The Democrats have a Twitter problem: They suck at it.
Donald Trump has understands that Twitter is a amazing platform for punchy one-liners. He is brilliant at it. His sound bites come fast and furious and the press eats it up so he dominates the news cycle at will.
The Dems have no answer to this. Their top legislators, Nancy Peolsi and Chuck Schumer, play it safe on Twitter. Rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar do as well. That makes sense electorally and legislatively, but not in terms of taking Trump on.
What the Dems need is a trash talking surrogate. Someone who can command press attention, sink to Trump’s level of discourse and command enough press attention to stay in the news.
The obvious option is one of the almost 20 people running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. One of them should just go for it. How about Beto O’Rourke? There is no way he actually get the nomination, but the press loves him and if he goes mano a mano against Trump on Twitter they will love him even more.
It might even boost his presidential chances. After all, it worked for Trump.
The Democrats want to take a look at Donald Trump’s taxes. What are they going to find that we don’t already know?
We already know that Trump doesn’t pay a lot of taxes. He says this makes him smart, and you know what? It does. Who doesn’t want to take advantage of the tax code and its loopholes?
The tax returns might also show that Trump is not as wealthy as he claims to be. But we already know this as well. The fact that Donald Trump exaggerates his wealth, hand size or whatever when it suits him is not going to shock anyone.
So why is Trump fighting so hard to keep his taxes private? One reason is ego – he doesn’t want to have to admit that he exaggerates his wealth. But there is probably a bigger reason.
Trump’s tax returns likely contain a whole bunch of information about who he is doing business with. His partnerships are probably with obscure off shore entities, but some journalist is eventually going to figure out who is behind them.
When the world sees who Trump is doing business with it is not going to look good for him. Nor will it be good for Trump’s business partners. None of them will appreciate being in the spotlight.
A few weeks ago Donald Trump threatened to close the Mexican border. “I’m not playing games” said Trump. Some people evidently thought he was, so two days later the White House had to double down: Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway insisted that the president’s threat “certainly isn’t a bluff.”
Still, no one really took him all that seriously, except the talking heads in the media that needed fresh meat to chew on. Sure enough, less than a week after his threat, Trump reversed himself. He was going to give Mexico a “one year warning” instead.
The same week, Trump also backed off on a threat to go after Obamacare again. The last time Trump actually followed through on one of his big threats, he shut the government down and it didn’t work out so well for him.
Still, don’t look for Trump to stop making threats. It’s his MO and has worked for him all of his life. In addition, he doesn’t appear to know any other way to negotiate.
The problem for Trump is that fewer and fewer people believe his treats. Which makes him look impotent. Which is a problem for all of us, because if he feels like no one is taking him seriously he may resort to something dramatic that could be good for his ego but a disaster for the country.
As of this writing, Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected are pretty good. Nobody, including Michael Cohen, has disclosed anything new about him. Everyone knows that he’s ethically bankrupt, a liar, a serial philanderer and runs his business right on the edge of legality. None of that bothers his supporters.
A big part of the election result will depend on the economy and Trump is doing everything he can to goose it. There may be hell to pay down the road, but he will be out of office by then. Caring about the long term isn’t his style (except when it comes to his family).
Given a decent economy and Trump’s supporters’ ambivalence about his character flaws, it is hard to see how a Democrat can defeat him. Even if Robert Mueller finds that Trump colluded with the Russians, his supporters won’t care. They like Trump because he fights to win – of course he would take help from the Russians. Besides, the Russians weren’t the enemy, Hillary was.
It will take something much more egregious to shake Trump’s supporters confidence and make them stay home on election day. Something like Trump knowingly laundering drug or human trafficking money for the Russian mafia. Or him cavorting with underage girls with his friend Jeffery Epstein. Or pardoning Epstein.
Those are all longshots, as are the chances of a Democrat being elected president.
What if Attorney General Bob Barr decides not to release all of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report? The Democrats in Congress could try to subpoena it, but that will take forever in court challenges.
Instead, they should channel their inner Donald Trump.
When Trump was a candidate and Hillary Clinton’s emails went missing, Trump asked for help in finding them: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
So if the Mueller report can’t be found in the public domain, maybe the Democrats should ask if anyone can help locate it. The WikiLeaks and the Russians probably won’t assist, but others might.
Who should do the asking? Why Hillary Clinton, of course!
Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not go exactly to plan. Trump didn’t get the photo op or press he wanted and walked out. Even worse, he admitted that the summit was a failure.
Well, not quite in so many words. Trump never admits failure or mistakes. So he had to blame the failure on others. In this case, the Democrats. It was “a new low” that they had the audacity to schedule a hearing with Michael Cohen at the same time as the summit. They stole the media’s mind-share from him, an unforgivable sin.
During the two years that the Republicans controlled Congress, Trump had no problem blaming them for his legislative failures. Now that the Democrats control the House, there will be even more blame shift. The thing to remember though, is that every time Trump blames someone else for a failure, it is still a failure. He is probably going to rack up a lot more of them.
During his campaign for president, Donald Trump famously employed tactics learned as a WWE wrestling personality. For example, he tried to unnerve Hillary Clinton by stalking her during their first debate.
So far in his presidency, Trump has appeared in public alongside fawning staff and sympathetic Republican politicians. But things will be different during his upcoming State of the Union speech.
Sitting right behind his lectern will be the person who just bested him politically, Nancy Pelosi. The cameras will be watching her like a hawk for any reaction to Trump’s speech: a frown, a smirk, a frozen smile, anything.
Trump will do his WWE best to goad her into a reaction that makes her look bad. Without a doubt he will turn around and fire a comment directly at her. The only question is how many times he does this. (The over/under is two.)
The bigger issue is whether Pelosi will be ready for it. One certainly hopes so, because a one-sided WWE match is really boring.