Streetwise Professor

November 8, 2018

Election 2018: Stalemate, Which is Effectively a Victory for the Defense (Which Would Be Trump)

Filed under: Politics — cpirrong @ 7:35 pm

Sunday marks the centennial of the end of World War I.  A word that is often used to describe that war–stalemate–also describes the results of Tuesday’s mid-term election.

After an intense rhetorical barrage lasting weeks, the Big Push ended with the contending lines virtually unchanged.  Yes, the Democrats captured the House, narrowly: but the Allies penetrated a few miles here and there at the Somme, without changing the strategic balance one whit.

Stalemate works to the advantage of the defender, which is what the Trump administration and the Republicans were on Tuesday.   So in a sense they won, by depriving their foes of a clear victory.

The Democratic control of the House will have little effect.  The new majority will not be able to achieve any legislative victories.  Hell, the Republicans couldn’t do squat, even when they controlled both houses and the White House, with a few exceptions (e.g., tax legislation).

Trump will continue to focus on foreign policy, the use of executive authority on domestic matters, and domination of the terms of political debate.  The Democrats will respond exactly like the Republicans did when Obama was president: much fussing and fretting, ranting and raving, to little effect.  The dogs will bark, but the Trump caravan will move on.

The major potential problem relates to defense, where the Democrats may impede the necessary recapitalization of the military.

The Democrats have vowed to mount a major offensive of investigations.  But tell me: since Watergate, when have Congressional investigations have any real impact?  When in the majority, the Republicans mounted investigation after investigation against Clinton and Obama, to virtually no effect.  Indeed, the Republicans frequently beclowned themselves with their investigations: expect the Democrats to do the same.   And expect Trump to fight hard and fight dirty in response, and to troll them mercilessly, thereby increasing the odds they will beclown themselves.

Some Democrats vow to impeach Trump.  Ask Newt Gingrich et al how that worked out for the Republicans in 1998.

Indeed, a Democratic House will provide Trump with a foil, a whipping boy, and a scapegoat.  The Democrats are so beside themselves with outrage over Trump that they will surely overstep themselves.  Further, in their frenzy they will rise to any bait, and you can believe Trump will chum the waters incessantly.  Trump will spend the next two years baiting and running against Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and the rest.  This will work to his advantage.

Tuesday actually brought more substantive victories to the Republicans than the Democrats.  They flipped a net two Senate seats.  Indeed, I would argue that they flipped a net of four.  The two ostensibly Republican seats in Tennessee and Arizona that were kept in the party had been held by anti-Trump prima donnas, Corker and Flake, who would didn’t even qualify as RINOs.  They have been replaced by more solid conservatives (at least they are now–there is always the risk they will go native).  So I see Tuesday as giving Trump/the Republicans (who are now part of the Trump empire, for better or worse) a four seat gain in the Senate.  Add to that the conservative replacement for McCain, and the Senate has an actual Republican majority, rather than a simulacrum thereof.

Of course, since the Democrats didn’t make headway in the Senate–the Senate must be abolished! Seriously: there is a steady stream of commentary to that effect.  Adding levity to the idiocy–or is it idiocy to the levity?–some lefties are actually claiming that the Republican Senate victories are illegitimate because–wait for it!–the Republicans gerrymandered the Senate elections.

Talk about people unclear on the concept!  But never underestimate the Dunning-Kruger effect, when it comes to politics, especially on the left.

What’s more, the Kavanaugh hearings (another example of Democrat overreach and their inability to help themselves) all but radicalized other Republican senators: have you heard Lindsey Graham lately? The Senate is a far more reliable Republican/administration bulwark as of today than it was on Monday.  This bodes well for confirmations.

The next confirmation battle is likely to be over whomever Trump nominates to be Attorney General, for literally hours after the election he unceremoniously ordered Jeff Sessions to resign.

The shrieks emanating from the Democrats and the bedraggled rump of anti-Trump Republicans indicates that this is a good thing.  You can guarantee that Trump will appoint someone who will be reliable, and likely combative, unlike the all-but-emasculated Sessions.

Robert Mueller is apparently also frightened, if this is to be believed.  Assuming that it is, I am compelled to ask: who the hell [I cleaned that up] does he think he is?  Here is a guy with no formal Constitutional standing, subordinated by law to the Attorney General, claiming to question of the authority of the president to name his own cabinet.  Perhaps he should re-acquaint himself (or acquaint himself) with Article II of the Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

That is: the president can fire the likes of Sessions for reasons good, bad, or ugly.  And Bob Mueller’s permission is not required.

The hue and cry is oh my God, Mueller will be subject to a Trump-appointed AG.  Yes.  Exactly as the law is intended and exactly as it is written.  Trump was rightly furious at Sessions’ recusal, which left the “oversight” to arch insider Ron Rosenstein, who was infinitely more conflicted that Sessions, yet felt no compunction against overseeing an investigation of matters in which he was at least a witness, and arguably a principle player.

The swamp echoes with grave warnings of another Saturday Night Massacre.  Trump is not that stupid.  I think a more likely outcome is revelation of Mueller’s current hunting license (which Rosenstein has fought fiercely to keep under wraps), followed by a substantial limitation of Mueller’s investigation to the matters it was originally supposed to cover: collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Thus, the election’s end frees Trump to defend himself more vigorously against Mueller.  That’s also a victory.

In sum, the battle lines have changed little, but despite local successes by the Democrats, this battle has been a victory for the defender–Trump.

One last comment on the election, or more specifically, what it reveals about the media.  From early Wednesday morning, my Twitter feed was choked with breathless tweets from all the usual suspects (Bloomberg, the FT, Reuters, etc.), about the glorious victories of women, especially minority women.  As @shootersix (a real bad-ass, by the way) commented, the three hyped most prominently were “a 29 year-old moron, a woman who married her brother, and another waving a Palestinian flag.” Leftists winning in lefty Congressional districts.  BFD.

Meanwhile, as @shootersix noted, the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress received ZERO attention, let alone accolades for being elected while having a uterus–because she is a Republican.  As egregious as this slight, if not more so, is the fact that two Republican women who won much more consequential senatorial victories in competitive states–McSally in Arizona and Blackburn in Tennessee–were also invisible as far as the media was concerned.

In other words: to the MSM it’s not about women making political strides–it’s about leftist/socialist/terrorist-friendly women making political strides.  I’d say the mask has slipped, but it was never on in the first place, was it?

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  1. oh, disaster, misery and pain – if you caught the lamentations, even if only channel-surfing for a second, on the leftie “news” – the networks, and the cable channels like PMSNBC.

    Tom Brokenjaw was beside himself – “Trump still gets to keep his power.”

    What’s so bad about stalemate? In some respects, that’s what we had anyway for the past 2 years, even with the circular firing squad Repubs having a majority in both houses of Congress.

    I keep thinking of Will Rogers: “when I make a joke, people laugh; when Congress makes a joke, it becomes law”

    well, except after Ocasio-Cortes gets “inaugurated” – she can write anything she wants into law – that’s what’s great about being “progressive.” She can do it all on her own.

    One thing – there are still judges to be appointed, and that’s a Senate and President thing – no doubt, at this point, much to the chagrin of a certain political party which is anything but democratic any more.

    Comment by elmer — November 9, 2018 @ 7:53 am

  2. I’m with Mike @ ColdFury:

    The phrase I’m not seeing many of the sunny-side-up folks using is: lame duck. Like it or not, that’s what President Trump now is. He was always embattled, right from the very start. Now he’s hemmed in on all sides, in a seriously tough spot, way worse than before, with his room to maneuver greatly lessened. There will certainly be no second round of pump-priming tax cuts now; the gains made in restoring manufacturing and loosening the regulatory state’s stranglehold on the American economy can easily be undone by a House eager to cut off growth and prosperity.

    Comment by ETat — November 10, 2018 @ 8:36 am

  3. for those who think President Trump is done:

    Comment by elmer — November 10, 2018 @ 9:00 am

  4. @elmer–I pity the poor soul who had to sit and watch hour after hour of those creeps and morons in order to create that compilation. I can’t stand to watch any of them for a nanosecond.

    It does show effectively that the media is just 24/7 groupthink, with no one able or willing (more likely able) to come up with an original thought, and express it in original ways.

    Comment by cpirrong — November 10, 2018 @ 10:32 pm

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