Quick Takes: Media is Determined to Find Their Trump Pivot

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* After Trump reached a deal with Democrats that raised the debt ceiling, avoided a government shutdown and provided hurricane relief, several major media outlets ran stories similar to this one by Peter Baker in the New York Times titled, “Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule.” Wow, that sounds big!

President Trump demonstrated this past week that he still imagines himself a solitary cowboy as he abandoned Republican congressional leaders to forge a short-term fiscal deal with Democrats. Although elected as a Republican last year, Mr. Trump has shown in the nearly eight months in office that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War.

* Josh Marshall wrote the response so I didn’t have to.

There haven’t even been any deals! The ‘deal’ people are talking about is a minor procedural accommodation, an agreement not to go through a round of legislative hostage taking tied mainly to the need to increase the debt-limit – something that should be abolished altogether. It is important to note how minuscule this accommodation really is…

In any case, the real issue is that there is no issue of ideology or policy at stake. None. It accomplished Trump’s goal of beating up congressional Republicans at no real cost – at least no cost to his supporters image of him as a far-right revanchist President. If anything it helps since the GOP congressional party or ‘the establishment’ was always Trump’s enemy and his supporters’ in the first place.

* To put just one exclamation point on that notion of Trump being a far-right revanchist president, there’s this:

Unlike Romney, Trump isn’t even interested in having a “binder full of women.”

* I didn’t watch the 60 Minutes Bannon interview. But based on what I’ve read about it, he seems to have focused on the scores he wants to settle with people like Jared Kushner and Mitch McConnell. Sad! This, however, could turn out to be interesting.

President Donald Trump’s closest allies are planning a slate of primary challenges against Republican senators, potentially undermining the party’s prospects in 2018 and further inflaming tensions between GOP leaders and the White House.

The effort is being led by Steve Bannon, Trump’s bomb-throwing former chief strategist, who is launching an all-out war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Bannon has begun holding private meetings with insurgent challengers, vowing his support. He’s coordinating with conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer, who is prepared to pour millions of dollars into attacks on GOP incumbents.

For more on that story, read Greg Sargent’s tongue-in-cheek questions about what platform these Bannon candidates will run on.

* It sure looks like moderate Republicans are starting to jump ship.

Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) is leaving Congress at the end of his term, he announced Monday morning, making him the third swing-district House Republican to declare his retirement in the past week alone…

Trott is already the fourth Republican from a competitive district to announce he’ll retire this year, and the third in just a week. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced earlier this year that she was done with Congress, and last week moderate Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) announced their retirements as well.

* Jonathan Chait nailed something essential about our current political situation that goes to the heart of the persistent theme of bothsiderism.

…whatever the very real flaws in the American political and electoral system, it is simply impossible to design any kind of a system that can withstand a stress test like a major party captured by a faction as radical as the conservative movement. Its absence of limiting principles to its ideology, indifference to empirical evidence, and inability to concede failings of its dogma lead to an endless succession of failures explained away to the base as faintheartedness.

The doom loop Drutman describes is, in reality, both sides responding to the phenomenon of Republican extremism. Republicans are sealed off in a bubble of paranoia and rage, and Democrats are sealed off from that bubble. Democrats fear Republican government because it is dangerous and extreme. Republicans fear Democratic government because they are dangerous and extreme.

* Finally, Mavis Staples is proving that relevance has nothing to do with age. She is about to release a new album titled, “If All I Was Was Black.”

“We’re not loving one another the way we should,” she says in a press release announcing the album. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.”

Here’s the title track:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.