President Trump makes so much news that I could write a half-dozen columns today just on his latest comments and tweets—any one of which would lead the news in ordinary times.
Trump says he's willing to meet with the leader of Iran, despite having abandoned the nuclear deal. I'll put that in the category of Not Happening, not least because the Iranians (unlike Kim Jong-un) say they have no interest in sitting down with the president who's squeezing their country with economic sanctions.
Trump says the Koch brothers and their network are a "total joke" and "globalist" and "highly overrated." This is a response to criticism from Charles Koch and some of his donors that the president’s rhetoric is divisive and they don’t back him on tariffs and immigration. But the Kochs were never big Trump fans and didn’t endorse him.
Trump tweeted yesterday that "the Fake News Media is going CRAZY! They are totally unhinged and in many ways, after witnessing first hand the damage they do to so many innocent and decent people, I enjoy watching." "Crazy" and "unhinged" are very strong words, but the president pretty much goes off on the press every day now.
I was not terribly excited when Trump said he would be willing to shut down the government if the Democrats don't give him funding for border security, including the wall. I view this as a negotiating tactic to pressure the other party on a hot-button issue in the midterms. After all, the last government shutdown lasted, what, a few hours?
But it led to a fascinating Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday that questioned whether Trump really cares if Republicans lose the House in November. The brinkmanship, favored by Steve Bannon, might hurt red-state Senate Democrats, but could boomerang in the House, the Journal says.
The editorial argues that the president "might not fear" a Democratic House as long as the GOP keeps the Senate: "Mr. Trump always needs a foil, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be from central political casting."
Sure, a Pelosi-run House "would mean the end of most of Mr. Trump's agenda." But he could cut deals with House Democrats on paid family leave, public-works spending and trade protectionism.
And here's the zinger: Even if the House Dems move ahead with impeachment, says the Journal, there would never be a two-thirds Senate majority for conviction. And that could help Trump win reelection if Republicans and independents "conclude he's the only barrier to a left-wing government led by a President Elizabeth Warren."
There are plenty of political assumptions baked into this speculation, of course. But the Journal (owned by Rupert Murdoch) is very much running counter to such former Republicans as George Will and Steve Schmidt urging people to vote Democratic this fall to provide a check on a president they despise.
It's true that Bill Clinton thrived (and won reelection) after the Newt Gingrich Republicans captured the House in 1994. And it's true that Trump is at odds with conservative House Republicans on a number of key issues.
But in the end I don't believe that Trump is willing to lose the House in a Machiavellian scheme to propel himself to a second term. House Democrats, even if they're smart enough to avoid impeachment, would make Trump's life miserable with endless hearings, subpoenas and investigations. And they'd play to their base by blocking nearly everything he wants to do.
The president will almost certainly avoid a government shutdown and try to save his House majority, because it would be even harder to win reelection after two years of getting nothing done.