Mulvaney Bullies Congress While Trump Suffers Successful Tough Guy Delusion
The Trump Administration breathes depleting testosterone. The predominately white, predominately male, predominately older power brokers in the Oval Office covet strength, toughness, muscle and tenacity. Inexperienced, and led by an intellectually unavailable narcissist, all inner circle players utilize pseduo-autocratic bullying tactics to move an angry political agenda.
Immigration policy, a populist hot button, is extraordinarily susceptible to Executive intimidation. The Administration is currently engaged in an obvious, but, plausibly deniable mass deportation effort. Undocumented immigrants from Central America are literally being rounded up and forcibly removed.
Successfully bullying “the man on the street” may have inspired legal, political extortion. POTUS and his henchmen want metropolitan centers to enforce aggressive deportation policies or they will withhold hard currency. The Administration promised to cut federal funding for Sanctuary Cities, “cities that limit cooperation with the federal government in order to help people who are in the country illegally avoid deportation.”
Federal funding, legislative in nature, is a matter of law. Congress drafts and approves all government spending initiatives. POTUS either signs or vetoes those bills. President Tough Guy wants Congress to fast track his big city defunding initiative and he wants it now!
Donald Trump’s Budget Director (and aspiring bureaucratic hatchet man), Mick Mulvaney recently said, “Elections have consequences. The president needs to see his priorities funded if he’s going to be participating in signing these bills.”
Mulvaney has been pressuring House Republicans to insert a “poison pill” into a must-pass spending bill. The Government will shut down if the legislation is not approved by Congress and signed by the President on or around April 28, 2017. According to Politico, the director wants the legislation “to include language to restrict federal funding grants for cities that do not enforce federal immigration policies.”
Following up on Attorney General Jeff Session’s unannounced guest appearance at Sean Spicer’s daily press briefing, Mulvaney intends to ensure Trump’s aggressive immigration policy is reflected in any Congressional funding package.
- The short game: Strong-arm Congressional Republicans and blackmail Democrats. Force GOP leaders to insert the controversial language and dare Democrats to vote “no”
- The calculus: Paul Ryan, wounded by the last Obamacare repeal attempt, will do whatever the President wants. Freedom Caucus members, inspired by the hateful rhetoric, will vote for the bill. Democrats, fearful of being blamed for a government shutdown, will acquiesce
Unfortunately, for the President and “Mick the Consigliere Mulvaney,” peace through strength is not a domestic policy.
This grade school approach to legislative arm twisting fizzled the moment it was initiated. Last month, Freedom Caucus Republicans in the House of Representatives laughed off Steve Bannon’s “you have no choice but to vote for this bill” ultimatum. Our Emperor-in-Chief may still sport very long ties that are made in China, but no longer has any clothes.
Republican leaders, bully-proof and free to make sensible policy decisions, will respectfully scoff at Mulvaney’s impotent demands. They are no longer tethered to the President’s legislative ego. Donald’s reliably low favorability ratings mitigate potential constituent backlash.
If Speaker Paul Ryan finds a way to lose face (again) and herniates another disk in his political backbone the toxic bill will still die a quick, dishonorable death. Democrats will demonize the soul of legislation in the House and filibuster the life out of it in the Senate.
If the government subsequently shuts down, the President will play the victim and (once again) the fool. Missteps, miscalculation and mismanagement define this Administration’s efforts at home. The White House’s undisciplined, mixed-messaging, Public Relations peanut gallery will spin Democratic obstruction and still take a severe popularity hit.
Why do this now? Domestic policy failure is this Administration’s new normal. Why try to bludgeon Congress over the head with a mean-spirited, spiteful rider? More importantly, why risk such an obvious debacle?
Donald Trump may be under a “successful tough guy” delusion. Several Tomahawk missiles and a big Afgan bomb preceded three, marginal foreign policy successes. Those perceived wins overseas lured the President and all his men into a false sense of security. And why not? Donald J. Trump seduced Chinese President Xi Jinping with “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake”, he scared Kim Jung-un into conducting another missle test, he bombed a Syrian air base into functionality, he ordered a fearsome naval armada to a place it didn’t go and he neutralized 36 terrorists with the biggest freakin’ explosion since Nagasaki.
The President lives in Opposite Land. He’s twenty two years old again and he’s under the illusion that he’s kicking butt and taking names. If he’s this much of a raging bad ass overseas, surely he can muscle his will into the pork belly of the US Congress!
Probably not. Mick Mulvaney’s congressional demands are inappropriately absurd. More importantly, sticking his nose into Congress’ business weakens the President’s leverage-free, negotiating position. Consistent failure at home does not inspire confidence and strength.
Just over 95 days in Office, the President is already flirting with lame duck status. The raucous campaigner who often howled, “You will get tired of winning”, can’t help but lose. Everything he touches turns to mud.
- He’s not going to get his sanctuary city edict included in funding bill (and he will sign it).
- He may never acquire full funding for his Great Wall of Trumpistan (unless Mitch McConnell blows up the Senate and kills what’s left of the the filibuster).
- Coal jobs — victims of competition and automation — are never coming back.
- If Trump’s Muslim ban makes it to the Supreme Court, his own Judge may vote against it.
- Obamacare repeal/replace may prove unable to be resurrected.
- His “once in 50 years” tax reform plan may wind up a half-baked compromise called the “candy option” (I didn’t make that up).
Although the President will never and can never take a kinder, gentler approach to immigration policy, he and his compadres can mature. They can approach the issue, and all issues, with reasoned thinking, aggressive Conservative policy and compassionate implementation.
As we age nature takes its toll on our physical selves. The universe is all about balance and tends to compensate with wisdom. The older you get, the wiser you are. President Trump, Mick Mulvaney (and the rest of the older, angry, white men in the Oval Office) would do well to stop acting like reckless, nineteen year old shit-kickers with booming testosterone levels. These Alpha Male, ultra-transparent demonstrations of strength over substance emphasize blatant insecurity and an intellectual frailty that stems from uninformed ignorance.
With limited introspection the adolescent brain drain could coalesce into a meeting of the minds. Impulsive policy could give way to ideological governance. (Liberals would still hate it, but, we wouldn’t pray for impeachment in an effort to save the Republic).
If Donald Trump and his Mulvaney-like underlings don’t succumb to impeachment and/or prosecution, “fools acting like boys” will be their undoing. The President’s incessant need to be tough, to be strong, to be the baddest-assed President there never was is his Achille’s heel if not his undiagnosed mental illness. He has to be the new sheriff in town. Respect will not be earned, it’s expected!
Sadly for Donald J., this isn’t Turkey. Tayyip Erdogan may very well be the new Sultan in Istanbul. That’s not going to happen in the United States. Small hands aside, Trump, Mulvaney and the rest of the Apple Dumpling Gang will rule more with a rubber stamp then an iron fist.