Submitted by James E. Miller,
With precious few weeks before Donald Trump takes the oath of office and officially becomes President of the United States (and, if you listen to the fraidy-cat Left, ushers in the eschaton), the taste of victory keeps getting sweeter.
First, there was the Carrier deal which saved hundreds of U.S jobs from being outsourced to Mexico. Then there was Trump’s twitter-shaming of Boeing over the bloated cost of the new Air Force Once, after which the airline giant conceded to the Donald’s demands and cut costs. And, of course, there was the cultural triumph of everyday Americans being able to say “Merry Christmas!” once again with joyful abandon.
Trump was right: All this winning sure gets tiresome.
The victory campaign wages on, and the latest win is quickly becoming my personal favorite. “Trump posse browbeats Hill Republicans,” ran the headline in Politico. The inevitable feud between the most conservative members of the House of Republicans and the President-elect has already begun.
“We all agree that some of President Trump’s proposed policies are not going to line up very well with our conservative policies,” said Bill Flores, an unassuming representative from Texas’s 17th District, during a D.C. conference in early December. The Lonestar rep. isn’t wrong. During the Republican primary, Trump put GOP orthodoxy in a headlock. He pledged to cut back on free trade, punish companies that move overseas with tariffs, stop military adventurism and nation-building à la Iraq, and not cut a dime from entitlements. One of his first initiatives in office will be a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan aimed at alleviating unemployment and rebuilding the nation’s roads and ports.
For the party of cutting taxes and spending, unfettered global trade, and military might, this is apostasy of the first order. Trump is no Ayn Rand acolyte, as the New Yorker’s John Cassidy and James Hohmann of The Washington Post have suggested. He’s a visceral populist with nation-centric instincts. Think-tank darlings and Hayek-adorers despise his lowbrow instincts.
This puts ideological policy-makers in a tough spot. For questioning the President-elect’s agenda, Rep. Flores was the first to feel the Trumpian wrath. His twitter feed was attacked relentlessly by Trump’s supporters.
Other lawmakers are taking note. Republican House members are flummoxed about how to deal with Trump. Many reside in districts that went heavily for the populist billionaire (that oxymoron never ceases to amaze). They no longer occupy the snug position of defying Obama, much to their constituents’ delight.
It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don't” situation, as one GOP aide put it.
When politicians are forced onto a tightrope, entertainment is guaranteed. And to my never-ending delight, the sellouts are coming, hard and fast.
A long profile piece by Tim Alberta was just published in National Review detailing the internecine squabbling between congressional Republicans. The House Freedom Caucus, comprised of the most hardcore conservatives, is split on how it will uphold its principles in the Era of Trump. GOP leadership is also not in a good place. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan disavowed the Donald during the campaign, called him a racist, refused to campaign with him, then sheepishly admitted he’d still vote Trump come Election Day.
Many House Republicans were furious with Ryan’s about-face, as it showed the character of a neebish rather than an upstanding leader. Given that Trump endorsed Ryan during his own campaign fight, and pushed for his return to the speakership, the Speaker will now owe the president his loyalty – a great power-move by Trump and co.
Speaking of power-moves, Trump’s tapping of Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina to head the Office of Management and Budget will neuter the HFC by removing one of its key spokesmen. Mulvaney had promised to be a check on a President Trump. Now that he’s been appointed to a top post in the new administration? Nary a peep. In fact, Mulvaney enraged his fellow HFC members by joining the dark side and recently nominating Ryan for Speaker —a move likely at the behest of Trump after his OMB appointment—and suffered a verbal dressing down for his cravenness.
It all goes to show that even the most forthright of politicians will prove a dastardly dealmaker if you scratch the surface hard enough. Trump’s laying bare the idea that not all politicians have a price. Political science students should take note.
Don’t get me wrong: I also enjoy watching the Left lose its collective shit over Trump’s astounding election. The doubling-down on racial and sexual identity politics, the anti-white jeremiads, the hate crime hoaxes, the media shuffling its sockpuppet menagerie of “reporters” and calling it reform – liberal obstinacy will surely gift us with a Trump landslide reelection.
But I still feel a great deal of glee watching congressional Republicans fumble all over one another, trying to stay in the good graces of the new president and their constituents while keeping their inviolable principles.
Politics is hardly a game for the true-of-heart. That’s why someone like Donald Trump, an admitted dealmaker with practical aspirations, can run the show so easily, pushing both his support and opposition into the exact spot that serves his cause the most.
It’s all a delight to watch. It was high time someone like Trump came in and started tearing apart political orthodoxies like a kid unwrapping presents on Christmas Day. I hope, once in office, Trump will behave similarly to King Magnus in George Bernard Shaw’s The Apple Cart, gracious and constantly thwarting the plans of his supposed political allies who look to depose him for their own gain.
Here’s to a new, more interesting year!