A Message from My Daughter, Pollyanna Aardvark

Hayley Mills Pollyanna

Yeah, I know lots of y’all are deeply pessimistic, and God knows you have a right to be. But I have to say that, on  the available evidence, Paul Waldman has it right: President Trump is dragging Republicans down with him. Waldman writes,

Trump’s aides have decided that this is the issue that will guarantee the president’s reelection:

President Trump and his political team plan to make his years-long quest for a border wall one of the driving themes of his reelection effort — attempting to turn his failure to build such a project into a combative sales pitch that pits him against the political establishment on immigration.

In other words, Trump will try to repeat the extraordinary success he achieved last fall, when he did everything in his power to make the midterm election about supposedly terrifying caravans of asylum seekers and the need for walls to keep them away. The result, you may recall, was an enormous victory for Democrats. …

Multiple Republicans there have gone on record about the declaration, saying “I would have my doubts” (Sen. Ron Johnson) or “I’m not enthusiastic about it” (Sen. Pat Toomey) or “I have some concerns” (Sen. Roy Blunt), or even “I wish he wouldn’t have done it” (Sen. Chuck Grassley). They think that presidential power has expanded too far, and they worry about setting a precedent that the next Democratic president will use in ways they abhor. But are they actually going to vote with Democrats against Trump? …

Trump may be quite happy to have [a bill disapproving his emergency declaration] pass and then veto it, so he can say he’s bravely standing up to the “establishment.” He’ll be running a scorched-earth, maximally divisive campaign in 2020, counting on fear and hatred to once again carry him to victory. If he thinks it’s to his benefit to turn on his own party to do it, and attack Republicans in Congress as a bunch of lily-livered wimps whose loathing of immigrants is insufficiently pure, that’s what he’ll do.

And as we reach November 2020, we could see a repeat of 2018, with Trump insisting that political victory will be his if only he tells a few more lurid stories of immigrant crime and holds a few more rallies so that his rabid supporters can chant “Build that wall!” (or “Finish that wall!” or “Paint that wall!” or whatever he decides the latest slogan should be), despite all evidence pointing toward defeat. Should that happen, Republicans whose own necks are on the line will wonder whether they might have done anything to prevent being taken down with him. But by then it will be too late. In fact, it probably already is.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

First, for the record, let me reiterate the view that by November, 2020, Trump may be wearing an orange jumpsuit. If that’s right, then when we speak of Trump’s reelection campaign, we are writing about a hypothetical, contrary to fact. But, to put that thought aside …

Republican politicians’ self-interest—indeed, their hope of political salvation—lies in getting Trump off the stage quickly, one way or the other.

If logic suggests that a thing must be happening—like a Republican conspiracy against Trump—then, very probably, that thing is in fact happening.

Stay tuned.