As Jerry Nadler drafted articles of impeachment on Wednesday, President Donald Trump held firm at a 46 percent job approval rating, according to a Hill/Harris X poll.
It is not just that Americans are rallying around their president as they watch the Democrats build a scaffold on which to lynch him. It is also that the president is finally handling impeachment with the same strategy — and skill — that Bill Clinton did.
As Democrats do their war dance screaming for his head, Trump is seen working hard for the American people. The announcement that he has secured the assent of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the new USMCA deal provides a powerful counterpoint to the Democratic antics.
And the announcement that Trump has also reached a deal with Pelosi to provide paid family leave for all civilian federal employees (the military gets it already) is only adding extra fuel to his support.
And, for many Americans, his success in establishing a new sixth branch of the military — a Space Force —adds to his luster and momentum. All the while evidence abounds that we are in the best economic advance of modern times. Juxtapose this record with the Democratic obsession on impeachment and you have the reason Trump’s numbers are moving up.
That Trump is following Clinton’s strategy is certainly understandable. It’s about time.
But why is Pelosi playing ball? Why is she putting aside her venom and vitriol long enough to negotiate these significant achievements?
It may be that she is also following the other half of the Clinton playbook of 1996 — how Senator Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich rehabilitated their party by constructive cooperation with a president running for re-election from the other party. This resolution produced welfare reform and a balanced budget.
Pelosi is probably going along for the same reason Lott and Gingrich did — to heal her party’s wounds, repair its image and give it a fighting chance to keep Congress even if it loses the White House again.
Just as the Republicans of 1996 needed to heal their self-inflicted damage from two lengthy failed government shutdowns, the Democrats of 2020 must do something to show their voters that they are legislators, not just partisan warriors.
Pelosi understands that she can’t bet the farm on impeachment (or some other scandal). Certainly, as the drive to oust Trump runs off a cliff, she needs a Plan B.
And good for Trump for helping to provide it despite the bitterness of his base and his likely personal dislike of Pelosi.
In 1996, Clinton, Lott and Gingrich all bought into the formulation that they were incumbents first, then Democrats and Republicans. After it became clear that Clinton would win, the Republican leaders dedicated their energy to doing good for the country, the only way to stay in power.
But in this era of partisan bitterness, kudos are due to President Trump for holding his tongue and sharing the spotlight with the hated Nancy Pelosi.
It was particularly brilliant of him to make a deal for paid family leave, a great way to appeal to the suburban, educated women who often dislike him. Ivanka is thought to have played a role in his decision.
And so now we go through Christmas with the Democrats trying to make a bitter, partisan case for conviction while the president welcomes each day’s good economic news and signs treaties and bills for the nation’s benefit. And then comes the divisive, cantankerous Democratic presidential campaign against him. It will be a joy to watch.
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