Image Credits: AFP.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has a stilted way of talking sometimes, but it’s not too hard to understand the point he’s trying to make here:
“Look, you’ve had experience for 100 days,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), as if he were speaking directly to Trump. “Your party is a divided party — you found that out. Some things you thought you were going to be able to do you haven’t been able to do, not because of Democratic opposition but Republican division.
He added: “That ought to tell you that on important, must-do issues, you’re well-advised on a bipartisan basis to get those done.”
At this point, I think almost everyone who tries to reason with President Trump is doing it mainly for appearances and not because they sincerely think he might listen. Steny Hoyer doesn’t really want to work with the president. After the insulting campaign he ran, it’s doubtful that many Democrats ever wanted to help Trump rack up legislative achievements, and any hope of that was lost when he started gathering Neo-Nazi advisers around him.
Still, we can at least craft an alternative recent history in which Trump pivoted after the election in recognition of the fact that he would not be able to govern independently of the two parties if he were completely dependent on either one of them. And if he didn’t get that basic point, he could have at least anticipated certain mathematical problems like the need to get eight Democratic senators to agree to go along with most of his legislative agenda so that he could avoid filibusters.
Hoyer points out a third problem, which is that Trump can’t depend on the Republicans because they’re too divided among themselves. None of this matters all that much anymore. The president can’t get a do-over.
At this point, he’s trying to make a show of keeping campaign promises, but there’s not a whole lot he can accomplish. He isn’t getting his big beautiful wall, and he certainly isn’t going to get Mexico to pay for it. He threatens to scrap NAFTA but backs down quickly. He’s gone from setting the record for disrespecting China to saying that they’re the most respectable government you’ve ever seen. Forget about his promise to label them a currency manipulator. He’s got no plan for passing his tax reform. Obamacare isn’t going anywhere and he isn’t going to stop paying for the subsidies. He’ll never get an infrastructure bill passed. He’s already been drawn into foreign entanglements in Syria, Afghanistan, and the Korean Peninsula. He said he’d cut deals, but can’t cut any deals. He isn’t draining the swamp; he’s filling it. The Courts are slapping down his immigration agenda.
Nothing is easy and nothing is happening fast. Almost nothing is going to happen at all that isn’t entirely within his discretion as the leader of the executive branch, and he’s even failing bigly to take advantage of his ability to get almost anyone he wants confirmed.
Here are some things that are going to confound him in short order. He got an extension to avoid a government shutdown but has made little progress on resolving the disputes that made the extension necessary. He’ll need to figure out how to get the debt ceiling raised by the end of the summer, at the latest, and he has no plan for how to make that happen.
A slew of other routine issues, but still pressing ones, are coming up on the congressional docket before the end of the year. Congress will have to decide whether to reauthorize a Veterans Affairs health-care program established in the wake of scandals across the agency. A Food and Drug Administration program that charges fees to drug companies seeking approval of new products expires by August. The Federal Aviation Administration needs to be reauthorized by September — as does the nation’s flood-insurance program.
There also is work to be done on the annual defense-policy bill — influenced this year by the ongoing showdowns with North Korea, Russia and Syria — a must-pass piece of legislation that is often used as a way to pass other unrelated items. And the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, but lawmakers in both parties warned in recent days that the House and Senate have not started working on a new budget plan.
Asked whether there is a plan to pass a budget for the next fiscal year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “I’m sure there is, I just haven’t detected it.”
Those Veterans Affairs scandals are ginned up and phony, but the Republicans believe their own bullshit and have poisoned their base against the best health provider in the country. If Trump wants to keep his promises to vets, he’s going to have a problem and, let’s face it, he’s going to fail. The White House is going to show no leadership on the FDA, FAA or a realistic plan for next year’s fiscal budget. They’ll probably be annoyed that Congress is setting aside their agenda and wasting time on the nuts and bolts of basic governance.
Congress doesn’t have the time or the bandwidth or the competent leadership or a coherent governing majority to accomplish the must-do things on their list, let alone to keep wasting energy on doomed legislative efforts that have zero buy-in from the Senate.
Probably the only thing Trump has going for him at this point is his own cluelessness about just how desperately insane he appears and how screwed he is. And all of this would be true even if the Russia problem didn’t exist. But, of course, it does exist and it will plague him once the testimony starts rolling in. At the latest, things will take an ugly turn by May 8th:
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify May 8 before a Senate judiciary investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s elections, her second congressional hearing at which she’s scheduled to testify within the span of a week.
Yates’ appearance before the Sen. Lindsey Graham-led Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism would mark her second time when the former Obama appointee has been called to the Hill to testify on Russia’s meddling. Yates has been invited to testify at a public hearing of the House intelligence committee to be scheduled after May 2. A date has not been confirmed yet.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence under former President Barack Obama, was also scheduled to appear before the Senate judiciary subcommittee in the same hearing as Yates.
Yates and Clapper can explain the whole Michael Flynn fiasco in painful and humiliating detail, and while they’ll probably be tight-lipped about the broader counterintelligence investigation, what they can confirm will be devastating to the administration.
That will just be an hors d’oeuvre for later testimony and possibly grand juries.
I can’t envision a single way Trump can win on anything, pretty much ever, under any foreseeable circumstances. And maybe what we’ll get is an impotent and stymied president explaining how everyone else is to blame. Our system is rotten. Both parties are colluding against him. The media is corrupt and fake.
Other presidents might find a way out in the unity that comes from a national security crisis. But he’s not capable of populating his own Pentagon and State Department, let alone talking about foreign policy in a way that might unite people behind his leadership. Bush was bad enough, but people felt like he had adults surrounding him and that we didn’t have a whole lot of choice but to give him a chance. Trump is at war with his own intelligence community and the State Department, and he couldn’t possibly have less credibility with the plurality of people who voted against him. That could become dangerous if the crisis is real and national unity is needed, but that’s all the more reason that he’s doomed.
There are still theoretical ways out of this mess, but they’re not realistic. He’s created a situation in which he’s wholly dependent on a party that is dysfunctional and that cannot and will not deliver for him. He can’t attack them or sideline them to approach the Democrats, and the Democrats wouldn’t have him if he tried.
He should quit. Honestly, he should see the writing on the wall and just quit. Parliamentary governments fail to form after elections all the time. It’s not all that unusual. This government isn’t going to work, and making us wait it out for three and a half years is as stupid as it is irresponsible.
There are no prospects for the Trump administration. It cannot and will not get better.