Regardless of the campaign, Trump is governing as a conservative

Chait with a post today on the fact that– certainly at this point in time– the idea that Republicans would even think at all about impeaching Trump is absurd.  And, this is in large part because they are getting exactly what they want from him– conservative policies:

Many conservatives opposed Trump during the primaries because they suspected, with good reason, that his conservatism was shallow or insincere. They worried that, once elected, Trump would abandon their priorities and pursue the most expedient course.

But Trump has not done that at all. The policies or talking points Trump has abandoned are the centrist ones: He would protect Medicaid from cuts, give everybody terrific coverage, hammer the big banks, spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, and cut deals with both parties. This week, Trump formally abandoned the last possible area of ideological compromise in infrastructure, “clarifying” that his plan relies on private industry, states, or cities ponying up the money. Trump’s budget actually cuts federal investments in infrastructure. He has positioned himself to the right of even House Republicans on domestic spending, and continues to push for their grossly unpopular plan to cut a trillion dollars from Obamacare. [emphasis mine] “The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true,” points out the popular conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager.

Trump is faithfully supporting the conservative agenda, so most conservatives faithfully support him. Their concerns are pragmatic ones about his effectiveness on behalf of their common agenda, rather than moral objections to the legitimacy and propriety of his actions. Trump may have committed impeachable offenses, but the impeachment clock has not even begun to move.

As dumb as Trump is, he certainly has some political savvy.  He knew that pretending to be more centrist would work in winning over white working class voters.  And he knows that as president, accomplishing anything depends on the conservatives in control of Congress.  And since he has few core beliefs other than hating immigrants and believing the world is zero-sum, it’s easy enough for him to be flexible.

Photo of the day

The latest research suggests that the first Homo Sapiens evolved in Africa at least 300,000 years ago, not 200,000, as previously thought.  This calls into question a lot of what we thought we knew about the origin of Homo Sapiens (oh, and hey, another chance for me to plug Sapiens).  Anyway, I just think it is really cool to think that early humans where making the tools in this photo 300,00 years ago.

Some of the stone tools found at the Jebel Irhoud site. CreditMohammed Kamal/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Why did Trump try so hard to stop the investigation of Flynn?

Some solid analysis from Aaron Blake:

As top intelligence and law enforcement officials testify in front of Congress this week, one big question looms: Did President Trump attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation?

It’s a question with all kinds of legal ins and outs and is very unlikely to be resolved in the next two days. But from a political and appearance perspective, Trump just suffered another major setback.

The Post’s Adam Entous reported late Tuesday night that Trump in March asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene in the Russia investigation by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the agency’s focus on Michael Flynn. Coats reportedly told associates about Trump’s request shortly afterward…

But here’s why the latest news is particularly bad for Trump: It erases any idea that the Comey request was just a one-off. We have now learned that Comey isn’t the only top official whom Trump approached in an effort to free Flynn from his investigation…

The question from there becomes why — why did Trump feel so strongly about getting Flynn off the hook? And there are basically two good answers to that question:

  1. Trump is excessively loyal to Michael Flynn, to a fault
  2. Trump fears what could come of the Flynn investigation…

As for Possibility No. 1, it’s worth noting that Trump is a notoriously fickle political operator with few true friends and bulletproof advisers. [emphases mine] He dispatched two of his chief campaign aides — Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort — when it suited him. And as president he has made pretty clear his unhappiness with top adviser Stephen K. Bannon and even, according to reports this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was way out front of almost every other congressional Republican in supporting Trump’s candidacy. He’s also distanced himself from longtime political confidant Roger Stone.

Put plainly: The president known for his “You’re fired” catchphrase as a reality TV star hasn’t exactly shown that excessive loyalty is among his chief faults. Could he perhaps be uniquely loyal to Flynn for some reason? It’s possible. But against this backdrop it would seem odd that Flynn would be the one Trump aide whom the president seems to be unwilling to toss under the bus when it made sense to, politically speaking…

Possibility No. 2 is the much worse option for the White House. If Trump isn’tburdened by some strangely large amount of loyalty to Flynn, that suggests he worries about what could come of an investigation into Flynn.

Honestly, at this point, even if it turns out Flynn has done literally nothing wrong with the Russians (there’s plenty of evidence he’s broken laws– lock him up!!), Trump’s behavior is clearly prosecutable as obstruction of justice and just plain wrong.

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