Comey Day is over, no Republican is turning on the president, and we've now reached the equilibrium that will persist at least until Election Day 2018, if not until Inauguration Day 2021, as Jonathan Martin and Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times report:
Resigned to Trump’s Woes, G.O.P. Keeps Working on Legislative Goals
... As they have traveled through the various stages of grief over the unpredictability of their president and the realization that Mr. Trump is unlikely to change, congressional Republicans appear to have landed at acceptance, basically hoping that the president does not get in their way.
They have largely ceased defending or explaining Mr. Trump’s more ostentatiously reckless remarks or Twitter posts, and at their most critical they casually chide his behavior....
... Republicans are letting Democrats serve as Mr. Trump’s loudest critics while trying to establish the president as inept, perhaps, but not criminal.
“If being crude, rude and a bull in a china shop was a crime, Trump would get the death penalty,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “It’s not.”
It's clear what the congressional GOP is thinking: Trump will do whatever he wants. Some of it will appall 60 percent or more of the country. But as long as Trump keeps his base -- which he apparently always will, no matter what he does -- his fellow Republicans assume that the base will turn out to reelect them. Gerrymandering and suppression of the Democratic vote will limit the GOP's losses. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans will proceed as if Trump has no role in the process of writing and shaping legislation. Their notion of a good president will be consistent with what Grover Norquist said in 2012:
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.... His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.
If Republicans in Congress and the party's base voters continue to agree that literally nothing Trump does can possibly qualify as an impeachable offense, or even as a disillusioning one, then life can just go on this way as long as there are GOP majorities in both houses of Congress. Even after the midterms, removal from office is impossible because Democrats can never win 67 Senate seats. So Republicans will write the bills and hand them over for as long as they can, and we'll just go on this way.
But what about the crisis scenario?
With the economy continuing to add jobs and the stock market growing, most Republicans believe there is little in the short term that could dislodge the party’s grass roots from their support of Mr. Trump. The only caveat to this assessment is if there is a national crisis of some kind.
But what sort of crisis would alienate Trump voters? A domestic terrorist attack? If that happens, Trump will rage and fulminate, and perhaps respond with draconian, unconstitutional measures -- and his base will cheer, even if (perhaps especially if) those draconian measures are overturned by the courts. Hell, even if he just makes a lot of noise on Twitter, it will be base-pleasing noise.
A natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina? Katrina devastated a beloved tourist destination, and the response to it seemed racially tinged at a time when white America still seemed capable of some empathy for black people. George W. Bush's failed response to Katrina came at a time when his supporters were already wavering -- the Iraq War was dragging on, he'd tried to privatize Social Security, and Republicans (including W's brother) had meddled in the case of Terri Schiavo.
Could the response to another hurricane harm Trump? Recall that in 2016 his campaign had $29,000 worth of supplies delivered to victims of Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina. It's just the sort of showboaty, sizzle-not-steak response we could expect from him if a hurricane happened now. On the other hand, officials in North Carolina, including its Democratic governor, have asked the feds for aid this year in Matthew's aftermath -- and the response by the Trump administration has been underwhelming:
The state asked for $929 million, most of which would go toward initiatives like fixing homes damaged by flooding, supporting farmers who lost livestock and funding mental health services for survivors.
This week, the state discovered it was likely getting $6.1 million—less than 1 percent of the amount requested.
Is this tight-fistedness a major scandal? No. Most people don't even know about it.
So, short of nuclear attack on the United States, I can't see what would make Trump's base turn on him. And maybe that wouldn't even be enough. Go read "Nuclear Winter? Many Trump Fans Are Loving It," a humor piece Benjamin Hart posted a few months ago:
“The guy said he was gonna shake things up,” said social studies teacher Kathy Phillips, as her husband, Bob, nodded in agreement, upsetting some thermonuclear ash that had lodged in his hair onto the cracked Formica table in front of him. “Now he’s doing that, and the left is all upset. To me, it’s crying over spilled milk.”
Sounds about right to me.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog