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Trump says he’ll work with Democrats

PETER O’CONNOR
Staff Columnist
oconnor@lbknews.com

This may be in the form of an apologia, from Columnist to Editor.  I’m sure that you will take same in good grace.

If I were to continue my sometimes critiques of our President, it would take on the look of this by Peggy Noonan.

Alas our Readers may tire of this subject (your call).  I certainly have been warned by some around here to get off Mr. Trump.  I do not shrink from such threats, as I know you don’t.  Anyway Ms. Noonan may have summed it up here – for your edification…oc

I take the unusual step of sharing my comment to my Editor before completing this piece for publication in our Paper.  As he takes the admirable position of not telling us what to write, I’ll proceed.  I do plan to cut back on coverage of our President.  I consider the current media blitz against the President unhealthy for the Nation.

You’ll see less on the subject from this correspondent.  This might please some of our readers.  But for now: Mr. Riley -

“In one of his last interviews before leaving office, President Obama was asked to explain what drove the consistent Republican opposition to his legislative agenda.  The interviewer, Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, suggested (as you might have expected) that GOP lawmakers acted out of racial bias.  The president offered (as you might not have expected) a more practical explanation.

‘If Republicans didn’t cooperate’, said Mr. Obama, ‘and there was not a portrait of bipartisan cooperation and a functional federal government, then the party in power would pay the price and they could win back the Senate and/or the House.  That wasn’t an inaccurate political calculation.’

After Republicans blocked President Trump’s plans to replace ObamaCare, he vowed to work with Democrats in Congress if necessary to advance his policy agenda.  But this strategy presupposes that Democrats are interested in helping the administration succeed,   As even Mr. Obama acknowledged, full resistance paid big dividends for the GOP as Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014 and the presidency last November.  Some Democrats from states Mr. Trump carried, such as Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are supporting  the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, and might back the administration on other issues – but these are party outliers, not trailblazers,”

Riley continues:  “ Mr. Trump’s overall approval rating is already historically low for a first-term president, and it’s just 12% among Democrats, according to a CBS News poll released last week.  If you are Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, why get in the way of this Republican intraparty row?  A new president’s party usually loses seats in the first midterm election, which would only increase the Democrats’ political leverage after 2018.

Mr. Trump would do better to unify his own party and show voters that Republicans can deliver on their promises of economic growth and job creation.  Instead the president has been busy berating conservative lawmakers who refused to support the White House health-care bill.  In fact, Mr. Trump has threatened to fight them in the 2018 midterm elections.  Democrats are no doubt thrilled at the prospect of Mr. Trump expending precious political capital to bludgeon congressmen from his own party, but it may be an idle threat.

Like other members of the House Freedom Caucus, these lawmakers represent some of the most conservative districts in the country, where their ideological purity tends to be an asset, not  liability.

Still, most GOP lawmakers aren’t part of the Freedom Caucus, and more-moderate members of Congress also opposed the ObamaCare reform.  Nearly two dozen Republicans in the House represent districts Hillary Clinton won, and many of them balked at how the White House legislation would have affected edicaid and insurance coverage for people over 55.  It isn’t only conservatives Mr. Trump needs to worry about.”

Riley wraps up:  “Democrats are counting on Mr. Trump’s low approval rating and Republican disunity to work to their advantage. That turned out to be a mistake during last year’s campaign, but the Freedom Caucus is also making a mistake in treating President Trump the way they treated President Obama.  Democrats are secure in the knowledge that voters will blame the party in charge for dysfunction, the Republicans are in charge.

Many on the left continue to be in denial about why Mr. Trump won the presidency, insisting  that racists, misogynists and xenophobes carried the day.  But even articles in the New York Times are now acknowledging the reality.  ‘If turnout played only a modest role in Mr. Trump’s victory’ the paper reported last week, ‘then the big driver of his gains was persuasion: He flipped millions of white working-class Obama supporters to his side.’

“In other words, swing voters elected Mr. Trump.  And if Republicans don’t show they can govern there’s nothing to stop these voters from swinging back to where they came from.”

This coverage is an example, I think, of reasonable treatment of the presidency by the legislature.  Hopefully, we can get back to this.

 

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