Don’t you hate it when your optimism proves unfounded?
He entered the New Year riding a wave of what appeared to be unprecedented political support — the most for a Republican in quite a few years. And what happened? Legislative fumbles in the first 100 days, and the second 100 days for that matter, produced story after story in the Opposition Media claiming the legislative honeymoon was over before it began.
Then there was the unseemly internal bickering with other Republican leaders, again extensively covered by the OpMedia. Externally, there were high-profile failures to honor major campaign promises.
And don’t forget the politically tin-eared statements to the media that alienated independent voters and kept critical news coverage going during any lulls between major upsets. This resulted in a collapse in his approval rating with both base and swing voters — possibly a crucial setback to any chance of re-election.
Analyzing this collapse is where the OpMedia’s grading on a strange curve comes into play. This master of political disaster who’s frittered away a huge opportunity is not Donald Trump. It’s the Curator of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, currently a political dead man walking. And still the OpMedia treats McConnell like he’s the politician completely in tune with the electorate.
A recent Public Policy Polling survey discovered that McConnell’s strategy of keeping Senate rules dusted, lubricated, and running smoothly until the Democrats take control again is a loser with voters that expected results. McConnell’s approval rating is a laughable 18 percent, while his disapproval rating is a stunning 74 percent. And this isn’t a nationwide poll where voters know little regarding McConnell other than the fact he’s chairman of the Can’t Do Caucus.
This is a Kentucky poll in his home state!
Among GOP voters McConnell’s approval is underwater at 28 percent approve and 64 percent disapprove. Independent voters are even more disdainful. Only 4 percent approve and 81 percent disapprove of McConnell’s lack of performance.
Compare McConnell’s pathetic home state numbers with Trump’s Kentucky numbers. Overall 60 percent approve of Trump’s performance and 36 percent disapprove. Among Republicans Trump’s support is almost four times that of McConnell, 86 to 28 percent. Independents favor Trump over McConnell by a factor of 14: 56 percent for Trump and 4 percent for Mitch.
The news hook here should be McConnell blocks Trump agenda and his support collapses at home. Instead, we get warnings that it’s a dangerous strategy for Trump to confront McConnell and the establishment GOP in the Senate and House.
National Review, which remains a hotbed of Never Trumpers, contends that instead of making senators who oppose him pay a price politically, Trump should be grateful for any crumbs that fall from legislative pygmy McConnell’s table.
Both the National Review and The Washington Post have identified the problem, but refuse to consider any remedy that doesn’t involve appeasement. The WaPost says, “For some time, it has been apparent that members of Congress do not fear the president” and NR writes, senators “not sufficiently scared of the White House.” That lack of respect, combined with the political classes’ disdain and personal contempt for Trump, means the usual hearts-and-minds strategy won’t produce the results Trump promised his voters.
That’s why his visit to Arizona was so encouraging. Arizona is home to the serial betraying RINO Sen. John McCain and the disrespectful Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. Prior to his visit Trump tweeted an almost endorsement of Flake’s primary challenger Kelli Ward. On the ground Trump met with two other potential Flake challengers.
That’s a great start, but if Trump really wants to defeat Flake and send an unmistakable message he needs to take two more steps. First he needs to fund his own political action committee and fund it with $50 to 75 million of his own money. Second, he needs to persuade Arizona conservatives to settle on a single Flake challenger. Once that’s done he can conduct an independent expenditure campaign on the challenger’s behalf.
Trump can consider adding Utah’s Orrin Hatch and Tennessee’s Bob Coker to the target list. Nothing motivates senate slugs like a threat to their self-interest. As on-again, off-again Trump advisor Roger Stone told The New York Times, “the GOP will fall in line once Trump has “taken a scalp” and starts “bumping off Republican members of Congress in primaries.”
Playing nice didn’t win the presidential primary for Trump and playing nice with a GOP senate, that holds him in as much contempt as Jeb Bush did, won’t either. Harry Truman ran against a “Do Nothing” Republican Congress and won. Donald Trump can run and win against another GOP Congress. Only now he demands it “Do Something!”
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.
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