Viewpoint: Trump’s best week, Democrats worst? Hardly

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Karen Rubin, Columnist

Best week for Trump, worst week for Democrats?

You compare a week with the damning summations of criminal conduct against the sitting president for extorting a foreign government to interfere with the 2020 election, his unhinged, unholy attacks and promise to take revenge on his enemies, and a budget proposal which steals one trillion dollars from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the environment, with an app snafu at the Iowa Caucus (helped by Trumper sabotage) which ultimately will have zero impact on free and fair elections. This is evidence of a resurgent Trump and a collapsing Democratic Party?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had warned that impeachment would rally Trumpers because an acquittal, requiring 67 votes in the Senate, was inevitable.

But the Democrats had no choice but to impeach (“He impeached himself,” she had declared) because not to act would have similarly unleashed an emboldened Trump to continue to break laws – emoluments, campaign finance, elections, obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress – just as his “acquittal” has.

One can trace an arc from that first House victory repealing Obamacare when he declared with amazement, “I’m president. Can you believe it?” to gradually realizing the power of the presidency and exceeding it, flexing muscles, throwing out guardrails, and like an infant who has grown from the terrible two’s too terrifying teens, now declares, “I can do anything I want. I’m president.”

But people see who Trump is and recognize what a threat he is to the Republic – maybe not the 33 percent who love him for his cruelty, but the rest.

Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to tamper with the election – having his Justice Department become a political operation, inviting Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the Bidens contradicting his new policy not to investigate a 2020 candidate, creating an enemies list of others who will be probed and prosecuted, and inviting foreign interference using foreign aid and trade deals as leverage.

He is also actively interfering with the Democratic primary. Trumpers flooded the Iowa Caucus telephone banks, delaying reporting results when the app failed, bolstering Bernie Sanders, or more precisely, the rage among Bernie bros, just as he did with Russia’s social media bots help in the 2016 election.

Trump wants most to run against Bernie Sanders because he believes Sanders is the easiest candidate to destroy in a general election, equating him to socialists like Venezuela President Maduro.

“Socialism destroys nations,” Trump said in his State of the Union address. “But always remember: Freedom unifies the soul… I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.”

“Moscow” Mitch McConnell and the Republicans think they have pulled a fast one. Indeed, Trump’s “approval” rating went to a new high, 44 percent on average (one outlier had him at 49 percent) – still not a majority.

And if impeachment was supposed to fire up the Trumpers, Trump’s unhinged, venal, corrupt behavior, out there with such glaring clarity rather than massaged and secreted, has fired up the anti-Trumpers.

Americans can now see how Trump abuses his power. He turned the State of the Union address at the capitol building into a crass political rally (violating Hatch Act, surely), took revenge on New York State with his political revocation of the Trusted Traveler Program for New Yorkers, on top of the SALT tax increase, pulling infrastructure funding from the Gateway Tunnel, LaGuardia, and Second Ave Subway, showing how he uses infrastructure spending as a political slush fund to reward supporters and punish opponents.

“His legacy will be that no President has ever told New York to ‘drop dead’ more times than Trump,” Gov. Cuomo said in a tweet in response to a Trump attack.

Trump doesn’t care because New York doesn’t factor in his Electoral College win. Nor does Puerto Rico, or California, which he similarly abuses his power to abuse. On the other hand, New York and California are big sources of campaign donations and are media centers.

Chris Hayes, on the eve of New Hampshire primary, as Trump was holding a hate rally across the street, asserted that people are overstating Trump’s “great week.”

“The majority still oppose Trump,” Hayes said. “After his ‘best week’ he’s still at 44 percent approval; the majority wanted him removed.” And 75 percent wanted to hear from witnesses.

Everyone is so traumatized by 2016, Hayes said. Democrats are in a panic, desperate to pick a candidate they are convinced can beat Trump.

The electoral college is still Trump’s ace in the hole, and now instead of depending on Russia, he holds the bullying pulpit and the levers of power – using foreign aid, trade deals to coerce interference that this time can go beyond social media disinformation campaigns to outright vote switching. Launching investigations against political rivals and critics, undertaking his own social media disinformation campaign to smear reputations.

“He can win [using the levers of powers], but he can be beat,” Hayes insisted.

That is because the Trump agenda and Republicans are unpopular. Trump is in court trying to overturn Affordable Care Act and its provisions protecting pre-existing conditions, and his proposed budget – a reflection of his “values” – would cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid by $800 billion; cut the EPA budget by 26 percent, slash funding to clean up Superfund sites, while gutting environmental protection that will result in new superfund sites, and implementing policies that exacerbate heat-trapping carbon emissions causing climate change.

“The Affordable Care Act is 10 points more popular than Trump. He is gutting the Clean Water Act, laid waste to the environment,” Hayes said.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the subject of Trump’s latest attacks, tweeted, “Budgets reflect values, and those behind Trump’s budget are clear: Cuts to Medicaid, children’s health care, Medicare, the EPA, the Department of Education, the CDC, affordable housing programs. These are not our values.”

People now realize that 2020 is indeed the most important election of our lifetimes – it may even be the last.

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