Thursday, September 7, 2017

Prime Minister Pelosi

In the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, received from Emperor Akihito in May 2015.
So Schumer is now Lord Chancellor of the Exchecquer, and Pelosi is Prime Minister, or something like that, presenting his imperial majesty with a fiscal program while Ryan and McConnell bite their lips in frustrated rage. Trump's decided to accept a deal in which the debt ceiling is raised (just enough to last three months) and current spending levels are maintained, and there's $8 billion for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, just a few hours after Ryan announced that that deal couldn't be done (he and McConnell want something much longer-term so that Democrats won't have any leverage with them until after the 2018 elections).

All right on schedule, and foreseeable from the day the Senate Republicans couldn't pass that stupid last-ditch health bill, if not earlier. The Republicans are really broken as a parliamentary party now, and getting anything real done in Congress is going to require not just Democratic votes, as we've started understanding, but Democratic leadership.

BooMan is seeing it this way too, at least in part: we shouldn't be seeing Schumer as some kind of genius negotiator, he emphasizes, and still less Trump, because this deal was inevitable from the moment Ryan and McConnell sold Trump the intrinsically doomed idea of beginning the term with the repeal of Obamacare followed by a big tax reform:

Trump had to pivot to the Democrats at this point not because he’s some brilliant strategist but because, as I have been explaining over and over again, the plan Ryan and McConnell sold him did not work. And he ran out of time and had no other choice remaining to him but to go to the Democrats and beg them for help on the debt ceiling and avoiding a government shutdown. He made sure to spend a few weeks prior to this pivot feeding red meat to his base which helped him disguise his capitulation. Even DACA was a head fake, where he made asking for the DREAM Act seem like he was about to deport the Dreamers. But that’s part of the same pivot. He felt he had to make a decision on DACA and he didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t willing to expel them. In any case, Trump went into this meeting needing the Democrats’ support and with the Republican leaders needing some cover for the deal they were all about to agree to. He got the support and provided the cover.
That's an interesting picture of Trump being more strategic than we'd typically give him credit for, because it also rings true: the dilemma we were talking about yesterday, where he'd solemnly promised to end the DACA program and also solemnly promised not to deport the Dreamers, resolved with such a Trumpian move, where he pretends to end the DACA program, delighting his "base" and enraging Latino Americans, and gets somebody else to stab his base in the back and undo the move—Democrats!—for him.

BooMan takes it as a done deal there that Congress is going to pass the Dream Act, too, or something close to it, which strikes me as more significant, and seemed to strike Trump that way as well:

“We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Mr. Trump told reporters after the Oval Office session without mentioning that Mr. Ryan and other Republican leaders had also attended. Regarding the immigration program, Mr. Trump said, “Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I.”
Heh. I told you so, scoffers (that was just Tuesday!).

To me the whole thing is a ratification of the fact that the Republican majorities in House and Senate really don't exist any more, and for reasons more fundamental than Ryan's and McConnell's incompetence in managing Trump's agenda back in January and February. It's the intrinsic unsustainability of the Republican coalition between the country club and the hillbillies, which was bound to break apart sooner or later, and most likely to break over immigration, as I've been saying since at least May 2013:
When the Nixonians first pitched the big tent of the Southern Strategy which was to join together the Republicans of yacht club and country club with the unreconstructed nullificationists of the South, it was always a doomed coalition, and immigration was the issue that doomed it. Snake-Handler issues like abortion and exotic sexual proclivities were not a problem, since the White Shoes did what they did in private, and the yahoos didn't need to know about it; White Shoe issues like the pathological hatred of taxation were not a problem, because the Snake-Handlers didn't know how to read their returns and learn that they were not paying any taxes. But Tories cannot hide that they like immigration, and Know-Nothings cannot abide it. 
The bizarre accident of Trump's election—over immigration more than any other issue, by the way, and by a base that is basically the 1840s Know-Nothings, that is the anti-immigrant party (and the party of the Ku Klux Klan, which always hated Catholics and Jews just as much as they hated blacks, maybe even more, though of course they tortured and lynched many many more blacks)—is what definitively broke it. Now the only things that are going to get done before the 2018 elections are going to be things that can be done by a coalition of Democrats and Tories, which means fiscal stability in the continuing resolutions and raising of debt ceilings, some positive action on immigration, and I believe some stabilization of the Affordable Care Act, as in the bipartisan bill being proposed by Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander, which has to be finished before Open Enrollment starts on November 1. And there won't be any tax bill.

Where Trump stands in the situation is where he always stands, wherever he can take the most credit and do the least work, just as he's done in the hotel business and on TV. He needs a prime minister, as any emperor does, and Pelosi can obviously do the job—can hardly help doing it, in the now complete power vacuum of Ryan's House. His base will take a long time to understand he's abandoned them, as long as he keeps tweeting to them and doing rallies, and Bannon runs the partisan press coverage from Breitbart, and the "objective" press coverage refuses to say anything explicitly about it. (Though they're bound to figure it out eventually, hopefully by next year's elections—it would be nice if they got mad enough to decide not to vote.)

Trump may believe further that in making a "deal" he is insulating himself from the Mueller investigation and impeachment—that he's made himself "partners" who will protect him, because that's the way he thinks, as we always see by the way he mixes up national security and trade issues as if these are just ancillary to his personal relationships with world leaders, the way emperors think. I think there's plenty of hope that he's wrong about that.

Update: Speaking of anti-Catholic Know-Nothings and their relation to the Trump movement, this, via Crooks & Liars:

Even though Bannon's a Catholic himself. "This is not about doctrine!" he explained, "This is about the sovereignty of a nation."

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