t even get that.
You’ll get nothing.
For what it’s worth, Aardvark concurs. Paul Ryan controls the agenda in the House and Mitch McConnell controls the agenda in the Senate. To get Ryan, McConnell, most Republicans, and a good number of Democrats to agree on anything would be a miracle. It would take presidential leadership of an extraordinarily high order. Incompetence, ignorance, and invective will not do the trick. This dog won’t hunt.
At this point, March 29, we may take all of the above as a given. What we don’t know is how Trump will lash out to make up for his inevitable legislative debacles.