The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The suburbs, women, some working-class whites and now even a swamp creature abandon Trump

Vice President Pence and his chief of staff, Nick Ayers, who turned down an offer to be President Trump's chief of staff. (Zurab Kurtsikidze/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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President Harry S. Truman said if you want a friend in Washington,get a dog. President Trump, a germaphobe, has no interest in dogs, which means he is increasingly friendless, politically speaking.

Consider how utterly isolated he is. The House Republican majority? Gone. Support among the GOP Senate for a shutdown? Nope. Republicans willing to buy his deceit about Mohammed bin Salman? Practically none. Now even Nick Ayers, one of the most ambitious hired guns in the business — a man who has made millions from politics — won’t serve as his chief of staff. Any other viable COS candidates? None visible. Having Ayers turn him down with no Plan B may not have been the worst moment of Trump’s presidency, but it’s certainly one of the most humiliating. To be blunt, when someone of Ayers’s ilk figures out it’s not in his interest to take one of the most sought-after jobs (normally) in government, you know Trump has become toxic.

Trump doesn’t even have the affections of his entire white, working-class base. Ronald Brownstein dives into the poll numbers to find that the white, working class is no longer uniformly in Trump’s corner. Brownstein finds that evangelicals, whatever their education level and economic condition, remain staunchly in Trump’s camp (raising a real question as to what religious tenets justify their support for a lying, racist, xenophobic, cruel narcissist). However, “Democrats carried fully two-thirds of college-educated whites that are not evangelical Christians. That included not only a head-turning 71% of college educated white women who are not evangelicals but also 59% of the equivalent men. The shares that said they disapproved of Trump’s performance were even higher in both groups: 74% of the women and 63% of the men.”

Many white non-evangelical working-class voters are very conservative so there are “limits on the potential inroads for Democrats among working-class white voters, evangelical or not, particularly with Trump appealing . . . so directly to their cultural priorities and resentments.” However, Trump only got elected by turning out practically every last one of these voters. Without their full support and with the defection of college-educated women in the suburbs, Trump’s path to reelection has narrowed, even absent further Russia-related revelations. Moreover, by spending two years doing nothing but feeding red meat to his less-educated, white voters, he’s motivated Hispanics and young voters (at least in 2018) to greatly increase their turnout.

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What’s going to “save” Trump? It’s preposterous to think special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is going to give him a clean bill of health or that Trump is adept enough to make significant policy advances. (He seems to be doing his darnedest to shut down the government so passing anything more controversial or complex than a partial budget seems miles beyond his capabilities.) He’s not going to win people over with his achievements, in all likelihood.

With each staff shuffle, Trump’s staff and senior advisers get less professional and less willing to level with him. (Consider the change from Nikki Haley to Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations or from H.R. McMaster to John Bolton as national security adviser or from John F. Kelly to Someone-yet-to-be-dragooned.) The result likely will be even more missteps and episodes such as the COS search (i.e., instances of abject incompetence). As Trump “wins” less, those who admired him for his management acumen or who merely wanted to blow up the system may drift off as well. In sum, it’s very likely that Trump’s political isolation will get worse.

You might now understand why he has his daughter and son-in-law working for him. As incompetent and as consistently wrong (especially but not limited to personnel matters) as they may be, he cannot very well fire his relatives nor can they quit. But, gosh, if Jared Kushner winds up in legal hot water, Trump will be down to just Ivanka. He might want to reconsider his aversion to pets.

Read more:

Paul Waldman: Welcome to the Fox News presidency

Jennifer Rubin: Senate Republicans are responsible for the most unethical and incompetent administration ever

Dana Milbank: The perfect cover letter for aspiring White House chiefs of staff

Jennifer Rubin: The John Kelly myth