Commentary

Walt Amses: A bridge too far

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Walt Amses, a writer from North Calais.

Is it really possible that Senate Republicans still don’t realize that President Donald Trump is more married to his ego than he’s ever been to any of his three wives or the GOP agenda? That POTUS collaborating with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi — anathema to the startled Senate leadership — seemed to be earth-shattering, was itself an indication that their self-serving mythology may finally come crashing to the ground.

Imagine if the president’s polling numbers go up based on his cooperation with his previous adversaries on the left. Since he feeds off self-aggrandizing, he might very well be attracted to doing things the majority of Americans like, which, generally speaking, are the opposite of what Republicans say they like. It appears that the president may be willing to continue playing footsie with the Chuck and Nancy Show as long as he is sufficiently revered for his effort.

While Party of Lincoln faces its brand being defined by the perpetually flabbergasted look on Mitch McConnell’s face, Democrats and liberals aren’t out of the woods themselves, especially in light of Trump’s momentary lapse of ideology. Taking advantage of the situation is a tightrope walk over an alligator pit with Trump flip-flopping on issues like a short-order cook at a pancake house. But the Democratic leaders appear willing to take the risk of making Trump look good in the process of getting some of the things they want.

The hijinks began with Trump cutting a debt ceiling deal with Pelosi and Schumer, funding government until December, avoiding the threat of a shutdown and — more importantly for conservatives — depriving Paul Ryan & Co. of what was seen as a huge bargaining chip. Things went from bad to worse for Republicans when the same trio came up with a tentative solution for DACA, protecting 800,000 “dreamers” who entered the country illegally as children, a rule which Trump recently reversed.

The perception that Trump had abandoned the GOP as well as his “Build the Wall” campaign promise to work instead with Democrats was too much for some bloviators on the right: the ever-shrill Ann Coulter called for impeachment; Fox News’ Sean Hannity chimed in with the “colossal failure” of Republicans as “literally pushing the president into the arms” of Schumer and Pelosi; while Steve King, R-Iowa, suggested that the “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair.”

The larger question for voters might be this: Should a couple of simple acts — bordering on rationality — absolve the president of the daily lunacy that has marked his first seven months in office? The political implications for both parties are infinitely fascinating. Blue state constituencies might very well punish their representatives for collaborating with Trump as their red state counterparts could likely punish the GOP for allowing such outrage.

Although it remains to be seen where this making nice might go, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves since as we have learned since January, the self-serving, adolescent president and the renegade Congress are never far away. Since Trump’s tentative stab at bipartisanship — described as “bewildering” by the New York Times — however infuriating it may have been to house leadership, he’s reverted back to his more comfortable, schoolyard bully persona.

In a bombastic address to the United Nations last week Trump emphatically reiterated his “America First” mantra; essentially threatened to kill millions of North Koreans by “Totally destroy(ing)” their country; and referring to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” Not to be outdone, Senate Republicans threatened the lives of millions of Americans with yet another move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with even worse legislation than their previous efforts while funneling billions of dollars in tax breaks to the donor class.

That the emergence of something with even a remote hint of Washington bipartisanship was so shocking for conservatives might be the most instructive aspect of this entire issue, particularly considering their apparent complacency regarding things that have shocked the rest of the country. A few examples: the very real possibility that the election was stolen with support from Russia; EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt’s purging any reference to climate change throughout the agency while promoting mountaintop removal as a means of revitalizing the dying coal industry and rolling back myriad environmental regulations; and the GOP’s tepid response to the rise of the “Alt-Right” and a marked uptick in hate crimes since Trump’s coronation.

The country is on edge as we watch in horror an endless conveyor belt of catastrophic Atlantic hurricanes; a major city like Houston under water while the west burns and temperatures skyrocket; and a series of devastating earthquakes in Mexico. A steady hand on the controls and the calming reassurance of a thoughtful leader could go a long way to easing tensions. But instead we have an unpredictable, often unhinged leader whose main achievement is a national anxiety level that psychologists have dubbed “post election stress disorder.”

Sad.

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