Open Thread

The Open Thread for February 23, 2017

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump with a negative 38% to 55% job approval rating, his worst net score since he took office.

55% to 40% say he is not honest.   55% to 42% say he does not have good leadership skills.  53% to 44% say he does not care about average Americans.   63% to 33% say he is not level-headed.  64% to 32% say he is a strong person.  60% to 37% say he does not share their values.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “President Trump’s popularity is sinking like a rock. He gets slammed on honesty, empathy, level headedness and the ability to unite. And two of his strong points, leadership and intelligence, are sinking to new lows. This is a terrible survey one month in.”

A new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll finds that 66% of Americans are worried that the United States will become engaged in a major war in the next four years while 33% are not worried.   Other interesting findings:   43% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, 54% disapprove; 31% are angry about the way the federal government is working, 42% are dissatisfied but not angry, 18% are satisfied but not enthusiastic and 7% are enthusiastic about the way the government is working.

62% think the U.S. should take into account the interests of its allies even if it means making compromises with them, 34% think the U.S. should follow its own national interests even when its allies strongly disagree.   80% said being a member of NATO is good for the United States, 15% said being a member is bad for the U.S..  50% approve of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. and 47% disapprove.   60% have confidence in the judicial system, 39% said they don’t have confidence.   52% have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act and 45% have an unfavorable view.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Maine Public Radio that she wants a vigorous investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence last fall’s presidential election.  “Asked whether that could include issuing a subpoena for the tax returns that Trump has refused to release, Collins said it could if that is what is required to find out if the president had undisclosed connections to the Russians.”  Said Collins: “I don’t know whether we will need to do that. If it is necessary to get to the answers, then I suspect that we would.”

Jonathan Chait says the Resistance has the upper hand over Trump: “It is worth noting that, so far, normal political countermobilization seems to be working quite well. ‘The Resistance,’ as anti-Trump activists have come to be known, has already rattled the once-complacent Republican majorities in Congress, which Trump needs to quash investigations of his corruption and opaque ties to Russia. Whatever pressure Trump has tried to apply to the news media has backfired spectacularly. His sneering contempt has inspired a wave of subscriptions that have driven new revenue to national media, which have blanketed the administration with independent coverage. Popular culture outlets, rather than responding to Trump’s election by tempering their mockery, have instead stepped it up, enraging the president.”

“If Trump has a plan to crush his adversaries, he has not yet revealed it. His authoritarian rage thus far is mostly impotent, the president as angry Fox-News-watching grandfather screaming threats at his television that he never carries out. The danger to the republic may come later, or never. In the first month of Trump’s presidency, the resistance has the upper hand.”

Personally, I am fine with any of the big three, Ellison, Perez or Buttigieg.   I wonder if Buttigieg will win as a compromise pick, though.  But the Associated Press reports a different tally.

Perez, who was encouraged by Obama administration officials to run for the post, has emerged as the front-runner with the backing of 205 committee members, according to independent Democratic strategists tracking the race. The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the voting publicly. Ellison, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters, has the support of 153 members.

Rich Lowry: “It’s beginning to look like August 2009 in reverse. In that summer of the Tea Party, conservative activists packed the town-hall meetings of Democratic congressmen and peppered them with hostile questions. It was an early sign of the abiding opposition that Obamacare would encounter, and the prelude to Democratic defeats in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Now, progressive activists are tearing a page from that playbook.”

“The scenes are highly reminiscent of 2009, with Republican officeholders struggling to control unruly forums and leaving their town-hall meetings early or not holding them in the first place.”

“The partisan temptation in this circumstance is always to dismiss the passion of the other side, which is what Democrats did to their detriment in 2009 and Republicans are doing now.”

Mexico will not accept new “unilateral” U.S. immigration proposals, and will not hesitate in approaching the United Nations to defend immigrants, Reuters reports.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said “the new U.S. proposals would be the main point of discussion for upcoming meetings, which will take place between Mexican officials, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday and Thursday.”

“A fight over a draft order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it… The order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent.”

Joe Scarborough: “The Republican Party needs to know that there is going to be a time after Donald Trump, and they are going to be judged for the next 50 years on how they respond to the challenges today.”

Stephen Colbert: “I wish I shared your optimism that there will be a time after Donald Trump.”

Politico: “The White House’s deep involvement in hiring decisions across the government is frustrating some of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, spurring early tussles between the president’s advisers and leaders of federal agencies. White House officials have sometimes rejected candidates who have previously criticized the president — even if they boast sterling credentials or have the endorsement of top Republicans. And they’ve often imposed their choices on agencies.”

“Many Cabinet nominees joined the administration believing they’d have wide latitude to pick lieutenants, but they’re beginning to realize Trump’s powerful advisers are looking over their shoulders. The White House’s approach has already slowed hiring — and the dozens of vacancies at key agencies could make it more difficult to implement some of Trump’s policy proposals.”

CNBC: “A more hands-off approach than Trump has previously signaled doesn’t mean that the Republican agenda won’t succeed… For the agenda, the risk is that the absence of White House plans may complicate prospects for achieving consensus between the more ideologically aggressive House and a more centrist Senate. For individual Republican members, the risk is that a president of their party may turn against controversial elements of tax or health plans after they’ve voted for them.”

“For now, lawmakers and congressional aides say the White House has worked closely with them as they craft their own approaches. When it’s ‘go time’ for legislation, as one House leadership aide put, Republicans are counting on Trump to provide the strong public advocacy needed to overcome political resistance.”

“Near a nadir of political power, Democrats across the country say their comeback must begin with key races next year — and warn that failure to make big gains in state races in 2018 will doom them to another decade in the minority in Washington,” The Hill reports.

“More than three-dozen states will choose governors in the next two years, while voters pick state legislative candidates in thousands of districts across the country.”

“In the vast majority of cases, those legislators and governors will draw new political boundaries following the 2020 census that will determine just how competitive the battle for the U.S. House of Representatives will be in the following decade.”

Ezra Klien suggests that “Donald Trump is dangerous when he’s losing.”

In the aftermath of Trump’s election, I spoke to top liberals terrified that Trump would outflank them, and quickly. If he had given a conciliatory inaugural address, named some compromise candidates to key posts, filled his administration with competent veterans of government, and began his term by working on an infrastructure bill that Chuck Schumer could support, he would be at or above 60 percent in the polls, the media would be covering him positively, and the Democratic Party would be split between those who wanted to work with Trump and those who wanted to resist everything he did. In that world, Trump might be a big fan of America’s political institutions right now.

Liberals aren’t afraid Trump will outflank them anymore. He launched his presidency with a series of speeches, appointments, and executive orders that have made him radioactive among congressional Democrats. He’s running an understaffed, inexperienced government even as he provokes our enemies and alienates our friends. Trump is burning both political capital and time. It is significantly less likely now than it was a month ago that he will be able to replace Obamacare or pass a tax reform bill.

This is the hard part about failure in American politics: It feeds on itself, perpetuates itself. Trump’s low poll numbers make it harder for him to win Democratic support on, well, anything. The inability to get anything done feeds his low poll numbers. The same goes for how Trump runs his White House. The Trump administration is a chaotic, leaky place, and that leads to negative press coverage of the Trump White House, which leads to more chaos and leaks as scared aides try to push blame for the disaster onto their rivals.

It is easy to imagine Trump, in a year, cornered in his own White House, furious at the manifold enemies he blames for his failures, and cocooned within an ever-smaller and more radical group of staffers and media outlets that tell him what he wants to hear and feed his grievances and resentments.

6 comments on “The Open Thread for February 23, 2017

  1. You saved the best for last, Ezra Klein nails it. Trump administration will be an ever downward spiral and the same elements that make the White House creepy and dangerous will only intensify. Having said that unless the Dems get it together, and I have my doubts, they will blow yet another opportunity. As major defeats go this one has a silver lining, DINOS are under attack , there will be change at the DNC and the base is energized with more than enough anger to last to 2018. Even better the town hall meeting massacres are for real angry constituents, nobody paid them , nobody bussed them in unlike the Tea Party days. And I suspect they will not be going away.

    • I always save the best for last. It is a good way to make sure you all read all the way until the end. LOL. Seriously, each day throughout the day I flag over 100 stories/blogs/columns or Twitter or Facebook links, but then I have to cull it down to 15. It’s tough, but usually it boils it down to the most relevant or best stuff.

    • What’s missing here, though, are some strong D voices present in the media capitalizing on this energy and the messaging that is coming from this grass roots effort. Some of this is that Ds are focused on DNC business, but it is killing me to hear about these town halls and other efforts that have no D speaking for it in news reports I hear.

  2. I’m not getting the DNC fight. Is this really the hill some have chosen to die on? I like all three candidates.

    • Some of more vocal diehard Berners, most of whom are ironically not members of the Democratic Party, are the only ones trying to hype up the DNC race in Bernie v. Hillary terms. Most people I have talked to agree with my and your stance in liking the final top three.

      • There seems to be an element of you’ve had your turn, so it is Bernie’s time here. Which is pretty remarkable since Bernie couldn’t win the primaries and was strongest in the less Democratic caucuses. That said, I have my doubts about a longer term strategy that counts on the Berners to Fix Everything for Us. And there is something abit off with a candidate endorsed by both Chuck Schumer AND Bernie. Can’t nail what it is, but still. I could be fine with any of the three, but when Buttigieg came to the Baltimore leg of the DNC meetings, he sent a volunteer team up here to volunteer with Stephanie for a morning. Classy and committed. So I am pulling for him in an upset.

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