Donald Trump campaign signs. (photo: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
26 March 17
’m going to go out on a limb, but remember that you heard it here first: Donald Trump is done. He’s finished. He’s a lame duck president 65 days into his term. As president and head of the Republican Party, he couldn’t even get his own party members to vote for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, even after the Republican-controlled House voted more than three dozen times since 2011 to do exactly that and after nearly every Republican candidate for federal office promised to do so. If Trump can’t bring his own party into line on its most important campaign promise, he’s unlikely to be able to accomplish anything else.
Trump also promised during the campaign to “drain the swamp” and to name outsiders, rather than lobbyists and professional political hangers-on, to important policy positions in Washington. It’s not working. Trump should have hired people from the swamp, who know how the city runs and how to get things done. But Trump isn’t capable of learning from the mistakes or others. Instead, he brought in the likes of Steve Bannon and neo-Nazi Sebastian Gorka to run the show.
This same “drain the swamp” thing has happened in the past. Jimmy Carter promised in the 1976 campaign to bring in outsiders, to push out the insiders, and to turn Washington politics upside down. Instead, he couldn’t get along with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV) or House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) and was able to pass almost no legislation of any note. In the 1980 elections, voters punished the president — and the Democrats in Congress — for the gridlock by giving the presidency to Ronald Reagan by an electoral vote of 489-49, the Democrats lost the Senate, and they lost 34 seats in the House.
CNN political commentator David Gergen, who has served in senior positions for presidents of both parties, including Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, said last week that Trump’s first 100 days in office have so far been the worst in presidential history — and we’re only two-thirds of the way into it. Gergen and others argue that, absent a major unifying event like, God forbid, a terrorist attack, it will be virtually impossible for Trump to push through Congress any controversial or polarizing legislation. With his abject failure on the health care bill, an utter lack of a bully pulpit, no political capital to hold over the heads of either Democrats or Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the Democrats’ willingness to use the filibuster in the Senate, Trump is simply crippled legislatively.
That’s good for the country, for the most part. (I say “for the most part” because I think the country really does need a major infrastructure spending bill.) Don’t expect any major legislation on school vouchers, though. Don’t expect any new legislation to restrict abortion rights. Don’t expect any real effort to shut down the departments and agencies that Trump railed against during the campaign. His own party members just aren’t intimidated by him. They don’t feel compelled to do what he wants.
Now is not the time for the opposition to sit on their laurels. There’s an old saying in Washington: “Don’t kick a man when he’s down. But once he’s down, don’t stop kicking him.” And that’s what Democrats, progressives, and others have to do — keep kicking. If we keep up the pressure, if we continue our activism, if we block legislation, if we remain in the streets, we can make this president an asterisk in the history books. We can emasculate him starting now. Let’s do it.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act - a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.