Trump Has a Strategy for the Midterms

I have never been one to credit Donald Trump with any kind of strategy. It seems to me that he is nothing more than a walking id with no impulse control. But lately we’ve seen a couple of examples where, at some basic level, he has a plan in mind.

First of all came Leslie Stahl’s recounting of what the president said when she asked him why he always attacks the media. Trump said that he does it to discredit the media so that when they write negative stories about him, no one will believe them.

Then came this report on why he has been pounding on #spygate:

Trump has told confidants in recent days that the revelation of an informant was potential evidence that the upper echelon of federal law enforcement has conspired against him, according to three people familiar with his recent conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly. Trump told one ally this week that he wanted “to brand” the informant a “spy,” believing the more nefarious term would resonate more in the media and with the public.

I’m pretty sure that any additional examples would confirm the fact that his political strategy is actually nothing more than a media strategy. Taking that into consideration, it is beginning to be clear that Trump has a strategy for the upcoming midterm elections. It all comes down to something we’ve grown familiar with by now: offend liberals in order to stir up his xenophobic base.

While the president is spending a lot of his time attempting to undermine the Mueller investigation because his presidency is on the line, he knows that in order for that to work, he has to maintain Republican control of Congress. So in addition to continuing his “witch hunt” theme, he is throwing out some ugly divisive statements. For example, last week he said that immigrants aren’t people, they’re animals.

The White House then claimed that he was talking about MS-13 gang members (which he didn’t say) and when there was push-back on that, critics were accused of supporting MS-13.

Today, when Trump was asked about the NFL decision to require players on the field to stand for the national anthem, he suggested that “maybe” people who don’t do that shouldn’t be in the country.

Just in case it wasn’t already clear, he’s reminding all of us that we have a racist authoritarian president. That triggers rage from liberals at the same time that it fires up his base with some tasty red meat.

Prepare yourself because this is just the tip of the iceberg we’ll be seeing over the next few months. Pundits have been suggesting that Republicans could suffer from an enthusiasm gap this November. While Trump is certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he’s a master at knowing how to solve that problem.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.