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President Trump's 2018 Highs and Lows

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on December 19, 2018 12:05

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Washington consultant Joe Gelman believes appointing Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was President Trump's greatest success in 2018. "Failing to drain the Swamp" is his greatest failure, "because instead the Swamp is draining him."

When I asked veteran GOP observer Joe Gelman to name President Trump's greatest success in 2018, he answered immediately:

"Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court."

This marked a high point for President Trump, since he overcame a vicious smear campaign, rallied moderate GOP Senators such as Lindsey Graham to support the nominee in the face of withering media attacks, and fought like Hell. Result: Victory over the Swamp.

The Supreme Court battle subsequently stimulated GOP mojo, which enabled Republicans to increase their Senate majority despite a history of low turnout in off-year elections for the incumbent party. The Kavanaugh fight provided a model of Presidential leadership.

On the other hand, he paused for a while before answering the second question: What was President Trump's greatest failure?

After a few moments, he answered:

"Failing to drain the Swamp, because instead the Swamp is draining him."

In Gelman's view, President Trump had an obligation to fire all Democratic political appointees on Day One of his administration, because the President was elected in large measure due to his role on "The Apprentice." The American people wanted someone to say "You're Fired!" to the Swamp.

They didn't care that he was rude, crude, or inexperienced--but they did vote for change.

When President Trump hesitated, he gave the "Resistance" in both parties an opening to undermine him. Instead of draining the Swamp, the Swamp began to drain him -- with a "death of a thousand cuts."

Unable or unwilling to appoint supporters to government jobs, he permitted the bureaucracy and Congress to be used against him and his supporters.

His team thus appeared weak and afraid, instead of strong and determined. 

In Gelman's view, the President's Tweets made matters worse because he appeared powerless over his own administration--complaining on Twitter instead of cracking heads, rewarding his friends, or punishing his enemies.

Gelman thinks Tweets become counterproductive once the President has the Constitutional power to act, because they tell the American public that he is unwilling or unable to to impose his will.

So President Trump's biggest challenge in the coming year will be to reverse the perception of an ineffectual figurehead held prisoner in the White House, crying for help on Twitter.

Gelman suggests that a series of dramatic actions, taken as soon as possible, are needed to change the dynamic.

For example, he supports a government shutdown, which could be used to impose the President's will on Congress and the Executive Branch.

Bottom line: President Trump needs to do something to show he's the Boss, and that's one way of doing it.

Gelman believes he needs to keep the Government shutdown as long as necessary--up to the 2020 election--or until the other side says: "Uncle."

Otherwise, the Democratic Congress and Establishment GOP will be in charge, and Trump will be the loser.

For Gelman, 2019 will present a test of wills for President Trump v the Swamp--the winner will become stronger, while whiners end up discredited and discarded.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on December 19, 2018 12:05

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President Donald Trump has named federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick for the next Supreme Court justice.

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