Wednesday was arguably the worst day of the Trump presidency — at least since he went to the CIA headquarters to insist his inauguration crowd was bigger than President Obama’s. His second Muslim travel ban was put on hold by another federal judge. His health-care bill is taking on water. In his Michigan appearance he did not even mention it. In Tennessee he seemed intent on getting it behind him. (The Post reported, “Though health-care reform was a major promise of his campaign and a signature pillar of the Republican Party’s platform for most of the last seven years, Trump made it clear Wednesday that he would much rather be dealing with the tax code than with health care, which he recently said ‘nobody knew’ could be so ‘complicated.'”)
And to top it off, a right-wing European politician — a man who shares Stephen K. Bannon’s right-wing nationalism — got clobbered in the Dutch elections:
The Dutch political establishment appeared Wednesday to fend off a challenge from anti-Muslim firebrand Geert Wilders, according to initial vote counts, a victory in a closely watched national election that heartened centrist leaders across Europe who are fearful of populist upsets in their own nations.
The result was embraced by other leaders inside and outside the Netherlands as a major blow to anti-immigrant populism, breaking a streak of disruption that started with the Brexit vote and continued with the election of Donald Trump, a skeptic of European integration. Instead, as the Netherlands’ famed tulip season gets underway, Prime Minister Mark Rutte will remain in office as he tries to form a coalition.
Maybe Trump and Trumpism in practice are a lot less impressive than voters believed in the campaign. After all, Trump’s career has been defined by hyping shoddy products (steaks, vodka, airlines, chocolate, etc.). Once the sales pitch ends and the product must stand on its own, the results can be underwhelming as Trump University students found out. In business Trump has always gone on to the next new thing, never acknowledging failure but never proving success.
Trump’s polling numbers in the latest Fox News poll reflect his lack of success to date. His approval is down to 43 percent (from 48 percent) and his disapproval is up to 51 percent (up from 47 percent). On the topics on which he has been focused the voters give him thumbs down: immigration (41/ 56 percent); health care (35/55 percent); Russia (33/55 percent); penalizing sanctuary cities (41/53 percent) and his travel ban (34/54 percent). Ironically, voters are most pleased with the economy — “By a 19-point margin, voters feel the economy is getting better rather than worse for their family (48-29 percent)” — for which Trump can claim very little credit. (He gets a slim plurality of support, 47-44 percent, for an economy he inherited.)
In short, nativistic nationalism does not function well in the real world. Bannon’s attack on the “administrative state,” his xenophobia and his pro-Russia outlook have led Trump into a serious of political dead-ends. The whole outsider, blow-up-the-system shtick is wearing thin. Having a novice in high office sounds good, but doesn’t work out well in practice. (“By a 51-38 percent margin, more voters than not feel that being a non-politician has hurt rather than helped Trump do his job as president.”)
Trump’s salvation may lie in abandoning his populist hooey and dropping his anti-Obamacare and anti-immigrant efforts. If he acted more like a plain-wrap Republican he might do a whole lot better. After all, he gets good marks for a sober Supreme Court pick (45-39) and for an economy improving without his doing much of anything. Staying off Twitter would help as well (16 percent approve, 32 percent want him t0 be more cautious and 50 percent disapprove).
Right now, Bannon’s priorities and philosophy seem to be losers. Trump loves to win, so he might consider jettisoning Bannon’s agenda and philosophy. Alternatively, he can stick with his current agenda and watch his poll numbers slide downhill.