The GOP Is Poised To Become Trumpier As Trump Becomes Less Trumpy
Credit: Getty Images
September 12, 2017

I still have my doubts, but Axios's Mike Allen says that President Trump likes the new, bipartisan President Trump:

A Trump adviser says that after a tumultuous seven months in office, it had finally dawned on the president: "People really f@&@ing hate me." ...

This week's bear hug of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer opened Trump's eyes to one solution: Stop doing things that people hate, and start striking deals.

Allen adds, "Who knows if this will stick." But he thinks it might, for a few reasons, including these:

* He can blame Republicans for his troubles. Trump has convinced himself he was duped by GOP leaders into repealing health care and blowing his first seven months on a fool's errand. If he can strike a few deals, he can reshape history to make the party — not himself — the culprit.

* He can please the kids and New Yorkers. With the banishment of Bannon and his allies, Trump is left with a largely moderate to Democratic staff.

* A senior administration official said of Trump's deal with Chuck and Nancy: "He just wanted to do something popular." He's reveling in the coverage, including lavish praise from "Morning Joe."

Ahhh, Morning Joe. For anyone who believes that Trump might now become a genuinely Democratic president, here's the limit on that: Joe Scarborough will praise Trump for doing a debt limit deal and for trying to save DACA. He might praise Trump if he does a real infrastructure deal, one that genuinely focuses on building things rather than lining developers' pockets. But Scarborough isn't going to praise Trump if Trump wakes up one morning and decides he's in favor of single-payer health care or a $15 minimum wage.

So maybe Trump will become a centrist Republican -- it's possible. But if so, it's awkward, because as Trump becomes less Trumpy, his party is becoming more so, as The New York Times notes:

President Trump’s mercurial politics are already rattling Republicans heading into the 2018 midterm campaign, sparking Trump-like primary challenges in two high-profile Senate races and a host of lower-profile House contests, while pushing a growing number of moderate House members to the exits.

On Thursday night, Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a leader of the House Republican moderates, announced that he had had enough, following Representatives Dave Reichert of Washington and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida to a Trump-free retirement.

Trump-inspired candidates have emerged to challenge Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, two Republicans who have been targets of the president’s ire, as well as House members seen as insufficiently devoted to Mr. Trump, such as Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina.

... even Republicans who are uneasy about Mr. Trump say lawmakers need to understand the grip he holds on the conservative grass roots.

“If you would go to my county Republican clubs right now, they are all about Trump,” said Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida. “He is the party.”

What happens to a cult based on the cult leader's rabble-rousing rhetoric if the rhetoric changes? We may find out.

On the other hand, I think Trump will stick with the right-wing moves that don't get him very much bad press -- fox-guarding-the-hen-house deregulation, extremist judges, Democratic voter suppression. He'll stick with the wall, both because he's a bone-deep racist and because he'll confuse the fans' fervor with widespread popular approval. Who knows? Maybe he'll make this crazy mix work, getting praise one day from the elite media for a centrist move and then throwing out red meat for the rabble the next day. But the GOP is going to be a strange cult when the cult leader routinely forgets the dogma.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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