It’s what happens after Donald Trump wins the Presidency that should concern the GOP. Trump won’t be the only big ego in Washington. Congress, even should it remain solidly in Republican hands, is not a mere rubber-stamping institution. Inevitably, some portion of Trump’s agenda will meet resistance from GOP legislators. It happens in every presidency: a president coming at odds with his own party.
How will Trump respond? Will there be collegial comments about their honest differences? Will there be talk of the necessity to compromise? Reconciliation? Or will Trump respond as he has responded to every confrontation and hurdle he’s faced so far in his presidential quest: with bluster and venom?
Or, to put it another way, how long will it be before President Trump, never one to politely brush off a conflict, calls Paul Ryan “a loser”? How long will it be before President Trump tells his supporters that he wishes someone will “punch” Senator Mitch McConnell “in the face”?
God bless Mitt Romney. Back in 2012, Trump was one of Romney’s most vocal and public supporters. I remember reading articles how Trump flew to Boston for what was supposed to be Romney’s 2012 victory celebration. Presumably, Trump thought Romney would have made a fine president. For Trump though, loyalty is fleeting. Those same articles about Trump flying into Boston for the victory celebration had Trump demeaning Candidate Romney by the end of the evening, once it became apparent Romney had lost the election.
Just today, Trump said, “Mitt Romney... was one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics.”
A few months ago, Trump talked up his friendship with Senator Ted Cruz. Lately, however, Trump’s been dishing up a tweetstorm of unsavory and demeaning comments about Cruz.
Ted Cruz isn’t going to win the Presidency. But the downside for Cruz will come in 2018 when his Senate seat is up for re-election. You better bet those disparaging Trump comments will be used against Cruz—both in the primary challenges he’s likely to face and in the general election. Mark my words: Trump has laid the groundwork for Cruz’s eventual 2018 Senate loss.
And so it will be with every other congressional GOP leader and subordinate who dares to stick up to Trump on even the smallest, most trivial matter. Trump won’t contain his anger. Trump ain’t a flat-Earhter; he’s a scorched-Earther. He cares nothing for principle, nothing for the Republican Party.
Today’s Washington Post editorial states, “A political party, after all, isn’t meant to be merely a collection of consultants, lobbyists and functionaries angling for jobs.”
This speaks to a certain cynical transactional impulse, the idea that the Republican Party has come around and made peace with Trump’s candidacy out of hope that, when elected, their tacit support will be rewarded with sinecures and patronage jobs. Call it jobs for peace. Call it what you want.
But I call it misguided.
What strikes me about this is the presumption that establishment GOP hacks might actually expect jobs in a Trump Administration. I don’t see that happening. I don’t see Trump hiring anyone within Washington for substantive positions. The reason he’s running for president is because he DOESN’T TRUST Washington. And Trump’s not a stupid man. If he’s running against Washington, as he has been, he’s not going to suddenly hire Washington once he’s elected.
Instead, he’ll hire his New York sycophants, however initially unsuited they will be for their tasks. He’ll hire the people who are solely owe their positions to him, not GOP party hierarchy.
Frankly, if the GOP party hierarchy was just a collection of political hacks “angling for jobs,” I would think they’d be smart enough to connive for a nominee who’d be most likely to guarantee them those jobs. But then again, it’s also probable, given how the GOP has botched the last couple of national elections, that Republicans just aren’t smart enough to realize just how disruptive a Trump Presidency will be to their long-term interests.