Many who oppose Donald Trump, or fear him, are dreading tomorrow’s inauguration and what comes after. Not me. I’m looking forward to it. Don’t worry, I hate Trump as much as you do. But it’s about time he finally gets his feet held to the fire. During his time as president-elect, he’s said and done one stupid or demented or corrupt thing after another — and the people in the American middle keep saying “Give him a chance, he’ll start acting like a different person once he’s in office.” They’re about to see otherwise, and taking him on is about to become much easier.
Trump’s antics and scandals over the past two months have hurt him. His approval rating has plummeted into the high thirties, well below the mid to low forties range he was hanging onto just after election day. This matters because, as Barack Obama once said, a popular president can get away with just about anything, while an unpopular president can’t get away with much.
We see this with the Republicans in Congress, as they try to ram through their agenda as quickly as possible, because they don’t expect Trump to remain viable before long. If his approval rating falls into the low thirties or worse, they’ll have to distance themselves from him just to keep themselves viable. After all, most of them are up for reelection in two years, and the ones in moderate districts will have Trump hanging around their neck like an albatross. So the worse Trump’s approval rating gets, the less that either he or the GOP can get away with during his term. Moreover, Trump doesn’t seem to get that at all.
Donald Trump and his transition team have approached the presidency thus far as if it were a magic wand. They’ve picked cabinet nominees who are scandal laden, and it appears none of them were properly prepped to answer the kind of questions we all knew they’d face. In so doing, Trump handed the Democrats free ammunition to use for chipping away at his already weak credibility. And Trump’s obsessive insistence on bringing up the Russia scandal means people won’t be as quick to forget about it.
What Trump is about to learn is that the presidency is less like a magic wand, and more like trying to drive a Lamborghini while wearing a straitjacket. As of tomorrow, he’ll be expected to get everything perfectly right, and to do it in the perfectly right way. He’ll be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in the nation and in the world. The people in the middle will begin holding it against him when he keeps flubbing everything. His approval rating will plummet even lower. And that’ll make him so crippled that he can’t do any of the things he wants to do.
For two months, Donald Trump has been holding America hostage. He’s been a moving target whom no critic could pin down, because he’s had no responsibilities and thus no accountability. That all changes once he’s sworn in. Now everything is about to be his fault. And the people in the middle will finally be willing to listen to those who accurately point out how he’s blowing it. I say bring it on.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report