Trump May Be Losing His Power
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
President Trump’s days of having all of Washington kow-towing to his every whim are over. In just a month divided government already in just a month has totally changed the environment. The one who appears not ready to recognize this new reality is Trump himself. The President lost more than the battle over who was to blame for the partial Government shut-down, he may have witnessed the disintegration of his iron clad control of his party.
Trump capitulated last Friday and agreed to re-open the Government because it had become apparent even to his strongest Senate ally, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that the shut-down had to end—wall or no wall. McConnell recognized that his Republican colleagues in the Senate were beginning to abandon him as well as the President. The pushback they were encountering at home because of the shut-down and the pointless, futile battle over the wall had become intense. By the end of last week, it became clear that McConnell could no longer hold the troops together and Trump had to kick the can down the road for three weeks.
Since last week, it has become even clearer that the President is encountering serious slippage among his own political allies. Republicans understand that Washington was no longer the one-party town that they had reveled in for two years. There was formidable opposition now coming from the Democratic side which had equal control of the legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. Trump recognized that his poll numbers were slipping fast, below a bottom line base that he needed for his 2020 race.
President Trump has now seen his own party desert him today on a Joint Senate Resolution attacking his foreign policy decisions on withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan. The fact that the amendment–to a larger foreign policy bill to be voted on next week–was drafted by McConnell was not lost on anyone. Passing with virtually all Senate Republicans supporting the resolution, this vote was a clear repudiation of two of President Trumps major foreign policy decisions.
Today’s action came only a day after all the leaders of the Intelligence community had contradicted President Trump’s own personal assessment as to the state of global events in Syria, Afghanistan, Russia, and North Korea. The fact that this unified analysis from all the intelligence chiefs was met by ad hominem attacks from the President of their collective “naiveite”, astounded political leaders on both sides of the aisles.
President Trump now faces the reality that while he was re-invited to present his State of the Union Address to Congress next Tuesday, there is a February 15 deadline looming for passage of the remaining FY 2019 appropriations bills. While the congressional conference committee will undoubtedly present him with a proposed compromise, it is unlikely to contain provisions for his wall—at least as he has demanded.
If the President does not acquiescence to the conference committee’s proposal, Trump will face overwhelming Republican as well as general public wrath. This also will be matched by the escalating legal developments that he and his Administration are personally and collectively trying to juggle as the Special Counsel continues to proceed painstakingly with his work. In addition, the White House recently has started to face a wave of congressional investigations which the newly organized Democratic House is undertaking.
It is no wonder, therefore, that in this environment Republicans are starting to slowly jump off the Trump bandwagon.