GOP: Why it’s sticking with Trump
“Less than a month into his first term, Trump resembles Nixon at his most besieged,” said Brian Beutler in NewRepublic.com—“angry, flailing, driven to distraction.” He’s at war with the intelligence community, the press, and the judiciary, and faces an ongoing FBI investigation of his campaign’s Russian ties. Gallup finds his approval rating has sunk to 40 percent. “But unlike Nixon, Trump enjoys the complicity of nearly his entire party.” What, exactly, is it going to take for Republicans to break with their volatile president? Until now, said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine.com, Republicans have consoled themselves with the idea that a Trump presidency gives them a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to pass conservative legislation, such as repealing Obamacare and cutting tax rates. But Trump’s constant turmoil has been a major distraction, and so far, he and Congress aren’t close to passing any major legislation. If Trump continues on this “present trajectory,” it could cost the GOP control of the House in 2018.
If you’re waiting for Republicans to take on Trump, “you could be waiting a long time,” said Natalie Jackson in HuffingtonPost.com. Right now, most of them have one thing on their mind: “re-election in 2018.” In today’s polarized environment, that means appeasing the base—and despite what liberals and independents think, 87 percent of Republicans approve of the job Trump’s doing. They expected him to be combative, and see him as trying to fulfill his campaign promises. As long as Republican voters stick with Trump, “there’s no real incentive for GOP lawmakers to challenge him on anything.”
Everything could change if the Russia investigation produces a Watergate-level scandal, said Juan Williams in TheHill.com. Then Republicans would fear that 2018 would become a “change election,” and their calculations would shift. The biggest danger Trump faces is Mike Pence, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. The calm, composed, and dignified vice president is the polar opposite of Trump, and highly popular among conservatives on Capitol Hill. “If you gave 52 GOP senators a secret ballot and asked if they would prefer Pence or Trump, would Trump get more than a handful of votes?” Democrats would also welcome a “normal” president. If Trump continues to cause chaos, Republicans might finally walk away—“into Pence’s waiting arms.” ■