Feeling pretty good about the defeat of Ryancare…or Trumpcare…or the Gut-Health-Care-Coverage-for-24-Million-People Act? Hoping this is the start of a long-term slide for the president?
Such hope is helpful and such a slide would be super. But there’s still a respect in which we should watch what we wish for. As Andrew Sullivan speculates, a Trump slump could lead us into a wag the dog scenario:
A president hobbled domestically by his own party’s divisions and the opposition’s new energy may be tempted — Putin-like — to change the subject in a way that vaults him back to popularity. A foreign altercation from which he will not back down? A trade war? A smidge likelier, I’d say, is an over-the-top response to an inevitable jihadist terror attack in a major American city. A demagogue loses much of his power when he tries to wrestle complicated legislation through various political factions, in the way our gloriously inefficient Constitution requires. He regains it with rank fear, polarization, and a raw show of force. Heaven knows what the Constitution will look like once he’s finished.
What’s worse, check out this great Foreign Affairs article on how Trump could bluster his way into war with Iran, China or North Korea, even without any hidden political agenda in mind. Believe me – oh my, whom do I sound like? – the piece is well worth the small hassle of free registration with the magazine.
And what’s worst, when it comes to North Korea, any president really would face an array of horrible choices. Led by World’s Worst Dictator Kim Jong Un, the nation could have the capacity to launch a nuclear missile strike against the United States by 2023. So we could well face not the manipulation of a phony crisis but the exploitation of a real one.
And the rank fear, polarization and raw show of force that come with it.