Trumpism Ain’t What It Used to Be

Today’s our day off. The Manhattan trial resumes tomorrow. Tomorrow is also when the SCOTUS will hear Trump’s immunity argument. Yesterday the Senate signed off on the aid packages for Ukraine, Israel, et al., and today President Biden signed them. There are other things going on today, but for now I want to look at Congress.

It appears this is Let’s Take Marjorie Taylor Greene Down a Few Pegs Week for congressional Republicans. This is from The Hill:

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) took a shot at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Tuesday, saying she is “dragging our brand down.”

“She is a horrible leader,” Tillis said of Greene, according to audio played on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “She is dragging our brand down. She — not the Democrats — are the biggest risk to us getting back to a majority.”

Michelle Cottle writes at the New York Times,

It’s not simply that Ms. Greene has taken such a Putin-pleasing approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine (Ukrainian Nazis? Really?) that the term “useful idiot” feels unavoidable. She has, in very little time, undermined the influence of her party’s entire right flank, driving less unhinged Republicans — most notably the House speaker, Mike Johnson — to brush back her and her ilk like the poo-flinging chaos monkeys they are.

Just look at what has come to pass in the House in the past several days: Mr. Johnson, a proud ultraconservative, pushed through a $95 billion foreign aid package, including $60 billion for Ukraine, with more Democratic votes than Republican ones. He is now counting on Democrats to save him from the Greene-led extremists’ plan to defenestrate him and install yet another Republican as speaker. There is much buzz about the emergence of a bipartisan governing coalition in the House, albeit one born of desperation. Squint hard, and Congress almost looks to be functioning as intended, with a majority of members coming together to advance vital legislation. With her special brand of MAGA extremism, Ms. Greene has shifted the House in a bipartisan direction (at least for now) in exactly the way her base loathes. 

See also How Republicans Castrated Themselves at Axios and Trump’s Followers Were Asleep at the Switch at CNN.

It must be that Republican conventional wisdom is saying that going through another change in Speaker now will hurt them in November. Even Donald Trump is telling MTG to lay off Mike Johnson. Trump may love Vlad Putin, but he loves keeping his ass out of prison even more. In any event I’ve seen several opinion pieces this week saying that the Mike Johnson recall is going nowhere at the moment.

Jonathan Martin at Politico writes that Mike Johnson “is taming Trump and his party.” That’s going a bit too far, I think. My sense of things is that the smarter Republicans are realizing that Trump and his base may have peaked, and that it’s okay to begin to back away from MAGA. It’s subtle, but IMO the signs are there.

Republicans were so disciplined to march in lockstep reciting the same talking points for so long. But that’s when they were all taking marching orders from people like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. Ruthless and smart. Now they’re all taking cues from Trump or people in his orbit. Still ruthless, but not so smart. Indeed, making the Republican Party all about Trump instead of all about some agenda is the heart of the problem, because as a political cause Trump is a void; he’s empty air. If he disappeared tomorrow, there’d be nothing cohesive to hold his “movement” together. And where would that leave the Republican Party?

Where are they now, even? Trump is trying to get his “base” to rally around him, to hold demonstrations, to get in their pickup trucks and go back to running Democrats off the roads. But they aren’t doing it. Will there be Trump trains this year as there were in 2020? I suppose it’s a bit early for that. I’m betting no, but I could be wrong.

As far as the House Republicans are concerned, the “Freedom” Caucus seems to have assumed that being in the minority doesn’t matter as long as they could intimidate everyone else. Whatever they wanted, all they had to do is throw fits and evoke the dread name “Trump,” and everyone else would fall in line. But it’s not working for them, and I’m not sure they’ve figured out why yet.

6 thoughts on “Trumpism Ain’t What It Used to Be

  1. Trump is trying to get his “base” to rally around him, to hold demonstrations, to get in their pickup trucks, and go back to running Democrats off the roads. But they aren’t doing it. Will there be Trump trains this year as there were in 2020? I suppose it’s a bit early for that. I’m betting no, but I could be wrong.

    The way it works: the on-the-fence types are leaving Trump (few or no pro-Trump people at the courtroom is one datapoint), but there are die-hards, some of whom are in prison for J6. Those die-hards still free, with $, have sunk it into Truth Social, the ultimate put your money where your beliefs are, a Trump investing high. Cash-thirsty Trump will pump and dump these followers. They'll finally wake up, after they've lost significant coin. 

  2. "…as a political cause Trump is a void; he’s empty air. If he disappeared tomorrow, there’d be nothing cohesive to hold his “movement” together. And where would that leave the Republican Party?"

    Exactly. The base is in favor of Trump because Trump is resentment and revenge in one bloated package of lies and graft. There's a bunch of twisted factions whose priorities overlap – some want racism reinstated as policy. Others a theocracy. Others pine for a form of government that hits all the characteristics of fascism. And there's resentment toward women with a voice. For the moment, they are lined up behind Trump but all these groups think they should be in charge. When Trump is out of the picture the LAST thing I expect is harmony. 

    Trump is losing his grip. Today, in two separate tweets, he called for Congress to intervene to stop the criminal cases AND to have the USSC intervene to declare the president is beyond the reach of the law AND for his followers to demonstrate in NYC or wherever they are to stop what's happening. The word "panic" seems to cover it. The base does not know or care – Fox is shoveling smoke to obscure what's developing. IDK if independent voters are starting to follow the trial and WHERE they are getting information. 

    Trump wants to invalidate a guilty verdict with MAGA and independents by calling the entire judicial process into doubt. So he's not standing when the judge walks in.  Outside the courtroom, he's bad-mouthing the judge and process (which the gag order permits.) A lot of polls and polling show the public has faith in the trial system, in part because regular citizens sit on the jury. It's the JURY who hears ALL the witnesses and sees the evidence. The proceedings are covered openly by the media, not done in secret. MAGA's gonna buy into the claim that the trial is rigged but will anyone else? 

    When the Soviet Union fell apart, it's said that the Russian mafia stepped in. Not out of patriotism but self-preservation. They wanted to know that what emerged from the ashes would not threaten them. The RNC is a subsidiary of the Trump campaign – they are not concerned with the party. They are trying to save Donald from jail. The GOP in Congress could not tell you how many sides make up a square. So who's looking at the implosion of the GOP if Trump loses? Answer: K Street. Already the Trump tax cuts are at risk – Biden is speaking out against gouging the consumer – that's dangerous talk. Biden's threatening windfall profits from gouging. There's anti-trust actions that have dinged some major mergers.

    As seen from Wall Street, MAGA kooks are screwing up things and it's threatening everything they hold dear. ($$$$$)  So (if Trump loses and goes to jail) I predict big money will go after genuine MAGA in '26 and try to put in reliable toadies who will serve big money. (They may still talk like MAGA but check their work history and education.) Fox will go along with Wall Street but MAGA will freak.


    • It is more or less an article of faith among politics talkers whom I interact with, that none of the would-be ersatz Trumps will have the Right Stuff to animate MAGAts effectively. If the latter keep voting they will go for Lost Causes like Libertarians or Greens.

      I tend to concur, though I think of the also-rans, Haley will be trying to piece together something that looks back on the pre-Trump Party and tries to resurrect it, while DeSantis tries to be the ersatz Trump full stop. Does Haley have what it takes to lead a schism? Signs point to "No."

  3. EYup ~ not very smart and things have gotten out of hand

    Not given to prediction I never-the-less don't see them getting better

    The comment "dare look away" resonates. We might ought to start looking beyond the moment to see what may be on the other side … cuz I still don't see trump in it and no one: rep, dem or non-committed, is prepared for that

  4. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop – when Trump is convicted in Merchan's court (ETA June or so), Jack Smith indicts Trump's enablers in Congress. Smith's last assignment – in The Hague – took ten years to unfold. Scoring a Trump conviction is just the opening act. It will scare the holdouts from hanging on to their hope of a 2024 Trump presidency to get them off the hook.

    Another shoe that will drop: the GOP also-rans – DeSantis, Haley – making their moves for the 2024 nomination when it's clear Trump is too wounded to continue.

    • Yeah, and watch MAGA freak and go ballistic when the inevitability of Trump is questioned. I was talking to a Trump voter, a coworker, who had the attitude that "everyone knows" Trump will be elected.

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