Donald Trump's defining characteristic - even more than his pathological lying - is his malignant narcissism. Everything is ALWAYS about him and he simply cannot accept anything or anyone that doesn't support his "Sun King" vision of himself. The good news is that this characteristic may help Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives - and with luck, the U.S. Senate. Trump forgets that a huge number of voters failed to vote in the 2016 presidential election and that his win traces to only about 27% of voters and a 70,000 vote spread across three states. If those who stayed home (or those who feel they made a huge mistake) turn out in disgust with Trump and/or the GOP's reverse Robin Hood policies, things could be brutal for Republicans. A piece in New York Magazine looks at how Trump may further wound the GOP. Here are highlights:
PresidentTrump’s most bedrock character traits is his refusal to truly reckon with any piece of information that reflects poorly on him. This self-aggrandizing, reality-denying flavor of egotism has defined Trump for decades, through his roller-coaster business career and into political life. In recent months, it has sometimes veered into the straight-up delusional, as when he reportedly claimed last year that it wasn’t actually his voice on the Access Hollywood tape.Trump’s insistence that everything is going great was validated in unprecedented fashion when he won the presidency despite some of the strongest headwinds imaginable, shocking almost everyone — possibly including, on some deep level, himself.
But now, finally, [Trump's]
the president’sunwavering confidence may finally be about to take a serious electoral toll. The New York Times reported on Saturday that in the runup to the midterm elections this fall, PresidentTrump is simply not listening to advisers and lawmakers who tell him what anyone can plainly see: Republicans are in deep trouble:
Congressional and party leaders and even some Trump aides are concerned that [Trump's]
the president’sboundless self-assurance about politics will cause him to ignore or undermine their midterm strategy. In battleground states like Arizona, Florida and Nevada, Mr. Trump’s proclivity to be a loose cannon could endanger the Republican incumbents and challengers who are already facing ferocious Democratic headwinds.
In election after election over the last year and a half, Democrats have vastly over performed their expected vote share, largely thanks to animus toward the president. They have triumphed in a Pennsylvania Congressional district where Trump won by more than 20 points, picked up a Senate seat in ruby-red Alabama, dominated state races in Virginia, and made close several contests that almost certainly would have been Republican landslides in previous years. . . . Republicans have been sounding the alarm for months.
Trump’s reaction to all this: everything will be just fine.
The Times piece also reports that, as his fellow Republicans fret, Brad Parscale, [Trump's]
the president’spollster, is feeding him inaccurate, Trump-friendly poll numbers, which [Trump] the presidentis more than happy to parade on Twitter.
Why does this matter? Most presidents, even if they claim not to be obsessed with polls the way Trump is, have a pretty good idea of their own political currency, and adjust their alignment with their parties accordingly.
Something different is going on this time around.
PresidentTrump remains enormously popular within the Republican Party; most Republican members of Congress have made the calculation that even if Trump is underwater in their state, defying Trump the presidentwould be a political loser, since it leave them without any reliable constituency.
The problem is not only that Trump refuses to believe that Republicans will lose, but that, even if he were sufficiently worried, he doesn’t care enough about his own party to bother helping.
Establishment Republicans reportedly want Trump to flog the GOP’s unpopular tax law on the campaign trail. [Trump]
The presidentis pushing back on this directive — which he is right to do, since the unpopular law probably isn’t galvanizing anyone to vote.
the president’sown, predictably unpredictable routine is unlikely to work much better. He might attack vulnerable Republican Senators he disagrees with; he might serve more as a distraction than a cheerleader, . . . This routine won’t turn off voters who already love [Trump] the president. But it’s more likely to spark another Trump news cycle than rally much-needed enthusiasm for Republican candidates.
The GOP’s best hope may be to invent reasons that red-state Democrats are hurting Trump personally, then watch him go wild on Twitter and the campaign trail.
Republicans seem to have grasped the lesson that Trump needs to be personally invested in their election results. They are trying to make the stakes of the election startlingly personal, reportedly telling Trump that if he doesn’t help them out this fall, they may not have his back if and when Democrats initiate impeachment proceedings next year. That stark warning may perk Trump’s ears up, but it’s just as likely to be perceived as an unacceptable intramural threat, not as motivation to work for the party.
[Trump] will continue living in a bubble of his own making. Because Trump was right to dismiss the concerns of the many, many people who insisted he couldn’t win in 2016, he can now perennially point to that shocking election result as proof that his instincts, not some politico egghead’s, are always correct. And if Republicans lose big this year, he’ll just say they didn’t stick by him closely enough.
It’s a dishonest, solipsitic approach to life. But it’s one that has worked shockingly well for Donald Trump.