No better enemies
When he won the election of 2016, even Donald Trump appeared surprised. Not since 1948 had there been such an upset. Republicans who rallied to his candidacy late to preserve their Congressional majorities were surprised that for the first time in eight years they had one of their own in the White House. Well, sort of — Trump, many GOP leaders thought, had pulled off a hostile takeover in Cleveland. But here he was and here they were.
Afterwards GOP leaders, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Paul Ryan in the House of Representatives, tried to guide their allegedly political novice. They simply had hired the man, and with their guidance would make Trump a proper president. Especially on issues of national security, they surrounded him with hawks and dared him to challenge their power. With the passage of tax cuts they had their man or so they thought.
But Trump was also independent, agreeing to cooperate with Democrats with continuing resolutions to avoid shutdowns. Cussing and protesting every step of the way, Trump got larger and larger budgets. As well, he kept his promise not to touch Social Security and Medicare, although he was relentless in his hostility to the Affordable Care Act. But at least he did not embrace the likes of Ben Sasse or McConnell who, with an increased majority, would go to town on these venerable reforms.
Indeed, the Republicans have not completely warmed to Trump as it appears. True, they have received their judicial nominees — the last one in a bitter fight. And Trump embraced Brett Kavanaugh which put him in charge of his so-called Republican bosses. Democrats, obsessed over Merrick Garland, made a tactical error to go to the edge against the nomination and were defeated.
Indeed, the defeat was due partially because of teasing and flirtation from Republicans and,it pains me to say it, “moderates.”
It was not Trump that set the trap, it was Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. He went for a long shot with people whom Trump never respected or trusted. But because Democrats so despise the president, they are blinded by their own fury. Never exploiting the differences between Trump and his on-again, off-again allies, Democrats essentially united the GOP. Problem was that they proceeded from the wrong end of that coalition, ignoring Trump and attempting to corral Republicans.
It is 1973 all over again, when even liberal Democrats praised Sam “I am just a country lawyer” Ervin in their efforts to get Richard Nixon. Forget detente, forget that their domestic goals were reached, Democrats desired to win by utilizing some of the most reactionary agents in Washington. Meanwhile, the GOP was moving to the right and by 1980 nominated and elected Ronald Reagan. Democrats played a major role in shaping the agenda which stopped liberalism in its progress and helped ensconce right-wing Conservatism.
Same thing with Trump, Democrats focused on the Robert Mueller investigation and Russia. All the while they sided with the Confederate throw back, Jeff Sessions, any FBI official you can conjure up and militant neo-Conservatives. Some lineup, ignoring the progress that was being made by organized labor on many fronts after years of stagnation. Although it was not because of Trump, nevertheless it provided an opportunity. Democrats made a cardinal error by taking Republicans into their counsel.
This total dismissal of Trump played into his hands and managed to give him leverage over skeptical Republicans. He has had no better enemies.