I finally got around to reading Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s January opus on the dramedy going on inside the Trump administration. When this book came out in January, much of the talk was about whether it implied the president lacked the mental faculties to govern. But I think this book contains a more interesting angle–it illustrates precisely why the Trump administration is so erratic and inconsistent on policy and has helped complexify my understanding of how the admin works. Most importantly, it illustrates why other Republican administrations would be much more disturbing.
I’ve long argued that the Democratic Party needs to use its time in the wilderness to remake itself so it can pursue and deliver real benefits for poor and working class voters and be seen to do so in its campaigns. This remaking necessarily requires a period of disunity and chaos within the Democratic Party–central questions about what being a Democrat is for need to be asked, and different people will and should give different answers. Those differences should be resolved in blood-soaked primaries. But I’m increasingly concerned it’s not going to happen–too many Democrats seem to believe that the party needs to unify at all costs to present the strongest possible electoral challenge to Trump in 2018 and 2020. This is a dangerous misreading of the historical situation. The biggest threat to the United States is not the Trump presidency–it is the next Republican presidency, or perhaps the one after that. Let me explain…
The CBO has released its report on the senate’s version of Trumpcare and the numbers are once again pretty grim–22 million additional Americans would be without insurance by 2026. 15 million of the 22 million would already be kicked out by the 2018 midterms. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thought he could get Senate moderates to vote for the bill by delaying its Medicaid cuts, but the cuts are even larger than the House bill’s when they do come. There is deep opposition to this bill within the Republican ranks, and I seriously doubt whether the Republicans are capable of passing this bill, or any other major healthcare bill, for that matter. Read the rest of this entry »
After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, the Republican Party establishment decided it needed to expand its base and wrote a report to this effect. The plan was for the party to triangulate to some degree on immigration and social issues to win more votes from Hispanics and women, moderating its positions and principles to make itself more attractive to these demographic groups. As Jeb Bush flamed out, Marco Rubio became the poster boy of this new style of conservative politics. But the Republican anti-establishment never bought into this strategy. Led by Ted Cruz, they firmly believed that Romney lost because he failed to excite the Republican base and that the answer was for the party to nominate a “true conservative”. The 2016 Republican primary was all set to be a showdown between “reform conservatism” and the Cruz counterrevolution, but then Donald Trump showed up and made the whole thing about him and about the public’s growing economic frustration. It now looks increasingly likely (but far from certain) that Trump will lose by a significant margin. What effect will that have on this debate and the party’s prospects in 2020?
With the abrupt departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative Party leadership contest, Theresa May has cruised into number 10 as Britain’s new PM. To many, it appears that the Tory establishment has reasserted control over the Conservative Party. But I’m not convinced this is true–when Mitt Romney won the 2012 Republican primary, many people assumed that this meant the Republican establishment was in firm control, but within just four years Donald Trump had run Romney and the rest of the establishment Republicans off the Tarpeian Rock. Indeed, a close look at the data reveals that just as the 2012 result concealed deep weaknesses within the Republican establishment, the Tory establishment remains extremely vulnerable. May owes her victory to the incompetence and disorganization of her rivals, and she will need to be extraordinarily careful to preserve it.