Donald Trump has based his entire foray into politics on creating strategic distractions. He’s taken it to such high stakes that he’s even been willing to create an embarrassing controversy for himself just to take attention away from a more damaging scandal he knows is erupting. It’s allowed him to survive. But this past week has demonstrated that even Trump is is now running out of workable distractions, and that his efforts are now working against him.
For the brief moment last night when it appeared the “skinny” version of TrumpCare would pass the Senate, there was the fear that perhaps Donald Trump’s distractions this week had indeed worked. He’d seemingly unleashed a deranged Anthony Scaramucci in order to fill the week’s headlines with nonsense, and thus take away attention from the Republican Senate’s unpopular TrumpCare scheme. But by the time the night was over, it had become clear that it was Trump himself who had been distracted.
If Donald Trump had spent any part of this week speaking with John McCain, listening to his concerns about the TrumpCare bill, giving him enticements to vote for it, offering to alter the bill more to his liking, then perhaps Trump might have had some hope of bringing the unpredictable McCain around to his side. But instead Trump merely assumed that McCain was coming back to Washington to vote “yes” on TrumpCare, and best anyone knows, he made no effort to make sure McCain’s vote was what he thought it was. And apart from some hollow threats, Trump’s effort to win over Lisa Murkowski’s vote was almost non-existent as well.
Instead, Trump spent the week playing footsie with Scaramucci, and ultimately fell victim to his own distraction. As a defensive strategy, continually shifting the cups around may make it more difficult for the public to figure out where Trump is hiding the scandal ball. But it’s not a valid strategy for actually getting anything done. And for all of Trump’s scandals and scandalous deflections, it may be his total inability to accomplish or govern that ends up causing his least-sure supporters on the fringes of his base to finally give up on him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report