BOSTON (CBS) – This morning I saw the following banner on the screen on CNN: “Source: Trump Loves Controversy over S***hole remark.”
Should he be loving it?
That depends on what the president wants out of his time in office.
If he wants to stir the pot like a common internet troll and get a kick out of the predictable reaction, then he’s right on track.
But if he wants to enhance or even retain Republican power and expand his clout, stuff like this is a disaster.
The latest Gallup poll has his job approval down to 37-percent, close to his all-time low, amid a time of economic boom, when any reasonably popular and disciplined president would be enjoying an uptick. Instead, his favorability and job-approval numbers lag well behind those of his predecessor, who never sank into the thirties despite his share of mistakes while governing through a severe recession.
The generic polling on whether voters are leaning toward Democrats or Republicans in the fall congressional elections show double-digit leads for the Democrats. And while it may well be true that the core Trump base eats up vulgar, racist talk like a box of Milk Duds at the movie theater, all indications are that stunts like this ruin his chance of growing that base and energize the anti-Trump resistance ahead of the crucial midterm elections.
Meanwhile, key Republican legislators are bailing out while the bailing is good. The chances of at least a Democratic takeover of the House and, conceivably, the Senate as well grow stronger with every self-inflicted wound.
That would mean gridlock on any major legislative initiatives, a steady diet of congressional investigations into Trump administration excesses and ethical lapses, and – should Special Counsel Mueller deliver the goods – an excellent chance of impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate trial.
Even if the GOP retains its thin Senate majority, it’s hard to imagine that beleaguered Republican Senators, having seen Trump squander their party’s hold on the House and dig his own hole ever deeper, wouldn’t prefer to get rid of him and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge.
Republicans and others who’d prefer to avoid these scenarios can only hope CNN’s source was wrong about Mr. Trump “loving” the mess he just created.
If the source was right, their looming problems take on even greater urgency.