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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Beyond 100 days, Trump’s main opponent remains The Swamp

The instant passed on Sunday morning at 12:01 am wherever you happen to reside, that being the end of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. Don’t be alarmed that it slipped away without fanfare and probably everyone – including Trump himself – let the moment go without celebration, relief or special notation.

One-hundred days are just one-hundred days, a drop in the bucket in a president’s legacy. Kind of like the second after the final present is opened on Christmas morning, the anticipation vanishes and it’s time to start Donald Trumpcleaning up the house and begin the arduous but rewarding process of preparing the holiday dinner.

Nothing has changed in Washington since last week. Trump still faces the same dilemmas and challenges that existed on day 99 or 98 or 82. The most that can be said is now the media will stop talking about Trump’s “100 days” and perhaps start concentrating on the real work ahead of conservatives trying to right the badly listing ship of government.

As for the president, his biggest obstacle to long-term success might be getting his own party’s congressional majorities to cooperate. The media constantly snickered at the Trump’s inability to convince a majority of House Republicans to agree on several issues during his first 100 days. A similar situation awaits his recently announced tax reform proposal in the next few weeks.

As usual the centrists/moderates look to be the sticking point.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Trump's inexperience is part of the problem. Neither he nor members of his senior team tasked with negotiating big legislative deals have ever done so before.

“White House strategy, say multiple Republican insiders with ties to Capitol Hill, has been virtually nonexistent when it comes to addressing the parochial concerns of individual members and satisfying the philosophical and political priorities of the various factions.

“It's probably cost the president some wins in his first 100 days, and he's going to have to adjust and improve his negotiating skills in this arena if he doesn't want to repeat outcome over the next 100 days.”

Parochial concerns? According to the Encarta Dictionary, “parochial” means “Narrow-minded; concerned only with narrow local concerns without any regard for more general or wider issues.”

I didn’t write the definition but I would scarcely have change a word according to my understanding, since “parochial” not only describes to a “t” the “narrow-mindedness” of the Republican “centrists,” it also includes their selfish behavior.

These are the “anonymous sources” who whisper to reporters on the sidelines when members of the Freedom Caucus speak as to why they’re principally objecting to some new proposal to increase government bloat. They’re the ones who champion Speaker Paul Ryan and thank their lucky stars every morning that they get to put on a suit, wear a congressional pin and drive to an office housed in a marble monument.

Like the Democrats, they believe their sole function is to bring home federal pork to shower on contributors back in the district. Or get a building or highway onramp named after them. “Moderates” were the leading seekers of earmarks before the practice was ended in disgrace years ago. No matter, they’re more than willing to hold up the entire legislative process now because of some perceived threat to their own electoral self-survival.

Parochial concerns? Seriously? No wonder Trump is struggling with this new kind of negotiating. In his mind, making “great deals” always assumed two (or more) parties came to the table in good faith and would try to hammer out an agreement where everyone was satisfied. It’s the “getting to yes” moment where the negotiators all believe they made the best deal they could reach – and in the end they got the better end of the bargain.

A “win” is another way to put it.

But the Republican “moderates” aren’t interested in a “yes” or a “win” that will satisfy the whole of the Republican base. They’re unconcerned that the economy is in the doldrums in some far off state and might be helped by ditching some minor-by-comparison “parochial” concern. They also don’t care that a small group of them acting on self-interest could sink the fortunes of the entire Trump presidency.

Drucker’s article notes some Republicans he interviewed mentioned that Trump’s overall lower-than-desired approval ratings are having some bearing on their willingness to oppose his legislative pushes, figuring since they’re from competitive districts that may have voted for Hillary Clinton it gives them license to do whatever they want independent of the president.

Not only is this thinking “narrow-minded” it’s also “short-sighted.” Grassroots conservatives worked for years to elect a president who wouldn’t stand in the way of altering the government. The establishment and the “moderates” (one and the same, really) said all along they were merely waiting for a friendly signature at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue to act.

But now that they’ve got one they’re indifferent to the notion that their actions of today could very well mean the “friendly” executive will only last four years. If that’s the case they can keep their seats and go back to being the “opposition” that whines and complains about vetoes and a president who won’t “work” with them.

It could happen, too. Steven Shepard of Politico reports, “[A]t the 100-day mark of his presidency, Trump is still lagging behind the pace of George W. Bush and Barack Obama among members of their own parties. Combined with the historic polarization of views about Trump’s first months in the White House, those numbers present a significant challenge to the president and his party in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.

“While Trump’s average approval rating among Republicans is 86 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster, George W. Bush was at 93 percent among Republicans at the eve of his inaugural 100-day anniversary. Barack Obama was at 92 percent among Democrats.”

As would be expected of Politico, Shepard gloats over Trump’s dismal popularity among Democrats and Independents -- as if in today’s political environment with an entirely hostile media Trump would even be able to gain favor with many of his detractors.

Thus far the media has worked overtime to highlight every single “failure” of the Republican Congress and pin its dysfunction to Trump while wholesale ignoring the plethora of positive achievements during Trump’s first 100 days, most notably the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and significant regulatory rollbacks.

That’s not to mention the new positive direction of the executive branch, which has now reversed course and is doing what it’s supposed to do – execute laws.

President Trump’s post 100-day momentum will be sustained only through conservatives and Republicans working together as a team to generate policies that are popular and effective across the country. If the economy improves, so will Trump’s approval numbers. And besides, it could easily be argued Trump’s center-right policies are easily more popular than he is personally, since a tax cut won’t be tweeting and the media can’t criticize a trade position as being “un-presidential.”

Take Trump’s controversy-generating persona out of the equation and his administration already has been a huge success.

The “100 days” are over. To steal a line from the Eagles, “this ‘ol world still looks the same.”
Maybe the GOP establishment and the “moderates” should take it to heart.

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