Back in the early days of the Trump presidency, I figured his best strategy was to just pass some ordinary compromise legislation and then hail it as the greatest accomplishment in all of human history. His fans would believe him and that would be enough.
But then he held out and I started wondering if I had been wrong. Maybe he really did have actual goals in mind?
Just kidding. All I had to do was wait until it was election year for Trump to start acting like a used-car salesman desperately trying to close out the month. Suddenly he just wants to pass NAFTA 2.0 and he doesn’t really care what’s in it. He’s made a trade deal with China that’s almost laughably trivial. He’s bragging about NATO partners spending more even though they aren’t, really. He’s going to build four miles of border wall and pretend it’s four hundred. He traded off parental leave for his Space Force and he understands what his opponents don’t: it doesn’t matter if it’s an empty shell. Bragging about the Space Force makes good TV, and that’s all that matters.
Plus Trump has several legitimate wins: lots of conservative judges; moving the US embassy to Jerusalem; cutting the number of refugees we accept nearly to zero; killing the Iran treaty; getting us out of the Paris agreement; keeping trans people out of the military; withdrawal from TPP; and several other wins that are small but focused specifically on Trump constituencies. He may seem like a buffoon to us liberal types, but to conservatives he’s sure looking like a winner.
UPDATE: Why does the chart below show real per capita disposable income? It’s because I was oh-so-subtly making the point that Trump also has a good economy in his favor, and the best metric for measuring how people view the economy is real per capita disposable income. At least, I think so. I might be remembering that wrong, though. And I suppose I could have just said so instead of trying to be so cute about it. Oh well.