Monday, August 14, 2017

Will THIS be Trump's undoing?

Trump did something stupid and despicable.  Everyone must condemn him.  Surely this will mean his political doom, right?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

After Trump's most recent incident that everyone needed to condemn (his misogynistic attacks on Mika Brzezinski), I posted this.  I stand by it, and it has significant relevance to Trump's response to Charlottesville.

The basic point of my earlier post was that unless congressional Republicans impose some consequences on Trump, he can continue to get away with anything.  What consequences could they impose?  I mean, in general, what could congressional Republicans do to Trump?

1)  Impeachment.  As I have explained before, many times, this will never happen, but it would be a consequence.

2)  25th Amendment.  In principle, Trump could be declared mentally unfit for office.  Another pipe dream.  Same reasons.  Note that I won't even bother spilling virtual ink on this.  Ain't gonna happen.

3)  Block Trump's policies, either by refusing to act legislatively, or by passing legislation to counteract his executive actions.  The problem with this approach is that Trump's policy agenda comports with the GOP's agenda in most areas.  The places where it doesn't, like trade, are areas where differences would occur anyway, so really, what's the difference?  Either the GOP would have to work against their own agenda, or do what they would do anyway.

4)  Whenever Trump acts like Trump, keep acting like a British cop...

So, options 1 and 2 won't happen.  Option 3 requires real policy sacrifice, and option 4, the option the GOP keeps choosing, is an old Robin Williams joke.

This is the basic problem, and I have to keep going back to good, old Thomas Schelling and The Strategy of Conflict.  Threats matter, and your threats are difficult to manage when carrying them out is self-destructive.  Option 3 is really the GOP's only choice once you take impeachment and the 25th Amendment off the table, which they have.  As long as the GOP decides that whatever policy they can get from Trump matters more than reigning him in, Trump can continue to get away with anything.  When you're President, they let you do that.

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