Democrats Trolled Again By Trump. This is Power

It has to be evident by now that nobody in Washington has a clue* of the extent President-elect Trump can troll the news cycles. First, against interest, House Republicans decided to emasculate the Office of Congressional Ethics, because they were scared it would be used as a political tool against them.

Today, we know that the amendment agreed to yesterday is dead, and the entire event will soon be off the news cycle. But it’s how it happened that yields the lesson, taught for probably the thousandth time since Trump began his campaign.

Trump’s swamp whiskers were tingling before the news made it past Rachel Maddow’s lips. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the media waited for Trump to tweet. It didn’t matter what anyone else said. Until Trump tweeted, nothing mattered. This is power.

Then four minutes later, the second tweet.

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel wrote probably the most self-aware take about the 4-minute tweet gap.

But even in those four minutes, Democrats were rejoicing about yet another case of Trump wrecking the GOP’s careful messaging. (I’m not in the habit of eavesdropping, but it was impossible to miss the chatter on the Hill.) In the next hour, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan put out a statement that said the OCE was “in need of reform,” and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told reporters that the public had gotten the wrong idea about what the reform did.

Before the Democrats could even get their sharks circling, Trump had stolen the valor of reversing a truly boneheaded move by Congressional Republicans. Honestly, it gives me much pleasure to watch this.

But Trump’s intervention had changed the story. Suddenly, instead of Democrats holding the Republicans accountable, the Republicans had caved for a number of reasons. Among the reasons, some admitted, was Donald Trump. Yes, there had been angry phone calls, and plenty of angry tweets, but Trump, as usual, pushed everything into a circus tent.

By the afternoon, in some media coverage, the Democrats were basically cut out of the story. On cable news, the chyrons were all about Trump; one columnist saluted his “easy win.” Amy Davidson, a New Yorker columnist who is no Trump apologist, framed the story as Trump scoring over his own party, and maybe even over Democrats who would have benefited from weak ethics rules. “If they thought that Trump would cover for them, and help make them look good, the picture is that much more pathetic,” Davidson wrote of the GOP.

See, Trump didn’t “intervene.” He merely expressed his opinion. He didn’t call for Congress to kill the amendment. He didn’t even tweet that House Republicans were wrong to make the changes they agreed on. But he got the credit for all of that, and Democrats like Nancy Pelosi came out looking like dorks.

It’s even possible that, later in the term, the House could act to do the very thing Democrats wish they could have gotten away with–take press access away from the ethics watchdogs, who report to the Ethics Committee anyway. By the time they do it, Trump will have thrown a wet blanket over Democrats’ outrage machine, which spent its dry powder for nothing.

For no other reason than Trump’s ability to troll Democrats and the press, I can see that the next four years should be delicious and enjoyable to watch.

*Nobody (as in politicians and media elites) in Washington has a clue about a great many things. These include what life is like for people outside the Beltway, why they are disliked by many of those people, and how “being right” is a matter of opinion.


About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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