In the wake of November’s election, my biggest concern was the prospect of Donald Trump in charge of a unified government: with a Republican House and Senate, I was sure we would see legislation canceling progress on the environment, reversing rights for women, gay citizens and immigrants, and eviscerating public education, among other nightmares.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post, recently explained why we have yet to see that legislation. Her column was titled “Here’s why, even with control of everything, the GOP can’t govern.” She began with a quote from the Wall Street Journal:

Many popular postelection wagers took a hit last month after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which highlighted the difficulties they could face advancing new legislation even while holding the White House and both houses of Congress.

She went on to describe the current situation.

If one had any doubt, this week’s events — a half-baked tax proposal that would not pass one let alone two houses, another failed effort at Trumpcare, White House bluffs and retreats on the budget — should have disabused observers of the notion that Trump’s agenda would sail through Congress…

Trump cannot manage to devise attractive legislation or get down in the weeds of negotiation, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) seems willing to accommodate whatever group is currently rocking the boat, regardless of the likelihood of success. Neither Ryan nor Trump can lead a successful legislative effort. As a result, members of Congress figure there is little reason to stick their necks out for either one. “Members of Congress have watched with horror as Trump thrashed about in Washington with little predictability, guided by top aides with little experience in the trenches of government,” Time reports. “Staffers with decades of Hill experience find themselves sidelined by political neophytes who think barking orders can get Congress to act. More than once, White House officials have told Paul Ryan that his role as Speaker may be in jeopardy if he does not do more to help Trump.”

Rubin notes that –given his priorities–Trump’s inability to get things done is a gift; gridlock looks pretty good when balanced against this administration’s goals.

This is not to say we don’t have substantial problems or need competent leadership. However, this president and this Congress have not a clue how to proceed. They would potentially do much more harm than good. They are prisoners of extreme ideology, unrealistic expectations and their own incompetence.

Wonkblog recently came to a similar conclusion. In a column tracing the reasons that  financial markets aren’t betting on a big Trump stimulus anymore,  Matt O’Brian wrote

But a funny thing happened on the way to Trump’s making great deals. It turns out that everything is more complicated than anyone named Donald Trump knew. It isn’t easy to get Republicans to agree on a health-care plan when some of them think the problem with Obamacare is everything, and others think it’s just the name. Or to get the whole party to agree on which tax loopholes to close to pay for all their tax cuts. The result, according to Trump, is that health-care reform is always a week away, and tax reform, always two weeks.

In the meantime, though, the economy is still chugging along at the same 2 percent pace it has been the whole recovery. So when you add it all up — a government that’s doing nothing today, that looks as if it will be doing nothing tomorrow, and an economy that’s doing nothing different from what it has been the last decade — there’s no reason to expect the dollar to go up anymore. And it hasn’t. It has given back most of its post-election gains to now only be up 1 percent over that time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m gratified that these clowns seem unable to learn.


  1. My fear is that one of them will realize what they are doing to themselves, come together and start the slide to end democracy. John Dickerson’s interview w Trump only revealed that Trump has no skill, talent or interest in governing; he only wants to be elected for a second term, and he is actively campaigning on his great record to date.

    It seems unlikely that Trump will change his course ; however, the Republicans in congress will have to answer for his failures as well as his. I only hope that the Democrats can dig their heads out their posteriors and generate some solid policies and anoint some competitive candidates to take full advantage of the gift presented to them, but that seems like another long shot given the party “leadership” still stuck in the 1990s.

  2. In spite of this disappointing conclusion that the GOP can’t govern, Trump would still win today.

    See Nick Kristof’s 4/30/17 NYT column, Lessons from 100 days of President Trump:

    “… an ABC/Washington Post poll suggested that if 2016 voters filled out their ballots today, Trump would be elected by the poplar vote as well as by the electoral vote”

  3. “…the Republicans in congress will have to answer for his failures…”

    daleb: meanwhile; we the people, are paying for Trump’s failures as we wait and hope Congress will admit his failures and stands up against him to fight his continuing nonsensical Tweets, speeches, rallies and signing and displaying documents to his invited guests and the cameras…and his regular trips to his privately owned “winter White House” at Mar-A-Lago. It does no good to remind HIS public of his blatant lies and 100 days of failure to keep his campaign “threats” which he referred to as “promises” because they only see and hear his obfuscation of facts. The “dog ate my homework” explanation is acceptable to them; meanwhile he continues to insult our allies and now praises Kim Jong Un as an intelligent leader despite his youth, while threatening to attack North Korea. Congress just goes along to get along…and to keep their jobs, which we can remove them from gradually at the polls. The gradual gains will hopefully speed up when the Democratic party wins seats in Congress such as Jon Ossoff in Georgia and voters swarm to the polls on every election day. I switched to Fox News after watching Trump claim a “major, major Republican victory” when Ossoff got 48% of the vote and the nearest Republican carried 19%. Per Fox News; it was a “major, major Republican victory” claimed by Trump because Ossoff did not get the needed 2% to win. And the Trump supporters believed and cheered.

    OMG; the “dumb” ones in the current administration are only dumb in the sense that they have not, can not and will not admit they are dumb regarding how this government truly works and what is needed from our leaders; elected and/or appointed. They bought off politicians but didn’t work on the political scene and mistakenly believe they can run this country while continuing to amass their great fortunes. In truth, they have accomplished much of running this country into the ground on the economic level and alienating our allies of many decades. They are currently doing much harm to this country and will continue to do so until Congress begins to do the job they were elected to do…or are voted out of office. I prefer the latter.

  4. While it has been a good thing, generally that the Republicans can’t govern, that doesn’t mean they can’t cause a great deal of harm. We have another right winged idealogue on the Supreme Court. The environment is in serious jeopardy from 45’s Executive Orders and the dismantling of the EPA. There is no leadership in US Attorneys’ offices across the country, putting both investigations and court filings at serious risk. The State Department has voids in every geographic area of expertise.

    While they might not be able to pass bills that advance their promises, remember that their real agenda is the dissolution of government. They are doing a bang-up job of that.

  5. Domestic politics are “more complicated than anyone named Donald Trump knew.” But he can always wage war. THAT will get his ratings up and the economy booming.

  6. There’s a simple solution for all those inconvenient legislative and judicial barriers that are Keeping America From Being Great Again. Just get rid of them.

    Trump, in a recent interview with Fox News: the Constitution is an “archaic system;” the rules of the House and Senate are “a bad thing for the country”, and “at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on because for the good of the nation things are going to have to be different. You can’t go through a process like this.” [i.e., democracy and judicial review.]

    Yesterday, Rience Priebus once again floated the idea of amending or abolishing the First Amendment to silence media outlets that criticize the President. [i.e., the “enemies of the people”, in the phrase which Mr. Trump cribbed from inspiring Great Leaders of the past like Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung.] How this would be accomplished was not specified.

    Mr. Trump and his minions seem to have forgotten that he swore an oath to protect and defend the same Constitution that they now want to ignore or abolish. No doubt Mr. Trump takes that oath just as seriously as he took his obligation to keep his word in business, in matrimony, and in political vows like his announcement that his election opponent would be in jail shortly after the election and that he had a secret plan to destroy ISIS in thirty days.

    I’d like to think that 2018 and 2020 elections will right our ship of state. But I can’t help but think of Josef Stalin’s famous observation that elections are decided not by those who vote, but by those who count the votes. I can easily see REDMAP-style gerrymandering resulting in yet another set of elections in which Democratic popular majorities are converted to Republican electoral victories. And Mr. Trump or his party lose an election, I can more easily envision Mr. Trump declaring the election void because the “dishonest media wasn’t fair to him” than I can envision him peacefully acknowledging defeat and leaving office.

    If and when he openly proclaims himself above the law and sweeps our “archaic system” into the dustbin in order to “get things done”, will a Republican Congress deal with him the way the Constitution prescribes for such behavior?

    Once the Supreme Court and the federal judgeships that were blockaded throughout the Obama presidency are packed with Republican partisans selected with no regard for bipartisan acceptibility, what court will hold him to account?

    And if it comes to that, will the US military support or stifle an executive who proclaims himself above the law and the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold?

  7. Trump is not an ideologue; he has no guiding principle in life other than an eternal chase for the buck. If he gets the tax bill he wants, owners of the so-called “pass-through” corporations (which we used to designate Subchapter S) will get enormous tax breaks, and guess what? Trump Enterprises is a pass-through and not subject to SEC or other such regulation since it is not a publicly-owned corporation. In view of this, and while I concede that such a thing has never happened in history, could we demand that Trump recuse himself from any consideration and/or even signing such a monstrosity in view of his gross conflict of interest presented by such an issue which, if passed, would add billions to his bottom line?

    Alternatively, take the healthcare bill the Republicans are trying to cobble together. It is not a healthcare bill; it is a trillion dollar tax giveaway to the superrich bill. I don’t know why we are talking about whether high risk pools should be paying heavier premiums and whether pre-existing conditions are factors when the truth is that the so-called bill is a Republican excuse and disguise to give more corporate welfare to the superrich and more specifically, people such as Trump whose corporations pay no taxes since such corporations’ income passes through to its owners where they are taxed – and under the Republican proposal – very lightly.

    We are told that such trillions in corporate welfare will not explode the deficit since economic growth as a result of such trickle down giveaways will power the economy to such an extent that there will be no additional deficit. If that happens, it will be a first (see the results of Reagan’s and Bush’s massive tax cuts). Oh, and guess who either pays or is liable to pay for such an increased deficit? It is not the superrich; they have just been excused from liability by reason of their tax cuts. You got it – it’s you and me. What is really scary is that the Republicans are talking about a “tax reform” bill after they have already presumably picked our pockets for a trillion with their phony “healthcare” bill. I can’t imagine that our “pockets” have much left to be picked, but Wall Street is good at sniffing out such opportunities and getting their propaganda machine working to soften the masses for the next larceny.

    So economic growth will pay for tax cuts to the obscenely superrich? Our “economic growth” for the first quarter 2017 was 0.7 percent as measured by GDP, the lowest in several quarters of already tepid growth in our underperforming economy, so someone tell me how and when such robust “economic growth” is going to pay for our accelerated deficit when there is little to no demand for the goods and services the trickledowners insist will result from such public largesse in view of ongoing wage inequality. If history is any guide, such public gifts to the superrich do not wind up as reinvestments in America but in Swiss bank accounts. Good public policy? You make the judgment; I’ve made mine.

  8. Really what’s been demonstrated is the resilience of professional government to get done what has to be with zero input from elected or appointed leaders.

    The problem with that is that under informed voters can mistake it for adequate performance by leaders who really are just too dysfunctional to make a difference.

    Our goal has to be to limit this debacle to a one term side show. For that to happen the dysfunction has to show up on Main Street.

    Will it in time or has it become true that even the worst of elected and appointed leadership get carried along on the wings of inertia? The worst that they can do is no change.

  9. The crisis with the Korean Peninsula has been the subject of so much jabber and drivel by our McMega-Media pundits and so-called experts. All this bluffing by the Trumpet and North Koreans as reported in our “press” ignores the grave risks to South Korea and Japan.

    Here is what I found in a Guardian article:

    In an interview last week, Trump said that South Korea – a key US ally in the Asia-Pacific – should foot the $1bn (£770m) bill for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) antimissile system currently being deployed in the South Korean countryside.

    “I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” Trump was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. “It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky.”

    However, Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, reportedly told his South Korean counterpart on Sunday that the US would shoulder the costs for the system, which is designed to intercept North Korean missiles in mid-flight.
    >> Side Bar- Remind you of the Wall, Trump promised to build and have Mexico pay for it.

    And there is this: During an interview with Fox News to discuss his first 100 days as president, Trump denounced the constitutional system of checks and balances as “archaic.”

    “It’s a very rough system. It’s an archaic system,” Trump said. “It’s really a bad thing for the country.”

    Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told ABC on Sunday that the president is thinking about amending or even abolishing the First Amendment to stifle what they consider to be unfair media criticism.

  10. To sum up Sheila’s blog and each and every comment today in simple language…we are in deep shit and sinking fast!

  11. JoAnn – I didn’t mean to ruin your day but it is very difficult to write a piece brimming with optimism when these zillionaires (posing as populists) are in charge because they are looking out for themselves and not excess baggage like you and me.

  12. Gerald; dear fellow excess baggage, all of my days have been spoiled since I happened to wake up around 2:30 a.m. on November 9, 2016, just in time to see Trump announce his election to the presidency. My days, nights and peace of mind were shattered at that minute and I haven’t found all of the pieces to try to reassemble them.

    Few people I have spoken to saw that moment in time; the unbelieving look on Trump’s face, then he turned to Melania and the look that passed between them was not one filled with joy or elation. One friend described what she believed their reaction to be as, “Oh, shit!” He has not accepted the torch of leadership with pride, gratitude to his voters or acceptance to uphold the laws of this land and the Constitution, contrary to his acceptance of the oath of office…he has repealed them, skirted around them and now wants to get rid of the Constitution to run this country as his own “The World According to Trump”.

  13. This is America. Failure is success!!

    Neither party can govern appropriately. When the Democrats had the upper hand,what did they do? They squandered every opportunity afforded them. “We just can’t do nuttin’.” That’s the New Democrat mantra under Obama. That’s why the Democrat Party is diminishing of support from the great unwashed! The Democrats were so stupid and arrogant wrt Sander’s supporters,how did that work out for you? Have the PTB of the Democrat Party learned anything? Of course not. Cornell West (an American Treasure) has written an interesting op-ed wrt what have the Democrats accomplished within the last one hundred days? Well guess what,the answer is nothing. Moreover, I will always approach “concerns” written within this blog with much suspicion. Specifically since the professor spent decades supporting a racist party such as the Republican Party. I suspect the DNC talking points propagated on the blog has much to do with keeping the proverbial rice bowl full than genuine “concern” for those outside of trendy Caucasian political interests.

    i.e. Former Senator Lugar was canonized recently on this blog. Lugar was a staunch supporter of uber strict laws meted out for drug offenses. If Lugar is/was as brilliant as written,he knew the laws would be meted out in a manner highly discriminatory toward minorities,no? Of course he knew. This is a perfect example of genuine,insidious and institutionalized racism. Of course,critical thinking isn’t something high amongst the readers of this blog. I just don’t own a pair of pom-poms as do most of the readership.

    Back to Trump..

    My prediction:

    Trump will be re-elected because Americans have become accustomed to failure. I wouldn’t doubt if the Democrats will run Hillary again and again and again and again….Because that’s such a viable and winning strategy. They would do much better if they were to disinter Socks and have him/her run.

    Libya= Failure

    Syria = Failure

    Afghanistan = Failure

    Iraq = Failure

    Healthcare Reform = Failure

    We love failure! We embrace failure!

    America cannot do anything…Cannot accomplish anything…Americans cannot have nice things because……I guess it’s all Putin’s fault!?

  14. William – Thanks for your prediction. Here’s mine: Trump will not last his first term and will be unavailable for a run in 2020. As to Shelia, it was her party that left her, which happened when Nixon’s Southern Strategy finally took hold in the south and its political tentacles spread north. Unlike Shelia, I have been a Democrat from the beginning, but I can understand that one could be a Republican back in the days when people like Ike (whom I voted against twice to no avail) was actually a New Dealer and who spent eight years without even proposing a tax cut when the top number was 90%. I myself would have been a Republican in the Lincoln era when the Democratic Party was racist and old guard and the Republican Party was far more progressive.

    I am sure Shelia would join me in leaving the Democratic Party if our party were to approve some of the current Republican shenanigans with their Wall Street cabinet, a Leninist adviser, and a clueless narcissist at the helm. Let’s insert some historical perspective in our criticism of others. I was an American long before I was a Democrat, and that priority is still in place, as it is for Shelia and others who are abandoning the right wing racist Republican Party of today. More is at stake than merely who wins or who loses; our democracy is up for grabs, and that is not for sale to any party.

  15. William, what exactly do you expect of government and where/when has it been demonstrated as possible?

  16. Thank you Gerald for your kind words toward William.

    For me, it’s not “both sides are the same” crap.

  17. Both sides are most definitely NOT the “same.”

    Repubs are the party of “ME”
    Dems are the part of “WE”

    Because of systemic campaign finance corruption, both parties have to play the game to win seats (and yes, neither party wants to give up any financial advantage to institute genuine finance reform), BUT it seems clear to me that Republicans are only in government for personal gain, while Democrats also attempt to lift everyone up together with themselves. A win-win versus a winner/loser society.

    A former Republican friend (whom I thought I knew) voted for McCain/Palin because she didnʻt like that Obama was proposing higher taxes for those making $250,000 or more. I asked her what about education, the environment, womenʻs rights, etc. and all she said was “f*ck the wolves.” Since she didnʻt want higher income taxes, she blinded herself to the connection between a healthy planet and good quality of life for her three children and her possible descendants.

    Republican versus Democrat view seem to be short-term gain pitted against long-term sustainable conditions for future generations of people as well as wolves. Or in simplistic terms, greed versus sharing and protecting resources.

    In my view, unchecked greed and rampant capitalism is a ticking bomb that will eventually explode. The Republican trajectory seems hell-bent on self-destruction. Gutting environmental laws and protections is basically saying we donʻt need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. How insane is that?

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