"Many in the party now say they are inching closer to an unavoidable, full-blown civil war."
In one of the strangest, and quickest, political concessions in recent memory, Donald Trump on Wednesday immediately accepted a Democratic proposal to increase the federal government's debt limit in exchange for the party’s support to pass relief for Hurricane Harvey survivors.
The deal left Republicans “stunned and irate” and produced an avalanche of criticism from open-revolt conservatives. “These are the moments that can derail President Trump’s presidency,” David Bozell, the president of For America, told The New York Times. “He is not Teflon.”
Even Democrats seemed amazed by Trump’s decision to give away the store and hand the party a clean victory.
“How did the relatively powerless Schumer and Pelosi get everything they wanted in a negotiation with a man whose party controls the House, the Senate and the White House?” asked Democratic strategist Paul Begala.
It’s often not possible to make sense of Trump’s erratic behavior. But it’s worth noting that voters who backed President Barack Obama in 2012 and then voted for Trump last year are increasingly expressing regret, according to one new poll. Perhaps this week's deal making is Trump’s attempt to address his weakening political position.
If it is, the move produced massive backlash among conservatives.
“The American people may think they elected a Republican government last November, but it’s increasingly hard to tell,” the Wall Street Journal’s right-wing editorial page announced on Thursday. “The Republican gang that can’t even shoot at each other straight,” the Journal bemoaned.
And this Wednesday headline from Breitbart: “Meet the Swamp: Donald Trump Punts September Agenda to December After Meeting with Congress.”
Separately, Breitbart chief and former Trump strategist Seven Bannon tells CBS’s Charlie Rose that “the guys on the far right, the guys on the conservative side, are not happy” with Trump’s apparent flip-flop on whether or not he’s prepared to deport hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants in coming months.
The roiling conservative unrest is producing strange alliances within the movement. For instance, on Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan forcefully denounced the Democrats’ debt limit proposal as “disgraceful” and "unworkable.”
Hours later, Trump agreed to the deal, which means Ryan, on this issue, is on the side of conservative activists who traditionally view him with suspicion.
But wait, here was Fox’s Lou Dobbs mocking Ryan and siding with Trump for cozying up to Democrats to get a debt deal done. In Dobbs’ unique telling, it was Ryan who wasn’t the true Republican:
So, uh, this happened pic.twitter.com/siVF5e2v7p
— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) September 7, 2017
And also on Fox News Wednesday night, Sean Hannity unloaded on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, mocking him as “Mr. 18 percent approval rating.”
So yes, the bullets are flying in all directions. For now, Democrats get to sit back and watch the GOP infighting. “Many in the party now say they are inching closer to an unavoidable, full-blown civil war,” the Times reports.