Late Night Open Thread: Fear Was Trump’s Best Weapon Against the GOP, and He’s Losing That Weapon

Some of the congressional Republicans who last year might have feared a disparaging mention in the president’s Twitter feed are readily pushing back when his populist instincts run counter to long-held Republican stands.

Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats and wariness or outright criticism from Republicans. Likewise, his attempt to mediate on guns by embracing comprehensive background checks for buyers and raising the age limit for purchasing some rifles.

Earlier this year, his four main immigration proposals — including a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants — got only 39 votes in the Senate, with 14 Republicans voting against it…

That influence will be tested over the next eight months as states hold primaries for congressional elections in November that will decide control of the House and Senate. His approval rating with Republican voters remains strong — 80 percent or higher in most recent polls — even as his overall job approval is stuck below 40 percent.

Trump won the White House with an odds-defying, rule-breaking campaign. There are signs he and the GOP may not be able to replicate that…

Trump’s indecisiveness and shifting views has contributed to his diminished luster within the Republican Party by making GOP lawmakers wary of taking potentially risky votes for fear that the president will pull away political cover.

“On immigration and the gun stuff, sometimes you don’t know where he’s going to end up. You don’t know if it’ll be the Tuesday Trump or the Thursday Trump,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, an occasional critic of the president who is retiring after 2018. “People are concerned about that.”…

“Trump’s influence on Capitol Hill was significant last year, but in an election year the calculation for many members is different,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican strategist. “His endorsement is still valuable in most places, particularly in Republican primaries. There is a limit to what he can sell on Capitol Hill and he may find that limit on several difficult issues this year.”

Alex Conant, a former spokesman for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and a veteran campaign aide, said Trump succeeds when he shares goals of Republicans, such as on tax cuts and confirming judges, and fails when they differ.

“Trump and congressional Republicans have a very transactional relationship,” Conant said in an email. “Trump’s low poll numbers significantly weaken his influence on the Hill. A lot of congressional Republicans seeking tough re-elections are seeking to highlight policy disagreements with Trump.”…

As the 2018 midterms progress, we may need to add yet another category: Rooting for Injuries.

58 replies
  1. 1
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Just saw this summary for the March 2nd episode of Ben Shapiro’s shitty podcast:

    “Trump endures staffing problems, announces tariffs and tanks the markets, and says we should give drug dealers the death penalty. So, things are going just fine”

    The title of the episode is Goverance by Chaos. Even some of the true believers are catching on

  2. 2
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats


  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: Also: who? I have yet to see anyone say the tariffs are a good idea. Besides Ol’ Wilbur.

  4. 4

    OT: New David Byrne album (stream at link) is rlly good.

    If a brain in a jar could observe the world, make sense of it and churn it into a batch of songs, it would make the album American Utopia. This brilliantly analytical album is from David Byrne — an American treasure, an artistic thinker and creator responsible, in part, for the some of the most memorable and distinctive music of the past 40 years.


    American Utopia takes vignettes from day-to-day life, magnifies them and lays them out for us to rethink how we see the world. The song “Gasoline And Dirty Sheets” examines the proliferation of advertising, fast food and crazy consumption as seen through the eyes of a refugee. “Bullet” describes a killing from the perspective of bullet passing through a body. Byrne’s lyrics are matter-of-fact as he sings, “The bullet went into him / His skin did part in two / Skin that women had touched / The bullet passed on through.”

    But beyond the potent subjects, there’s plenty of funny stuff in these observations. The song “Every Day Is A Miracle” looks at the world not through human eyes but through the eyes of a chicken. “Now the chicken imagines a heaven / Full of roosters and plenty of corn / And God is a very old rooster / And eggs are like Jesus, his son.”

  5. 5

    @Yutsano: I think Bernie & The Berniecrats (awful band name) are pretty protectionist in general. Dignity of (white, American) labor and all that.

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: I thought Shapiro was #NeverTrump.

  6. 6
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    I’m so glad Bernie seems to have been damaged by the Russia scandal. Couldn’t have happens to a nicer guy.

    I never watched or read much of Shapiro. What I did read seemed overly critical of Dems and defensive of the GOP and by extension, Trump.

  7. 7
    ThresherK says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Shapiro is neverTrump enough that my duller Berniecrats have reposted his crap approvingly.

  8. 8
    Mike J says:

    @Yutsano: It’s conceivable that there might be time when tariffs are a good idea, but it’s generally after going the WTO and getting an anti-dumping ruling. It’s never on the spur of the moment without telling any of the people who have to make it happen.

  9. 9
    Mike J says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷:

    I’m so glad Bernie seems to have been damaged by the Russia scandal. Couldn’t have happens to a nicer guy.

    Maryland passed a bill this week targeted at Trump. Can’t get on the ballot without releasing 5 years of tax returns. Problem is, Trump is never gonna carry Maryland anyway. Can you think of a Democrat who might put 10 EVs in danger?

  10. 10

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: @ThresherK: Shapiro is the Cool Kid’s Conservative (replace C’s with K’s as you see fit) right now.

  11. 11
    Aleta says:

    with an odds-defying, rule- law-breaking campaign. There are signs he and the GOP may not be able to replicate that

    The law breaking will be replicated.

  12. 12
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Mike J:
    Bernie? Tim Ryan?

  13. 13
    Aleta says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    Thanks! You probably saw this (with a choir, NYC):
    Or were the one who told me about it.

  14. 14
    Doug R says:

    I predict when the latest weekend’s shenanigans soaks in, trump will hit a new low. Of course it’ll only be a point or two lower than his previous record, but we are entering the spiral graph time

  15. 15

    @Aleta: I’ve seen it linked but haven’t watched it yet!

    ETA this new album is so good

  16. 16

    @Major Major Major Major:

    The song “Every Day Is A Miracle” looks at the world not through human eyes but through the eyes of a chicken.

    He must have seen this video.

  17. 17
    patrick II says:

    @Doug R:

    I disagree. When something that actually affects them, like the economy going down, or (god forbid) he does something outrageous like giving North Korea a “bloody nose” and a larger war breaks out, the right wing media will keep their tribe in line.

  18. 18

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: That reminds me of a random fact. The German name for the movie ‘Chicken Run’ is ‘Hennen Rennen’, which is just such a better title.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think the “cheers” were more like, Thanks for ensuring a blue wave, dumbass!

  20. 20
    magurakurin says:

    @Yutsano: Sherrod Brown. And I don’t know why either? fuck. And no judgement on whether the tariffs are good or bad, but the Democrats shouldn’t be supporting Trump in anything. Fuck it. Full on opposition. And by all accounts the tariffs proposed are poorly thought out and bad, so Brown is an idiot for falling in behind them.

  21. 21
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats

    Huhwhat? (Or as Beowulf would say, hwæt?) Please to be citing actual Democrats, as opposed to followers of some pig.

    ETA: just saw magurakurin’s reference to Sherrod Brown. Yeah, what the hell? I know he’s pandering to (mostly former) steelworkers in his state, but why bother? Makes him sound stupid and won’t help anyway.

  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: Speaking of blue waves maybe we should be looking at Texas harder.

    @magurakurin: Okay Whisky Tango Foxtrot Sherrod? Does he think this will help in Ohio or something?

  23. 23
    magurakurin says:

    Also Ron Wyden, Bob Casey and Tim Ryan. But they mainly want action against China. This proposal has The EU, Canada and Mexico drawing swords. It’s like Putin drew up the proposal himself.
    Reuters article, Dem support of tariffs.

  24. 24
    magurakurin says:

    @Yutsano: Yes, that’s more or less what he said, that it will help steel workers in Ohio. The trouble is, there aren’t actually very many steel workers at all, but there a lot of workers in industries that use steel. And even if the tariffs were a net benefit in jobs, starting a trade with the EU and Canada is just fucking senseless. We are so fucked. The left is so fucking weak in America.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:


    Is there an actual quote from Brown? God knows that we’ve seen plenty of claims of “Democrat supports X” only to have the quote show the opposite, or at best something like, If Trump actually does something, that might be okay.

  26. 26
    magurakurin says:


    “This welcome action is long overdue for shuttered steel plants across Ohio and steelworkers who live in fear that their jobs will be the next victims of Chinese cheating,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, a liberal and populist Democrat from Ohio.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:


    Is that his whole statement? Because there’s some weird phrasing in that article, like:

    Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who often criticizes Trump for one thing or another, issued a statement saying he was pleased Trump“recognizes the importance of addressing these challenges, and finally intends to take action.”

    Seriously, that bolded part is what the article says. In a supposedly professional news piece.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m just saying, I remember the Bush years well when internet liberals would get all riled up about what Democrats said in support of Bush until we finally figured out that the MSM was cherry-picking the quotes. I will maintain my skepticism until the MSM does better.

  29. 29
    Sab says:

    @Yutsano: Sherrod Brown has been pretty consistent on this forever.

  30. 30
    magurakurin says:


    “The American steel industry has been under pressure for decades from unfairly traded products from China and elsewhere, as well as global overcapacity. I am pleased that the President recognizes the importance of addressing these challenges and finally intends to take action,” Wyden said. “Until the details are known, however, it is too soon to tell whether the measures announced today will end China’s overcapacity and bring back good paying American jobs or simply provide a short-term boost to corporate profits.”

    wyden’s statement

    I would rather that Ron Wyden make a statement about Trump’s comment that making himself president for life was something they “make look at doing in the future.”
    I mean, what in the holy fuck? over.

  31. 31
    magurakurin says:

    @Sab: maybe so, but Trump just made a not in jest remark about making himself president for life. The levels of delusion that may exist regarding the possibility of such a thing aside, no Democrat should work with this president now on anything. There is no level on which such a comment in acceptable. WTAF?

  32. 32

    Some Democrats, especially the leftier/white-populist ones, like steel tariffs. Like, actually believe in them! It’s a thing. Not everybody is right all the time, even smart people.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:


    So, basically, Trump happened to make a statement about Brown’s longtime pet project. That makes more sense.


    As I suspected, Wyden’s full statement is not exactly a full-throated endorsement of Trump’s plan. Steel tariffs are something that are important in Oregon, so they’re important to Wyden. Like it or not, ignoring what your constituents think is an important issue is a good way to lose your Senate seat.

    As far as Trump’s statement about being president for life, I think he was making a stupid joke, so it’s really not even worth denouncing from a senator’s POV. As someone else said today, I’m not too worried — he’s probably going to be president “for life” anyway given that he’s one Big Mac away from a massive coronary and I doubt he makes it to 2020. YMMV, of course.

  34. 34
    magurakurin says:

    @Mnemosyne: let’s hope you are right about the Big Mac.

  35. 35


    I think he was making a stupid joke

    That is what conservatives will say, “You libtards have no sense of humor…”; however Trump has repeatably shown that he possesses no sense of humor.

  36. 36

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I also think it’s a stupid joke and/or his automatic bullshit circuit firing randomly, and should go in the growing pile of stupid shit he says that it’s best to ignore. ETA even while acknowledging to ourselves that it’s insane and completely out of line

  37. 37
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think it’s along the same lines as W’s stupid things would be easier if I were a dictator remark — something in the form of a joke that is delivered by someone who’s terrible at jokes. Trump attempts jokes fairly often, but they fall flat because he doesn’t actually understand humor.

  38. 38
    Ruckus says:

    Trump is a conservative, of that there is no question or quibble. The reason he is getting any support is that the conservative positions really are the ones that Trump holds. Sure he’s an idiot and spouts off, like on this tariff thing, but notice who wants this, rich fuckers like idiot commerce secretary Ross. This is conservative “thinking.” It has been thus since the founding of the country. It boils down to give everything to the rich and screw everyone else. Which works out to “If you aren’t corrupt enough to be able to get rich enough to get away with most any crime, you aren’t trying hard enough.” They think everyone is as cut throat as them and hates everyone else as much as they do and so deserves nothing. We are just seeing this clearly because Trump is also an incompetent ass who has no idea when to lie and when to shut the hell up. His conservative predecessors in politics have been better at bullshit than him and have the media on their side and that’s why while if you followed politics you would know but if you didn’t follow along you might not. But it is very obvious now, what with the Incompetent Bigot in Charge. That’s what is waking up the country. Can we take it back from the conservative destroyers? Or will we fail and they will run it into oblivion? We should be able if we work at it.

  39. 39
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Southern Californians know: climate change is real, it is deadly and it is here A quick worthwhile read for one person’s perspective.

  40. 40

    So, if you search hard enough, you can find half a dozen Democrats who like tariffs, and an immigration bill that only resembled Trump’s if you didn’t read it was shot down by Republicans.

    Let me rephrase this article: “Even with my head stuck up my ass, I’m finally noticing Trump is not consistent.”

  41. 41

    @OzarkHillbilly: Having lived in California for over half a century, we’ve had the combination of all those things(wet years, dry years, fires and floods). While it may seem insignificant, the one change that I’ve noticed that has changed is that we get the monsoonal flow where I don’t remember it growing up. The weather folk talk about it like it’s a normal occurrence, but I never remember it being humid in the summer here before about 1985.

  42. 42
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I refuse to ignore it because for eight years, the Republicans never, NEVER, gave any allowance for nuance in a single word that came out of Barack Obama’s mouth. If Obama had made that same “joke” verbatim and then immediately followed it up with “haha, just kidding,” it would still have resulted in the entire GOP political and media apparatus going berserk at his presumption.

  43. 43
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    “Engaging” is the best euphemism I have heard yet for “his word is worthless”.

  44. 44
    Gvg says:

    Quite a few rank and file democratic voters are in favor of tariffs and have been for decades. My mom for one. They formed the opinion wish decades ago as Japan and then other Asian countries deliberately did things to gain monopolies by destroying American companies. Subsidies, not allowing imports, dumping, currency manipulation, etc. each country that did it had immitators after and mostly didn’t keep the monopoly but it was unfair and it did cause resentment here. Most people don’t understand why we couldn’t retaliate. Effective retaliation was always difficult or impossible and would cost more than we could gain because the world economics are just too complicated is not a satisfying answer and people feel what they feel.
    Trumps “joke” about President for life is kind of falling flat because everybody already knew he thought like that and luckily he is already so unpopular that he is unlikely to be reelected even once.

  45. 45

    @Mnemosyne: …which, I’d posit, is because he hasn’t got any empathy. There’s just a void where his metaphorical heart should be. People devoid of empathy have serious deficits of humour as well.

    We saw his attempts at humour at the Al Smith dinner in 2016. They were arguably even more of a train wreck than his presidency. The conservative Catholic audience actually booed him. And they even clarified that they were actually booing him.

  46. 46

    Also, are we sure that Trump’s best weapons weren’t fear and surprise? Fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency. Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope Putin, and nice red uniforms… oh, damn! I’ll come in again.

    (Cardinal Ximinez libel, I know.)

  47. 47
    Ken says:

    @Sm*t Cl*de: I give it a 20% chance of being the American Dialect Society’s word of the year for 2018.

  48. 48

    @Sm*t Cl*de: Re “engaging”: I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

  49. 49
    Yellowdog says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: Which Democrats? I’ve seen nothing supporting this claim.

  50. 50
    JGabriel says:

    Sahil Kapur via Anne Laurie @ Top:

    Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats …

    Please specify. I don’t know of any Democrats cheering this.

  51. 51
    Dnfree says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Baka Amerikahito) 🗳 🌷: I wondered the same thing—was this just a lazy knee-jerk comment? Republicans are appalled, so therefore Democrats must be delighted? I haven’t seen any Democrats supporting this tariff move.

  52. 52
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:


    I would rather that Ron Wyden make a statement about Trump’s comment…

    Come on, give Senator Wyden some credit… he often criticizes Trump. For one thing or another!

  53. 53
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Yellowdog: @JGabriel: @Dnfree:
    Not sure if “cheering” the move is how I’d describe it, but yes several Democratic Senators support these tariffs.

    See links in magurakurin’s comments #23 and #30 above.

  54. 54
    chopper says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    and some of these people represent a constituency that’s heavily employed by the steel/aluminum industry.

  55. 55
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Major Major Major Major: There are a lot of Democrats with a legitimate suspicion of free trade of the sort that just creates a global race to the bottom to see who can exploit workers and despoil the environment the most egregiously. Of course the solution to that is not tariffs conceived in a fit of pique, it’s trade agreements with better labor and environmental standards.

  56. 56
    Miss Bianca says:

    Trump’s announcement Thursday of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum was greeted by cheers from Democrats

    uhh…not *this* Democrat. Not any Democrat I know. The only “cheers” I’ve heard from anyone about any of Trump’s tariff proposals has been from a Republican – and that was the solar panel stuff. Even tho’ it’s going to make the solar installation on the property she’s looking at go up substantially.

  57. 57
    Miss Bianca says:

    @magurakurin: *reads article* Oh, fuck me sideways. Some of us Democrats are dumber than I thought.

  58. 58
    Jay C says:


    Well, I notice Sen. Wyden’s “endorsement” of the tariff proposal is – ummmm, slightly “nuanced”: basically:
    I’ll support the tariffs if they turn out OK, if not “ill oppose them“: so statesmanlike….

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