Littwin: It’s time for Democrats to act like the opposition party

I hate to be a downer, but even when Donald Trump does the right thing, he does the wrong thing.

We must get used to this. This is not just TrumpWorld anymore. It’s our world. And it will be  ours for at least another four years.

And so a Trump adviser goes on Morning Joe — my God, we now get our news from Joe Scarborough — to say that Trump will ignore yet another campaign promise. In this one, Trump breaks the hearts of the “lock her up” crowd by saying he won’t pursue a criminal investigation of apparently-no-longer-quite-so-crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s funny and it’s not funny when Kellyanne Conway says Trump wants to give Clinton a chance to heal (as opposed to, say, Mitt Romney, whom Trump has fully brought to heel, but that’s another story).

In America when it’s great, presidents don’t decide which people to prosecute, but it’s no surprise that this little nuance escapes Trump, who had pledged in a debate to instruct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton — in other words, threatening, in banana republic style, to lock up his opponent.

It was wrong then. It’s wrong now. But I’m certain prospective attorney general Jeff Sessions, who was a leader in the lock-her-up camp, will happily go along.

The Sessions nomination is funny, too, in a funny/ironic kind of way. Sessions, who was turned down for a federal judgeship by a Republican Senate in 1986 for problems with his racist past, is now on the verge of being confirmed by a Republican Senate to be, among things, leader of the department that identifies and prosecutes civil rights violations. This is, of course, a travesty and a terribly wrong turn in that long arc of justice we’re always hearing about. And yet, before Sessions’ nomination even comes to a vote, Trump has already cut him off at the knees. Do white knees matter?

And there we are. The big question now for those in the anti-Trump or neverTrump camp is what to do. Poking fun at Trump’s pre-pardon pardon is one answer, but probably not the answer.

But what is?

Some Democrats hope to trap Trump by calling his bluff on Trump’s populist-inspired infrastructure gambit. Any bets on how this will work? You’ve seen Chuck Schumer lean this way, and, briefly, even Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Trump’s infrastructure plan is, of course, not populist at all and a boon for developers.  But what if Trump, the deal-maker, comes up with a compromise bill — real infrastructure that government pays for — that Democrats can accept?

Should they accept it, even if it would help Trump in the mid-terms, even if it would help him get re-elected?

Or should they refuse, on principle, to deal with a bigoted, misogynist demagogue who appoints alt-right icon Steve Bannon to be his White House adviser, who condemns the cast of “Hamilton” for the mildest form of free speech but has nothing to say of the Neo-Nazis who gathered in Washington to celebrate Trump’s victory, who seems to be conducting his private business while in discussion with world leaders, whose foundation just apparently admitted to so-called “self-dealing,” whose family involvement is making up whole new areas of conflict-of-interest law?

If the Trump critics do refuse to go along with Trump at all, how do they separate that from McConnell-style obstructionism? Yes, McConnell was obstructing your normal mainstream liberal president whereas liberals would be obstructing the most dangerous person ever elected president, but can anyone effectively make that distinction? Maybe the real danger here is in calling out Trump too soon. If Trump’s critics are seen as overreacting, the argument goes, why would anyone believe them when the time to act inevitably arrives?

Ezra Klein makes an interesting argument in Vox. Given that Clinton will probably win the popular vote by as many as 2.5 million votes — by nearly as many as Barack Obama beat Romney — and that Democrats outpolled Republicans in Senate races even though GOP will hold a likely 52-48 lead, Democrats should act not as a minority, but as the opposition party. They should remind everyone, he writes, that Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven elections and therefore must be heard.

But as Trump wished he had said, winning is everything. Democrats and the neverTrumpists had 18 months to make Klein’s argument, and yet the undemocratically-inclined Trump has clearly won by the standards we’ve chosen with the undemocratically-inclined Electoral College.

And so, the next argument – actually, concern – is that the press will normalize Trump as just another, if slightly weirder, version of a president. Actually, that is a sure bet. Cable TV news is in search of one thing — and it’s not truth. We’ve already seen Trump call in the TV execs and anchors and lecture them, off the record, on being nicer. Trump mouthpieces like Drudge and the New York Post had the TV execs basically cowering.

The very next day, Trump calls off a scheduled meeting with the “failing” New York Times, saying that the Times wanted to change the terms under which they’d meet. This was apparently a lie, and when the Times called out the lie, the meeting was soon back on, and there would be on-the-record questions, in which Trump says he’s against alt-righters (even if he hires them) and that, legally, presidents can’t have conflicts of interest (which may, in fact, arguably be true).

You’d like to think that could be the start of a trend. And at least he’s meeting with some of the press. Trump, who has yet to hold a post-election news conference, decided instead to discuss his appointments and his plans for his first 100 days in a 2 1/2-minute YouTube post. Yes, really. He didn’t mention the wall. He didn’t mention immigration. He didn’t mention Obamacare. He didn’t mention a Muslim registry or whatever it would be. He didn’t mention a lot of things, like checking whether 1984 is still on your nearby library’s shelves. But, mostly, he didn’t take questions because, it seems, he doesn’t think he has to.

And then there’s this: Because we’re America, and we can’t  believe that we would elect someone quite like Trump, we’re assuming that Trump is not actually the Trump we see on TV. And so his favorables are actually starting to climb even as the Trumpian disaster begins to make itself ever more clear. It’s little wonder that no one has any idea what to do next.

Photo credit: Navin75, Creative Commons, Flickr


  1. Well if Trump is looking for someone to prosecute Ms. Clinton, I hear that Ken Star might be looking for a job.

  2. Clown car clobbers Clinton!

    It’s been more than two weeks since Donald J. Trump became the president-elect and soon-to-be 45th President of the United States and Mr. Littwin has yet to offer his expert opinion on how Mrs. Clinton was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Mr. Littwin once wrote an entire column on an eye-roll. You could look it up. So you’d think he would devote at least as much space to analyzing a presidential election that some have called the greatest upset in the history of American politics.

    Consider this:

    – President-elect Trump had never held an elected office.

    – President-elect Trump had record breaking unfavorable ratings that were even higher than Mrs. Clinton’s.

    – President-elect Trump had been called the loser of all three presidential debates by every pundit in the universe.

    – President-elect Trump had been characterized by Mr. Littwin as “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.”

    – President-elect Trump had been—-according to some on the left—-riding around in a clown car.

    So how then did Donald J. Trump win?

    We know how Mr. Littwin characterized President-elect Trump but how would he characterize those Americans who voted for him?

    We know how President-elect Trump’s supporters were characterized by Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing and The Newsroom:

    “And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads everywhere.”

    Does Mr. Littwin agree with Mr. Sorkin or would he describe President-elect Trump’s voters differently?

    And what happened to Mrs. Clinton’s “blue wall” of states? The impenetrable obstacle that would deny President-elect Trump a path to victory?

    And while we wait patiently, Mr. Littwin has apparently moved on to more pressing matters like, well, advising Congressional Democrats how to deal with President-elect Trump and, amazingly, he seems to suggest that they become the new Party of No.

    Mr. Littwin asks “should (Congressional Democrats) refuse, on principle, to deal with (President-elect Trump).”

    Here is Mr. Littwin heaping scorn on Rep. Boehner in 2010:

    “During the last health care debate, it looked like House Minority Leader John Boehner had found a Republican voice, turning the party of no into the party of hell no.”

    And that is just a small sampling of how Mr. Littwin used the “Party of No” description against Republicans.

    Now, amazingly, he is suggesting Democrats take on the very same role!

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    Mr. Littwin also appears to be expanding his scope of scorn to include the Electoral college although he didn’t mention his displeasure with the Electoral college in April when he reported this:

    “The real question now is which scenario is worse for Republicans — Trump running as their nominee and getting clobbered in November (Larry Sabato predicts a 347-191 Electoral college landslide for Clinton) or Trump not running in November as the GOP nominee and taking his millions of disaffected Trumpistas home with him so that Republicans get clobbered in November.”

    Needless to say, but I will anyway, neither of Mr. Littwin’s Republican doomsday scenarios came true which, for him is pretty much par for the course and as for Mr. Sabato, not only did his Clinton landslide fail to materialize here is how Mr. Sabato analyzed the presidential election on October 20, 2016, a mere 19 days ahead of the vote:

    ‘The mist is lifting from the map of the United States and the moment of clarity for the 2016 general election campaign has arrived. Yes, there is still uncertainty about some states in the Electoral College. But nearly all of it comes in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 or a couple of Barack Obama states that Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to win.

    With less than three weeks to go, and all of the debates blessedly in the rearview mirror, Clinton is in a commanding position in the contest to become the 45th president.

    Our conclusion is simple. As we reassess our Electoral College ratings, we don’t think any new states are moving toward Trump at this point, and there are some surprising conservative places where he is registering very thin, soft support.”

    Yes, he actually said that. Evidently, the mist never lifted. Not only was his conclusion simple it was simply wrong!


    “There’s abundant bitterness everywhere over this election because nearly everyone expected Hillary Clinton to win it. It was her moral right, after all. The “legacy” media threw away all its long-held traditions of objectivity and joined the Democratic campaign not as observers but as participants” – Washington Times

    “Hey Democrats, want help to rally the country around Donald Trump? Here’s a great idea: Have a crowd of wealthy, out-of-touch Manhattan liberals (who can afford $849 tickets to “Hamilton”) boo Vice President-elect Mike Pence while the cast of the Broadway show lectures him on diversity.” – Washington Post

    “It’s no secret that reporters were rooting for Hillary Clinton. All that was missing were buttons on their coats saying, “I’m with her.” As Will Rahn nicely put it on the CBS News website: “Had Hillary Clinton won, there’d be a winking ‘we did it’ feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.”

    The media elite thought she was right when she said half of Trump supporters belonged in a basket of deplorables. They thought if his minions weren’t racist or sexist, they were, you know, not too smart.

    So, on Election Day, voters fed up with the arrogance of the elites didn’t only reject Hillary Clinton — or Barack Obama and his legacy, or big swatches of liberal culture in general — they also rejected the liberal media elite, the ones who thought they were smarter and better than ordinary Americans.

    I was a correspondent at CBS News for 28 years. So I speak with some credibility, I think, when I say that too many journalists are smug. And during this recent campaign, they dismissed the angst of ordinary Americans who they never really liked or respected anyway. And on Election Day, ordinary Americans rejected them, the journalists who didn’t see the tsunami coming. –

    “Back in May, the longtime chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party sent a private memo to leaders in Hillary Clinton’s campaign warning that she was in grave danger of losing not just Ohio but also Pennsylvania and Michigan unless she quickly re-tooled her message on trade. His advice went unheeded.

    The local chairman feels very strongly now that Clinton could have won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan if she had just kept her eye on economic issues and not gotten distracted by the culture wars.

    “Look, I’m as progressive as anybody, okay? But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job,” he complained.“‘Stronger together’ doesn’t get anyone a job.” “- Washington Post

    “And ‘optimistic’ might be an understatement. According to the latest report, in some cases, Americans are the most hopeful they have been in more than a decade. For the first time since 2006, 37 percent of households said they expect their personal finances to improve in 2017. Also hitting decade highs: real income expectations, as wage growth continues to gain strength in a broadening swath of the economy.” –

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2016

  3. Nice rant. Maybe a black racist, Sharia loving Mulsim as the head of the DNC can pull the party back from its recent faceplant with white working class voters. But I wouldn’t be my Koran on it.

  4. The reason for the poorest counties still being under republican leaders is that they probably aren’t real conservative republicans, and/or it’s because their hands are tied by the liberal democratic federal government regulations and policies. Simply explained.

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