On Friday at midnight, the swamp overflowed. Donald Trump was supposed to drain it. Instead he's right in the middle, a heavyweight in an already full swamp.
Of course, the Republicans will blame the Democrats, and the Democrats will blame the Republicans. The short version is that it was immigration, the president's favorite polarizing, divisive issue, that broke the dam. The story is that there was a deal, but the president and his team decided they wanted even more concessions on immigration -- which is to say, more obstacles and barriers for keeping families together and not punishing children. The president still thinks that "divide and conquer" works. Maybe in elections. Not in governing.
The stunning thing about Trump, his campaign promises notwithstanding, is how little he seems to care about the business of governing. According to reports, he still acts like a candidate, watching cable news obsessively, tweeting in every news cycle a comment on everything, dominating the front page -- and getting very little done.
Tax cuts were supposed to be the Republicans' calling card. But the president's only victory is almost certainly being overshadowed by the chaos he creates. Whether an immigration deal is ultimately reached or not, the fact that the Republican Congress and the Republican president cannot keep the government open is a mark of failure.
The president's approval rating has dropped to historic lows. What some people can't understand is why he has any support left. Why would people support a president who embarrasses us in front of the world by damning "s---hole" countries? Why would they put up with his utter failure to address health care, not to mention his party's efforts, which would have taken health insurance away from the working families who support him? Why is it a success to give tax cuts to the rich?
The answer I've always given is that there are a lot of people out there who agree with him on immigration, and even race; who could care less, as he seems to, about what the rest of the world thinks of us; who like the fact that he talks back and talks straight and doesn't sound like every other politician. That's all well and good until the government falls apart and chaos ensues as lawmakers try to redo what the president undid.
Will his base continue to support him if his reality-show presidency continues to lead to the shutdown of the government?
Donald Trump did not create the partisan divide in Washington. It's been a long time since the Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill (the Democratic speaker of the House) days when Republicans and Democrats fought by day and had a drink together at night. I still try to remind people that our enemies are not Republicans but terrorists, that we should hate the Islamic State group, not the leader of the other party in America.
Watching sausage being made (that's legislation) has never been pretty, but it was downright ugly when Trump got there, which is certainly one reason he got elected. Instead of taking on the partisanship, instead of ignoring the petty divides in the interest of getting things done, instead of being the Big Guy who is above it, the president placed himself right in the middle of the swamp, and it overflowed.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate Inc.