Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Trump, Ryan, and the path to Carter-dom

Trump can't stop feuding with anyone.  Ever.  Now, he continues his feud with Paul Ryan, and refuses to endorse the Speaker of the House-- the man with whom he would need to work, should he overcome the odds and beat HRC in November.

Back in March, I argued that we should return to Nelson W. Polsby's Consequences of Party Reform if we want to understand a potential Trump presidency (here and here).  Trump is a political outsider who could only become the nominee through the primary process, but as an outsider with poor relations with party insiders, he would be unable to work with party insiders to accomplish much.  That was the central problem of the Carter administration, according to Polsby's assessment, and Trump, should he win, is going down that road.  It is difficult to see how he can salvage any practical working relationship with Paul Ryan when this kind of thing happens three months before the general election.  These two can't stand each other, and they probably never will develop any decent working relationship.  What does that mean?

Well, from Ryan's perspective, I argued before that he basically follows Grover Norquist's theory of the presidency.  He wants a Republican president with enough working digits to sign a Republican budget cutting taxes.  And, he can't survive debt ceiling standoffs with a Democratic president, or he'd be ousted, just like Boehner.  His goals are minimal, so he'll take Trump over Clinton, but that's because he just doesn't care about much.  Tax cuts.  That's it.

Trump?  He'd just be Carter redux, endlessly frustrated by the contrast between his self-image as the consummate deal-maker and his inability to make a deal with the people he keeps pissing off, like Paul Ryan.  That is, unless he just does nothing, and lets Pence handle everything. When I picked Pence as Trump's VP, it was predicated on the idea that Pence would serve that kind of role, in which case we would see a difference between Trump and Carter.  Trump would let Pence run the show, and Trump's feud with Ryan would just be background noise while Pence does the real work.  Unless Trump is so caught up in personal vendettas that he gets in the way and undermines himself.

But Trump would never be so self-destructive, right?  Right?

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