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El Jefe




I think you're on to the corrupt bargain that holds the whole thing together. Ryan and McConnell indeed value the sheer distraction Trump creates while they (Ryan & McConnell) get on with business. And they have several very big trumps in their hand (see what I did there.) One is that between the fact that Flynn and Trump's son-in-law (the one now ensconced in the West Wing) are so open and zealous and flibbertigibbet about their pro-Russia sympathies that they will eventually do something that violates the Espionage Act and we'll get a "what did the President know" handwringing to keep Trump in line on domestic policy, or if not that, that given how clumsy Trump has been in practical terms with his business dealings (he's always skated by making it more trouble than it's worth to go after him, not by clever ways out) an actual Emoluments Clause case piles up. Both of these are leverage. The other is the man himself, that either the stresses of the job (they've determined a four-year presidential term does about ten years of "standard" cardiac damage) as so much of the public brazenly decides not to love him like he oughta be loved, will either cause a seventy-something man in worse health than he likes to admit to have a physical breakdown, or cause some kind of emotional break where he resigns saying Washington has made it impossible to govern and (because there's a nihilist streak in him that's the one truly, deeply frightening thing about him) tries to take the open-carry yahoos who think he's the caudillo they've always wanted into the streets with him. In either case Ryan and McConnell have an absolutely perfect backup: Mike Pence. If Trump goes down because he at some point decides, just has he's done exactly what he said he would so far, that he wants to defend a rednecks-only welfare state with some form of Social Security and Medicare still in place, the Congressional bosses have several levers to press that could make him (to borrow the title of Ted Agnew's memoir) go quietly or else. The problem with that for them is that if the Democrats ever transformed into a well-organized political party down to the precinct level that actually stood for fighting for a specific set of principles come what may (sorry, I had to pause for a few minutes there to up my meds, I started laughing uncontrollably), following the script could have disastrous results come midterms. There are lots of stodgy late-middle-aged white people out there terrified of losing their health insurance and that does not bode well for the off-year results, combined with liberals actually mobilized (for once...) by the sheer horror of what Trump's getting up to. So they have a particularly narrow window, which means they need to keep the reins tight on Der Doofenfuhrer, not only using him as a distracting shiny object but keeping him focused on those actions and the furors that result so he doesn't try to take a hand in legimaslatin' stuff.

David Rickard

I expect Ryan/McConnell will step up with impeachment/25th Amendment action when[1] Trump causes a crisis that threatens their jobs/bank accounts/lives...

[1] Given the shitgibbin's character and incompetence, a major economic or military crisis is a matter of when, not if...

El Jefe

David Rickard,

It is a sobering thing to say but that is where we are -- the man in question is a conservative so steel-jawed he could chew through half-inch bolts, but I say a little prayer daily for James Mattis' health and job security. Few other people are in a position to actually stop Trump from doing something truly disastrous if this presidentin' thing starts to go south on him and his nihilist streak rears its head. Mattis' may be right-wing in an increasingly old-fashioned sense but he is an honest patriot in his way and believes entirely in the oaths he swore to the Constitution and the "all enemies foreign and domestic" bit both as a Marine and a cabinet secretary. And he still has the sanity to not assume Trump/Bannon's vision of who counts as an enemy is an absolute. And that is frankly a terrifying place to be in the world's longest-serving constitutional republic, when you find yourself Turkish-style counting on the military to provide secular stability against wildly erratic populist leaders. (At least three branches of it, the ground-pounders and the squids, the Air Force have been churning a disturbing number of God-botherers out of their service academy for some decades now.)

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