And to emphasize the point:
Raging, weakened Trump is running out of options
Trump also just raged at the media for supposedly exaggerating Republican splintering over his shutdown strategy, insisting there is “GREAT unity” among them. For Trump supporters, any whiff of weakness or failure on his part can be instantly dispelled by a tweet describing it as a “fake news” fabrication (which also has the virtue of portraying him as “fighting”).
But the reality is quite different. The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reports that even some Republicans believe Trump’s position is weakening, and they have discerned a flaw in his strategy. These Republicans point out that behind the scenes, the administration is taking steps to mitigate the impact of the shutdown on real people, such as keeping tax refunds and food stamps flowing, which they say illustrates that the shutdown is rebounding on Trump.
As one GOP strategist puts it: “Republicans have pulled a gun and taken themselves hostage. When you’re mitigating the negative impacts against yourself, you have a political problem.”
Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No’
Back at the Capitol, Pelosi was needling Trump again. “We’ve been having conversations with him. But you cannot come to a conclusion if the president of the United States says ‘My way or the highway, there’s nothing to negotiate and, by the way, I am willing to hold the American, our federal workers hostage to my view,’” she said. “How pathetic is his argument, if he doesn’t even have confidence that he can prevail in the negotiation if he has to shut down government to strengthen his hand.”
Asked how this compared to past negotiations, she replied, “It wasn’t even a high-stakes negotiation. It was a petulant president of the United States. A person who would say, ‘I’ll keep government shut down for weeks, months or years unless I get my way.’ ” She explained, “That’s just not the way democracy works, and so it’s very sad. And the sad part of it is, that when you are having a negotiation, you can’t negotiate unless you stipulate to fact and the president is presenting notions that really do not relate to fact, evidence, data or truth.” Facts! Democracy! Harrumph, says the White House.
So just remember, expulsion is 2/3 vote but censure is a majority.
MEDIA CAN KICK ITS HORSERACE ADDICTION—AND IT MUST
This approach would place substance at the center of the campaign reporting project, but it is also the recipe for serving news consumers a dog’s breakfast of parochial concerns and competing priorities. A better question for journalists to explore—one that would bring to bear the standard reportorial toolkit of the Trump-country diner genre—is whether various candidate agendas are responsive to real, identifiable human problems. Why are the candidates running on the ideas they’re running on? Every presidential candidate develops a platform, and never once in the history of democracy has a candidate adopted a governing agenda entirely at random. Rather, candidates adopt their proposals in response to a variety of pressures, including from donors, constituents, and their own perceptions of what’s politically viable.
Why are most Democratic presidential candidates embracing a program of Medicare-based universal health care? Is it literally true that the current health-care system leaves tens of millions of people uninsured? Would those people lives be materially improved if America had a single-payer health-care system? Do those people hope a candidate who supports single payer wins the election? There are, of course, other stakeholders in the health-care debate, but they, too, are approachable humans, just like Trump supporters in rural diners. Do doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators want to insure the uninsured? What if it reduces their income-per-patient? Do the health care professionals in rural America think the Republican resistance to Medicaid expansion has been good for their communities? Where do the answers to those questions leave them, politically, with elections looming?
That’s just one issue, but the model can be applied across the whole range.
The Exceptions to the Rulers
When people of color enter elite spaces, they’re often attacked as undeserving charlatans. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no different.
Trump is president in large part because of his ability to speak to this insecurity. The New York real-estate mogul’s embrace of the conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in America, and was therefore an illegitimate president, was crucial to his rise in the Republican Party. During the 2016 campaign, for every problem America faced, Trump found an enemy, an outsider to blame: Latino immigrants stealing jobs and lowering wages, Muslims engaging in terrorism, black men committing crimes. Then there were the white liberals, such as Elizabeth Warren, whose claim to American Indian heritage was touted as proof that the system is rigged to the advantage of undeserving people of color—so much so that even white liberals seek to get in on the scam. Part of the reason Republicans have continued to taunt Warren with the slur “Pocahontas” over the protests of Native communities is because the falsehood that Warren obtained her professorship at Harvard by claiming to be a person of color reminds the GOP base that they are being fleeced by the unworthy.
The unworthy, in this case, are not the legislators and their wealthy benefactors who have worked tirelessly for decades to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few, at the expense of American welfare and democracy. Rather, they are marginalized communities and their white liberal allies, who maintain a corrupt spoils system for black and brown people at the expense of hardworking white Americans. As long as rank-and-file Republicans are focused on these supposed villains, they won’t realize who is being conned, and who is trying to con them. And it isn’t Ocasio-Cortez.
One last thought on emergency powers: Some people see the label and think this is something like the Roman dictatorship. It’s not.
The president has been granted, *by statute*, various powers that he can exercise pursuant to various declarations of emergency. The Brennan Center has a very helpful list of those powers and their triggering conditions:
Trump declaring an emergency might be a bad-faith use of a statutory scheme–and a court might even find that it was so bad faith as to be in violation of that scheme–but it is at least purportedly pursuant to statutes passed by Congress.
As a result, questions like, “But couldn’t he just continue the emergency forever, appropriate funds to himself, appropriate land without formally exercising eminent domain, etc.?” are off-base. That’s not the sort of power anyone is talking about here.