You know what? Today was not a horrible day in politics. It was completely bizarre one, but not a truly heinous no good lousy day.
It began earlier today when President Trump struck a deal for $8 billion in Harvey relief aid and a three-month extension in the debt ceiling. What’s odd about it, however, is that Trump did not strike the deal with Republicans — he snubbed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell — but rather, he struck the deal with … Democrats?
In fact, Trump praised both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and completely ignored McConnell, Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who were attempting to get an 18-month extension. Moreover, Trump suggested that he was prepared to strike a deal to save the DREAMers. “Chuck and Nancy would like to see something happen, and so do I,” he said.
What’s going on?
Later in the day in a trip to North Dakota, Donald Trump also invited Senator Heidi Heitkamp up on stage during a speech and also said: “Everybody’s saying, ‘What’s she doing up here?’ But I’ll tell you what: Good woman.”
Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a Democrat. Not only that, she’s a Democrat in a state where Trump won last year by 36 points.
This is just bizarre. Why is Donald Trump suddenly siding with Democrats? Did Donald Trump pivot?
Trump siding against GOP leaders and seeing them bend over illustrates how he could get them to do this on just about everything. The path of least resistance, the path of popularity for him, is to dismiss the demands of Congressional Republicans on virtually everything except abortion, judges, education, free speech, and regulations. In almost every other way, he has the opportunity to govern like Bill Clinton and triangulate a path through this screwed up political system. He’s that much stronger than congressional Republicans, and he doesn’t even seem to know it.
According to sources speaking to The Daily Beast, it was less a “pivot,” and more a, “Fuck the GOP” move by Trump:
Multiple West Wing sources told The Daily Beast how the president was looking to strike a quick and easy deal—and that his speed reaching this specific arrangement was in part ensured by his resentment towards Republican leaders, who Trump views as hostile, insufficiently loyal, and impotent. It was well-known within the White House that President Trump, going into the meeting, was “not looking to do [Ryan and McConnell] any favors,” as one White House official put it.
Simply put, the president made a “deliberate decision not to care about Ryan’s feelings” and did what he wanted, another White House adviser said.
Huh. If Donald Trump wants to do something similar with DACA and immigration reform, I’m sure there are plenty of Democrats who could offer him a deal, and though the Dems are the minority party, I guess there are enough Republicans willing to follow Trump — no matter where he goes — to get it over the top.
It’s like bizarro world, but I ain’t mad at it.
— In other news, Ivanka Trump is still annoying Congressional leaders, including Republicans. From the Washington Examiner:
According to a Democratic aide, the conversation over spending ended when Ivanka Trump entered the room to say hello. “The meeting careened off topic,” the aide said. “Republican leaders were visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence.”
Maybe Ivanka — invited in by the President — came in to shut Republicans up so that Trump could make his deal with Democrats. Or maybe Donald Trump just has a creepy thing for his daughter.
"[Ivanka] wanted to make the trip. She said, 'Dad, can I go with you?' She said actually, 'Daddy, can I go with you?' I like that, right?" pic.twitter.com/fN2I8VPodZ— David Mack (@davidmackau) September 6, 2017
Yup. Definitely the second thing.
— It’s not that Trump suddenly disagrees with Republican policies. It’s that Trump has no policy preferences; he’s loyal to those who are loyal to him, and I guess he thinks he can get further with Schumer — who he apparently likes — than he can with McConnell, who he doesn’t. It also explains this:
GOP source close to WH tells me: Cohn "more likely to get electric chair than Fed Chair" https://t.co/5IGR0Db1wU— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 6, 2017
Trump has apparently turned on Cohn — a Democrat — because Cohn was not loyal to him after Charlottesville.
— Of course, it’s not like Donald Trump suddenly turned sane. He still says some stupid shit.
Trump calls for end of death tax, calling it a tremendous burden for the family farmer.— Alan Rappeport (@arappeport) September 6, 2017
— I’d like to alert you all to something else. This morning, a big deal was made out of the fact that John McCain flipped and decided to support an Obamacare repeal in the form of the Cassidy-Graham that has been floating around.
🚨 ALERT: McCain has flipped on ACA repeal. All hands on deck. We need to pummel them for the next 24 days. 🚨https://t.co/naYmFtULJg— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) September 6, 2017
Keep an eye on it, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. There’s a deadline of September 30th to pass that repeal, and there’s only like 11 days between now and then that Congress is in session, and they have a lot to deal with before the end of the month. Plus, I seriously doubt the House Freedom Caucus would go along with it, and I very much doubt that McConnell or Trump — who apparently hate each other — are willing to float another Obamacare repeal now and risk another humiliating defeat. In fact, I’d be less surprised after today if Trump negotiated a deal with Chuck Schumer to save Obamacare. He hates Ryan and McConnell that much.
btw, I am yet to find a congressional aide or health care lobbyist who’s taking Cassidy-Graham very seriously— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) September 6, 2017
— Madness. Even Fox News is turning hard against Paul Ryan after the deal was struck. Here’s Lou Dobbs, one of the most despicable men on the face of the planet, absolutely thrashing Paul Ryan.
Anyway, enjoy today. I’m sure that Donald Trump will return to his same asshole self tomorrow on Twitter.