Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Is GOP Support for Trump Starting to Crack?

Having grown up in a family that always discussed politics around the dinner table and at family gatherings - and usually voted Republican - I've heard about politics since I was a child.  Never in my recollection, however, do I recall as much concern about a lawless president who frankly appears to be mentally ill.  Not even during the height of Watergate was there the level of concern that seems to increase daily with Trump as he makes it increasingly clear that he views himself above the law.  His suggestions that he wants an FBI that reports directly to him and, by implication, is loyal only to him smacks of being the beginning of a secret police that would protect Trump at all cost and intimidate citizens and other elected officials. The level of his desperation over the Russiagate investigations increasingly suggests that money laundering and other serious crimes must have occurred.  One simply does not act this way if there is nothing to hide.  And then there is the issue of the company Trump has kept: Mafia figures, Russian mobsters, and Russian oligarchs.  One has to wonder if and when Congressional Republicans will cease averting their eyes to the Frankenstein monster in the White House.  A column suggests that perhaps support for Trump is beginning to crack.  Here are excerpts:
Again and again over the past year, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have had to decide what kind of behavior they are willing to tolerate from Donald Trump. Again and again, McConnell and Ryan have bowed down to Trump.
They have mumbled occasional words of protest, sometimes even harsh ones, like Ryan’s use of “racist” last year. Then they have gone back to supporting Trump.
The capitulation of McConnell and Ryan has created an impression — especially among many liberals — that congressional Republicans stand behind the president.
But don’t be fooled: Republican support for the president has started to crack.
Below the leadership level, Republicans are defying Trump more often, and McConnell and Ryan aren’t always standing in their way. You can see this defiance in the bipartisan Senate investigation of the Russia scandal. You can see it in the deal on Russian sanctions. And you can see it in the Senate’s failure, so far at least, to pass a health care bill.
I think many political observers are missing the ways that parts of Trump’s own party have subtly begun to revolt.
Just listen to Trump himself. “It’s very sad that Republicans,” he wrote in a weekend Twitter rant, “do very little to protect their President.” In a historical sense, he is right. Members of Congress usually support a new president of their own party much more strongly than Republicans are now.
They typically understand that a young presidency offers the rare opportunity for sweeping legislation — like the Reagan tax cut, the George W. Bush tax cut, the Clinton deficit plan and the Obama stimulus, health bill and financial regulation.  . . . . partisan loyalty is the norm.
Matt Glassman, another political scientist, is one of the sharper observers of the White House-Congress relationship, and I asked him to put the current situation in context. Glassman said that many progressives have made the mistake of comparing how they want Congress to treat Trump with what it is doing. The more relevant yardstick is how Congress’s treatment compares historically.
“The current congressional G.O.P. seems less supportive and more constraining of the Potus than basically any in history,”
Many of today’s Republicans avoid going on television as Trump surrogates. They mock him off the record, and increasingly on the record, too. In recent weeks, eight senators have publicly stood in the way of a health care bill. Republican senators are also helping to conduct an investigation of Trump’s campaign and have backed the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
One reason is that they don’t fear Trump. About 90 percent of Republican House members won a larger vote share in their district last year than Trump did . . . . Since he took office, Trump’s nationwide net approval rating has fallen to minus 16 (with only 39 percent approving) from plus 4.  So it’s not just Republican politicians who are inching away from Trump. Republican voters are, too.
None of this is meant to suggest that congressional Republicans have been profiles in courage. They haven’t been.
In the months ahead, unfortunately, that level of resistance is unlikely to be sufficient. Trump has made clear that he isn’t finished trying to take health insurance away from millions of people or trying to hide the truth about his Russia ties. “The constitutional crisis won’t be if Trump fires Mueller,” as the A.C.L.U.’s Kate Oh put it. “The constitutional crisis is if Congress takes no real action in response.”

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