In the wake of his failure to repeal Obamacare, and ever-desperate in trying to land on a single scapegoat, Trump has gone after leaders of the Freedom Caucus, the notorious defectors that were in large part the reason the bill never made it to the floor for a vote:
And from earlier today:
Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog thinks this is a strategy that’s sure to hurt Trump with his base (“This is how he loses them: Trump rejects wingnuttery and alienates his base,” No More Mister Nice Blog, 3/30/2017):
Until now, I’ve believed that Donald Trump could hold on to his base even if his presidency continued to be a miserable failure…
But he’s flirting with disaster now. I say this not because Obamacare repeal failed (that can be blamed on Paul Ryan), or because the Muslim ban is blocked in the courts (that can be blamed on evil “activist” judges), or because he’s mired in the Russia scandal (that can be blamed on the “Deep State” or the “lying” media). He could survive all that with his base support intact. What he can’t survive is this:
“President Trump effectively declared war Thursday on the House Freedom Caucus, the powerful group of hard-line conservative Republicans who blocked the health-care bill, vowing to “fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections.”
Trump can get away with failure. What he can’t get away with is picking a fight with True Conservatives, especially in defense of a bill they hated. Very few people are taking Trump’s side at the traditionally Trump-friendly Free Republic.
And he quotes a bunch of right-wing commenters who claim they’ll give up support for Trump if this is the route he decides to go down, especially if, as Steve M. points out, he starts making bedfellows with the likes of Karl Rove:
Republican strategist Karl Rove on Thursday criticized the conservative House Freedom Caucus for recently helping sink GOP healthcare legislation.
“The Freedom Caucus did [President Trump] a grave disservice by killing the process of this bill, moving this bill forward,” Rove said of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”
I really don’t know whether his hardcore supporters—the ones who would spend their time reading articles on Free Republic and commenting on them—would abandon Trump in significant enough numbers. In every other instance they’ve forgotten or forgiven everything he’s done, explaining away every accusation as either liberal fake news or Democratic hypocrisy. They believe him when he says he won the popular vote. They believe him when he says Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. And as Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star points out in his interviews with Trump supporters in Ohio, it doesn’t even matter whether they believe him:
James Cassidy didn’t need the director of the FBI to tell him Barack Obama never wiretapped Donald Trump at Trump Tower. Cassidy knew from the start that Trump made the whole thing up.
He was happy the president lied.
“He’s ruffling every feather in Washington that he can ruffle. These guys are scrambling. So: yeah! I like it. I think it’s a good thing. I want to see them jump around a little bit,” Cassidy, 58, said on Tuesday.
They didn’t care when he got all buddy-buddy with Paul Ryan or negated to “Drain the Swamp” in favor of making it one of if not the swampiest swamps in recent memory. They didn’t care when he didn’t throw Hillary Clinton in jail or when he laid out the plan for how Mexico won’t pay for the wall. Furthermore, his Twitter tirade fits into his pattern of lashing out at those who have slighted him. The only factor that makes this mildly significant is that it’s the first instance (that I can recall) where there are at least some hardcore Trumpists who aren’t falling in line behind him. These are people who turned on Fox News pundits the second they criticized Trump. So yeah, that’s different.
In an instance like this it’s probably more pertinent to try and find out what casual Trump supporters—the ones who never would have voted for Clinton but might have toyed with the idea of voting for Sanders—think about this, and my inclination is that they’re pretty disengaged from politics and so aren’t following the banal minutiae too closely. They want to see their insurance premiums go down. That’s what they care about.
Besides, given everything he’s said and done so far, it won’t take more than a week or a few days for Trump to “course-correct” and go back to being his usual kind of lunatic. And then all will be forgiven. Still, this kind of flailing does seem pretty desperate. If his supporters were saying that, then I’d be more inclined to agree with Steve.