The conservative Wall Street Journal, which has been generally supportive of President Trump and his political agenda, on Tuesday lambasted the president and his family in an editorial headlined, “The Trumps and the Truth.” If the president loses the Journal, which has frequently been at odds with the liberal mainstream media, his presidency is in serious trouble.
“A major reason he (Trump) won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling,” the Journal opined. “Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.” I couldn’t agree more.
Instead of opting for full disclosure — releasing as much public information as possible about Russia contacts as fast as possible — the Trumps and their apologists and enablers have attempted to downplay the Russia story as a “nothingburger,” but their politically tone-deaf PR policy isn’t working.
“Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don (Trump) Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere ... the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide (and) have created the appearance of a conspiracy,” the Journal continued.
Meanwhile, as President Trump denounces investigations of his family’s Russia ties as a giant witch hunt, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, and two congressional committees are investigating the Russia story and Democrats are gleefully keeping the story alive by using the president’s own words against him. In other words, as we already knew, Trump is his own worst enemy.
As the Wall Street Journal recommends, Trump and his new, high-powered Washington attorney Ty Cobb “should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russia investigations.” And they should tell the Sean Hannitys and Newt Gingriches of the world to drop the strident Fake News defense. It isn’t working. Several of their fellow Fox News colleagues, including respected Sunday show host Chris Wallace and top-rated news anchor Shepard Smith, have had enough of that nonsense. Enough already!
Meanwhile, with so much media attention on the Russia story, Trump’s legislative agenda is floundering. His push to repeal and replace Obamacare crashed and burned last week as several Republican senators said they couldn’t or wouldn’t vote for a hastily drafted GOP healthcare bill. Three female GOP senators said they would be voting “no,” which spared Nevada’s Dean Heller from casting a deciding vote as Trump personally lobbied him for a “yes” vote. The moderate Heller will probably have primary opposition from the right next year. Could perennial right-wing candidate Sharron Angle, or even Michelle Fiore, be planning yet another comeback? Help!
I’m amazed so many politically astute Republicans stuck with the “repeal and replace” mantra long past its expiration date. Lesson learned: Once voters receive an entitlement — free or cheap stuff from the government — they’re reluctant to give it up, no matter whether it makes fiscal sense or not. So even though Obamacare is imploding from within and Medicaid is going broke, Republicans couldn’t sell their repeal and replace plan to voters.
As the Wall Street Journal predicted, “If Mr. Trump’s approval ratings stay below 40 percent into next year, Republicans will begin to separate themselves from an unpopular president ... (and) impeachment will be a constant undercurrent.” I’m sure that’s what Trump’s trusted family members and friends are telling the president. But is he listening? Probably not. How sad.
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.