Trump Solidifies His Grip on the Republican Party

New York Times: “Despite the fervor of President Trump’s Republican opponents, the president’s brand of hard-edge nationalism — with its gut-level cultural appeals and hard lines on trade and immigration — is taking root within his adopted party, and those uneasy with grievance politics are either giving in or giving up the fight.”

“In some cases, the retirement of an anti-Trump Republican could actually improve the Republican Party’s chance of retaining a seat… But such short-term advantages mask a larger, even existential threat to traditional Republicans. The Grand Old Party risks a longer-term transformation into the Party of Trump.”

Earlier: Trump Purges Enemies and Reshapes the GOP

Virtually All Republicans Are Trump Republicans

Mike Allen: “So much media coverage centers on four Republican Trump critics… Lost in this: President Trump enjoys public support (despite private gripes) from most of the 49 other Senate Republicans and 239 House Republicans, including every person in elected leadership.”

“For all the warnings of how harshly history will judge the Trump enablers, that history will need to be told in an exceptionally long book — because the vast majority of Republicans are forever marked as Trump Republicans.”

Tax Cuts Are Only Thing Holding GOP Together

New York Times: “With divisions roiling the party, the prospect of a once-in-a-generation bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals increasingly appears to be the last, best hope for a fractured establishment desperate to find common ground and advance an effort it has long championed as the pinnacle of Republican orthodoxy…”

“In the face of those divides, Republican leaders retreated to the only safe ground they have left: a partisan, fast-tracked tax bill, which party leaders hope to introduce next week in the House and deliver to Mr. Trump’s desk by Christmas. The stakes are rising by the day, as Republican donors and voters watch the intraparty dispute unfold and worry about the party advancing the legislative priorities it has long espoused, let alone holding its congressional majorities in the 2018 midterms.”

“Pressure is only increasing on Republican lawmakers, with conservative commentators and other observers saying failure on a tax bill is not an option.”

Flake Says There’s No Place for ‘a Republican Like Me’

Just before Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced he would not run for re-election, he told the Arizona Republic that “there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.”

Said Flake: “Here’s the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take… It would require me to believe in positions I don’t hold on such issues as trade and immigration, and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone.”

Flake also has an op-ed in the Washington Post:

There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious. How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced? How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off? How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it? How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?

Trump Purges Enemies and Reshapes the GOP

President Trump “is squeezing out his enemies in the Republican Party – diminishing the power of the GOP establishment and reshaping his party in his own image,” Politico reports.

“With the looming exits of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, come 2019 Trump will have rid himself of his two most outspoken Republican detractors. What happens in the meantime — Corker and Flake demonstrated Tuesday they are fully emboldened now to take on the president without fear of consequences – could determine the success or failure of the GOP-controlled Congress through the 2018 midterms.”

“But in the short-term, there is no question: Trump, and his former strategist and now-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, are winning. The casualty list of Trump critics is bleeding over to the House.”

James Hohmann: “Purges like this are always bloody. If they knew American political history better, Nick Ayers, Sean Hannity and Bannon might be a little more careful about what they wish for.”

Done with the Republican Party

Max Boot, writing for Foreign Policy:

It becomes ever harder to disagree with the verdict of foreign-policy sage Robert Kagan, like me an erstwhile Republican, who writes that the GOP in its current form is doomed and that Republicans who cannot stomach Trumpism “should change their registration and start voting for Democratic moderates and centrists, as some Republicans did in Virginia recently, to give them a leg up in their fight against the party’s left wing.” As I’ve explained before, I have my qualms about the Democratic Party, which is lurching to the left, but I am done, done, done with the GOP after more than 30 years as a loyal Republican.

This is truly Trump’s party, and that leaves me to root for Democrats to win a landslide victory in the midterm elections next fall. I have my differences with many Democratic candidates, but on the most important issue facing our nation — whether Trump is fit for office — they are right and Republicans are a disgrace.

Bannon’s Speech to California GOP Has Some Nervous

“The California Republican Party’s decision to invite right-wing provocateur and former presidential advisor Stephen Bannon to address its convention Friday created an unsettled concoction of excitement, dread and rubbernecking curiosity for GOP loyalists in the state,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Bannon will appear before a California GOP desperate to reverse its deteriorating influence in a state where it has been losing members and where Republican victories in statewide political races have been nonexistent for a decade. His admirers hope his speech will invigorate the GOP base and lure Trump supporters outside of the party into its fold. But Republican critics worry he’ll undercut efforts to rekindle the party in a state where Trump and his policies remain widely unpopular.”

Republicans Stay Silent as Trump Destroys the Party

Matt Bai: “Whatever his impact may be on the country or the world, Donald Trump’s presidency imperils the future of his party, and there isn’t a serious-minded Republican in Washington who would tell you otherwise, privately.”

“Trump doesn’t care what happens to Republicans after he’s gone. The party was always like an Uber to him — a way to get from point A to point B without having to find some other route or expend any cash.”

“Which leads to the question I hear all the time these days. Why aren’t more Republicans separating themselves from Trump? And why aren’t they doing more with the power they have to get in his way?”

Key takeaway: “The real fear for most elected officials in Washington isn’t that they may say something to offend persuadable voters… No, the fear now, if you’re sitting on either end of the Capitol, is that some no-name activist will decide to primary you, because you’ve somehow run afoul of extremists with followings on Twitter and Facebook, and you’ll have to spend all your time and money holding onto a job that you might very well lose, since it takes only one fringe group or millionaire and a few thousand angry voters to tip the balance in your average congressional primary.”

Republicans Have No Other Ideas

Jonathan Chait: “The last time Republicans had control of government, they explained that cutting taxes would not get in the way of fiscal responsibility. Not only would tax cuts produce faster growth, they argued, they would also force Congress to restrain spending. Their strategy utterly failed. Not only did the tax cuts fail to produce higher growth, they also failed to encourage spending restraint…”

“And so there they are, back to the exact same policy they tried in 2001: Pass a huge tax cut and hope somehow it leads to cutting spending. That this policy is now being carried out by the same people who rose to power by denouncing the failure of the exact same policy last time tells you everything you need to know about the state of economic policy thought in the Republican Party now.”

What Will Bannon’s ‘War’ Actually Look Like?

BuzzFeed: “Steve Bannon has sucked up gobs of political oxygen with his budding operation to take down establishment Republicans in next year’s elections. But his political army, and the secretive financiers backing it, so far are just loosely organized upstarts in an ecosystem dominated by well-established groups.”

“As the GOP appears to be on the verge of another civil war and reports of Bannon’s 2018 plans dominate headlines, the big question Republicans are still trying to figure out is: Beyond a photo op, what does Bannon’s support actually mean for Michael Grimm and several other candidates he is backing?”

Asked that question directly, a close Bannon ally responded: “It’s actually still TBD.”

Not What Republicans Expected

Susan Glasser: “It’s tough to be a Republican in Washington these days. You’d think that winning the White House and both houses of Congress in an unexpected upset would have been good for the Party’s morale. But it has not turned out that way. In between beating up on Hillary Clinton and Mexicans and the ‘enemies of the people’ in the press corps, the President has taken on members of his own party with particular relish.”

“Back in January, the conventional wisdom had been that Trump, a Washington novice with a clear disregard for the details, would leave the governing to Congress, making Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell perhaps the capital’s most important player. Now, Trump and McConnell are barely on speaking terms, and tensions within the Party are proliferating.”