For the Trump administration, the absence of disaster usually has to suffice as good news. Well, I wouldn’t say President Trump is on a roll, but he has had several good days.
Specifically, the outcome of Tuesday’s Senate primaries made it more likely that the GOP will retain control of the Senate, the clean break with the Iran deal can be considered a bold display of resolve, and two judges have fanned back special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — perhaps curbing his overreach. Progress toward an agreement with North Korea seems to be proceeding quickly. In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo secured the release of three Americans on Wednesday who had been held prisoner, and President Trump announced he will meet with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. Regarding North Korea, Jeff Greenfield wrote in a Politico piece titled “Thinking the Unthinkable: What if Trump Succeeds?” last week that recognizing all of Trump’s flaws provides “all the more reason to retain a sense of perspective; to be able to consider seriously the proposition that this misbegotten president has somehow achieved an honest-to-God diplomatic success.”
Then there are the recent polls from Reuters-Ipsos, Gallup, CBS and CNN which show that the president’s job approval is ticking up. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low; according to the National Federation of Independent Business, not only are record levels of small businesses reporting profit growth, but also the Small Business Optimism Index continues to sustain record-high levels. Americans have confidence in Trump’s handling of the economy. And at least for the time being, even the generic ballot is moving in Trump’s favor.
In addition, a few of the president’s critics are stumbling. The mainstream media did themselves real harm with the debacle of this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, and Trump tormentor New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was forced to resign following allegations of repeated abuse of multiple women.
With that said, Trump will never experience a period of tranquility. There will always be shrapnel flying in the form of wild tweets, inexplicable lies, distracting odd-ball characters, off-message surrogates and the like. But for all the misfires within the Cabinet, the staff shake-ups, the tweets and the media obsessions, the elements of a truly consequential presidency are visible around the edges. Trump is making his mark diplomatically, and the economy in the United States has solidified and is turning toward real growth. As mainstream Republican voters become used to — or at least numb to — Trump’s crudeness and behavior, they are willing to see progress as it presents itself. Yet the Trump presidency could be an exploding cigar. Just as you begin to settle in and get used to it, the whole thing could blow apart.
To state the obvious, Trump is his own worst enemy — and he won’t change. Feckless Democrats won’t bring him down, Republicans have acquiesced, much of the media has become annoying background noise, and Mueller doesn’t seem to have a silver bullet. Only Trump can destroy Trump.