Martin "BooMan" Longman has been around the liberal blogosphere for a long time, and I first got my start writing over at his place so many years ago. He's maintained his space for over a decade now and you can find him over at Washington Monthly's invaluable Political Animal blog along with another crucial voice in Nancy LeTourneau. Anyway, the point of all this that Martin has a pretty damned good track record on how things have panned out over the years, and he's only been all the more accurate with his analysis and predictions as America enters the Age of Trump.
Reading the New York Times last night and this morning, I felt like I had been plagiarized. It seems that what was once a lonely voice is rapidly becoming common wisdom. It’s been a recurring theme of my analysis for months that the Trump administration had blundered badly by marrying his unorthodox and in many cases heretical campaign for the Republican nomination and presidency with a strategy that is wholly reliant on conventional conservative Republicans for implementation and passage.
In particular, the decision to sign off on the never-before-attempted plan to pass two budget reconciliation bills in a single fiscal year is beginning to look like a narrow-alley dead end in a very bad neighborhood. The idea was that the Republicans could take advantage of the fact that since they never did their budget work last year they still had the opportunity to finish that up with a health care bill that only requires fifty votes to pass (with the vice-president breaking any tie). They could then use the same legislative trick to pass tax reform in this year’s budget plan at a fifty vote threshold. Without getting into all the parliamentary rigamarole that’s involved, the most significant consequence of adopting this plan was that the administration believed and acted as if they would never need a single Democratic vote for anything, ever.
And of course that's what the Trumpistas believe, that well beyond Newt Gingrich's declaration of Bill Clinton's irrelevance in 1997 is the unshakable fanaticism that just because Trump defied the odds and the pollsters (with or without Russian help, mind you) and won in November, that the Democrats and their voters no longer matter, no longer have any political power, any voice, any franchise, or any rights as citizens. We're not even Americans to them at this point, the country has moved on into a Brave New World of Trump.
Only, reality has come a-knockin', and Mitch and Paul Ryan just aren't up to fixing this mess.
If that looks familiar it’s because I’ve written essentially the same thing over and over again. It’s not just health care and tax reform that are in peril. If Trump attempts to raise the debt ceiling using nothing but Republican votes, he will fail, too. If he tries to pass appropriations bills without any Democratic support, the government will either shut down or be funded on continuing resolutions that keep Obama’s priorities in place. He will not get an infrastructure bill without significant Democratic input and support.
Not only can he not govern successfully using this strategy, he cannot govern at all. This is why I foresaw that his administration would crack up on the shoals sometime this summer, and certainly no later than September when the fiscal year ends and the debt ceiling becomes critical.
Most concerning was the prospect and likelihood that he had painted himself into a corner and would discover that he had no way of recovering from the mess he’d made. As McConnell’s plan for Obamacare repeal faltered, he began warning his caucus of exactly what I am explaining now. But it was too late and the plan was never going to work anyway. The only thing that McConnell had to use in support of a bill that the people hate was the direness of the consequences of failure. But either he doesn’t understand the severity of the problem or he was unable to communicate it effectively enough. Perhaps it’s just not salvageable on any level, since the only way to delay their fate is to pass a bill that would strip 22 million people of their access to health care.
The consequences will begin to pile up now. Trump will lash out in ever more confusing and bizarre ways. And then the indictments and plea deals will start to flow in from Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s shop. By Thanksgiving, if not before, the nation will be confronted with the urgent need to remove Trump from power and I suspect there will be more consensus about it by then than most people can imagine right now.
Not only do I believe Martin is right, I think the reality of the just how bad this can get is going to hit long before Thanksgiving, especially if Trump botches the debt ceiling or stomps his way into a shooting conflict somewhere. Trump still has most of Obama's economy right now. Should the economic consequences of Trumpism arrive sooner rather than later and the Dow goes from 21,000 to 16,000 again, you are going to see Republicans head for the exits at near relativistic velocities.
The larger point is that Martin predicted Trump's inability to govern would be what sinks the guy, and that's looking more likely than ever after just five months on the job. The State Department is at this point in shambles, the FBI, CIA, and NSA are having a good old time plying connect-the-dots with Trump's Russian buddies, it's all the Pentagon can do to keep Trump from burning down the Middle East, and morale is so bad at the rest of the executive branch agencies due to purges and proposed massive budget cuts that it's all starting to come unglued.
And it's only end of June, some 22 weeks in. We can't even see the bottom yet, but we're on the way down so fast that the fog is beginning to clear just from the speed of our descent.