Donald deals with the Dems
President Donald Trump’s tilting toward the Democrats was a masterstroke. After the hurricanes in Florida and Texas created a need for a generous federal government, Trump, along with Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, combined to raise the debt limit. With the fecklessness of the GOP leadership in the House and Senate, Trump wisely decided to try another approach. He also hinted that he would keep DACA, this time making it permanent.
Trump found Schumer pleasant to work with. The green eyeshaded “Freedom Caucus,” with all the other ideological mishmash of the GOP Congress, proved incapable in governing. The same hard-headed clique that bedeviled John Boehner finally drove Trump toward compromise. With Schumer and Pelosi, he got not theories and treatises on government but results.
Dwight Eisenhower had a similar experience with the GOP controlled Congress in 1953 through 1955. In his first year, the Republican leadership gave him headaches, questioning his appointees continuing Joseph McCarthy’s crusade to expose alleged Communists and trying to restrict the executive branch prerogatives in foreign policy. By 1954, Eisenhower, fed up, built a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, led by Lyndon Johnson in the Senate and Sam Rayburn in the House. They secured his appointments, stopped the Bricker Amendment and helped censure McCarthy.
After 1954, especially when Democrats won back the House and Senate, Eisenhower kept his coalition of moderate Republicans and his new allies. Much was accomplished including the 1956 Highway Act, which established the interstate system. Eisenhower expanded Social Security, ending Conservative Republican hopes to repeal Franklin Roosevelt’s program.
Eisenhower, like Trump, found some right-wingers to be stubborn. In one case, he stated that “any party that wanted to end Social Security would not be a party for long.” Trump discovered in Houston that there was more to governing then appeasing the “base.” Even DACA was cleverly done because he allowed Jefferson Davis Sessions to announce the ending of the program, just when he was ready to strike the deal with the Democrats. And, of course, the “Freedom Caucus” fireeaters crowed on cue.
As Rick in “Casablanca” remarked to the Vichy prefect as they prepared to leave, “this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Particularly Schumer and Trump have a good rapport. If they can promote infrastructure and possibly negotiate a healthcare system that makes sense, the problems of Trump’s first year may be worth something. Since Steve Bannon got the boot, Trump’s presidency is less the nightmare than it was becoming. Trump deserves credit for not being ideological, mean-spirited and hard-headed in the last four weeks. Smiles are better than scowls and perhaps a new presidency has been born from the wreck of his first months.