Trump Is Trying to Preemptively Hold the GOP in Line

His refusal to take responsibility for the midterm results isn’t just narcissism. It’s self preservation.

One of the key traits of a narcissist is unwillingness to accept blame or responsibility for anything. They take credit for anything good that happens and shuffle off the blame onto others for any misfortunes.

Apropos of that:

The White House is lowering expectations that Republicans will maintain control of the House in the midterm elections — while positioning President Donald Trump to claim credit for any seats his party gains in the Senate.

White House political director Bill Stepien wrote a three-page memo this week in which he outlined the political landscape confronting the GOP and bluntly warned that the party’s prospects for the House are “challenging.”

Also, this:

Politico, citing two people familiar with conversations with the president, reported that Trump views 2020 as “the real election” and doesn’t see the midterms as a referendum on himself, even though that is what he is telling crowds at campaign rallies.

“These are their elections … and if they screw it up, it’s not my fault,” Politico reported Trump as saying, citing one person with knowledge of these talks.

Last month in Missouri, Trump told the crowd “get out in 2018, because you’re voting for me.”

None of this should surprise us. When Democrats lost big in the 2010 midterms, President Obama acknowledged his role in what he called a “shellacking” for his party. Trump will do no such thing because it’s not in his malignant nature to do so.

But there’s probably more to it than mere egotism and spin. There’s also no small degree of political self-preservation at work.

If current polling and conventional wisdom are born out by election results, Democrats will do quite well in the House where both upwardly mobile suburban and Obama-Trump Rust Belt former blue districts are in play, while Republicans will do markedly better in the Senate which by happenstance is dominated by ruby red rural and conservative states.

The problem for Trump is that as Republicans head into the 2020 presidential cycle, it will be the former that determines the White House, the House and most of the Senate seats in play. As the Mueller probe reaches its inevitable conclusion, and assuming Democrats gain the House and launch the promised investigations into the president and his enablers’ corruption, there will be increasing pressure on Republicans to jettison the president to preserve the reputation and survival of their party–regardless of his popularity with their most loyal base voters.

Trump’s argument that he isn’t to blame for upcoming midterm losses may well be the reflexive response of a narcissist. But it’s certainly not designed to persuade Democrats and independents who despise him. It’s designed to hold nervous Republicans in line and convince them that he’s still the only one who can save them.

Time will tell if Republican politicians heed that line, or try to save themselves from going down with the Trump ship when all the malfeasance comes to light.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.