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Outsiders vs. Insiders: It’s long past time Republicans called a ‘Players Only’ meeting

Heading out of the Labor Day weekend, a quick survey of the American political landscape reveals a deeply divided country struggling with its current identity as well as how to treat its distant past.

Americans certainly don’t appear to agree on much these days – or at least the opposing sides typically demarcated by party affiliation that is. But with President Donald Trump in the White House there are also a good many Republicans who don’t consider themselves on either side, not finding a home with the increasingly leftist-reactionary Democrats and still feeling resentful towards the vast majority of conservatives and Players only meetingRepublicans for electing (and still backing) the non-traditional, non-“presidential” outsider Trump to lead the party and nation.

Not even the tragic events along the Texas coast in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Harvey pulled the feuding factions together. Trump’s response to the crisis drew more than its fair share of criticism from his media and political enemies; some said the president was too involved, others complained he didn’t do enough.

Amidst all the turmoil emerges the less-than-unifying figure of 2016 Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The former first lady and Obama secretary of state is launching a tour to promote her new book this month. Will those dissatisfied with Trump rush to buy it?

Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner reported, “Clinton unveiled … the details of her upcoming tour to promote What Happened, a book sharing her thoughts about why she lost the 2016 election. The tour will take her from Washington, D.C., where she is slated to hold her first event on Sept. 18, through several of the states she unexpectedly lost to Trump and wrap up in Vancouver, Canada on Dec. 13…

“The first glimpse of Clinton's new book featured a snippet from her description of the second presidential debate last year, during which both candidates stood and moved around a stage for much of the event. Clinton said her ‘skin crawled’ when Trump, whom she called a ‘creep,’ stood near her.

“The excerpt stoked anticipation for What Happened and led to speculation about how much of the book will focus on Trump's campaign-era antics rather than the Clinton campaign's own mistakes.”

I confess, I chuckled when I read this. Crooked Hillary thinks Donald Trump is a creep? Does she experience the same skin-crawling sensation whenever her serial philandering husband bubba Bill is nearby? Can we expect a tell-all book at some point where Hillary reveals her true feelings about the man she chose to wed and has been politically tethered to all of her adult life?

Now that would be an interesting read, but probably not something you could share with the kids at bedtime.

The Clintons’ hypocrisy is astonishing but hardly surprising. Ever since Hillary emerged on November 9 to officially concede the election to the “creep” she’s clearly been seeking a way to one, explain why she lost an election that everyone (except for a handful of conservative believers, myself included) said was in the bag for her; two, to remain in the spotlight just in case she wants to run again in 2020 and three, rake in more bags full of loot to bribe enough people to keep the Clinton legacy alive.

If there’s a statue of Hillary somewhere (and I’m not talking about the infamous naked Hillary statue that nearly caused a riot in New York last year – you can’t make this stuff up) in the future will people try to pull it down? Would Antifa and Black Lives Matter defend it?

Westwood’s article offers the views of a few Republicans who caution Trump not to overreact to Hillary’s new tome, figuring there’s little to gain from ripping open old wounds and it would only further distract him from the current pressing business at hand. Others think Trump might gain some of his old magic back by turning his fire on an old legitimate foe rather than constantly digging at establishment members of his own party.

Time will reveal who’s correct and as always Trump will certainly follow his own instincts. But as Congress reopens after more than a month off, the president will need at least some goodwill from Republicans to face the daunting policy road ahead. He’ll also need friends if the slumbering Russia controversy suddenly awakens to rear its ugly head.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner wrote, “The need for congressional support has always been obvious when it comes to passing Trump-friendly bills. You can't legislate without the legislative branch. [Last week] brought fresh reminders that alliances on the Hill are necessary for coping with Russia too…

“Consider the reports that high-level Trump business associates sought Russian President Vladimir Putin's help on a stalled Moscow construction project while their boss was running for president. One even said in an email that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help him win the presidential election, a jarring claim given Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

“What kind of benefit of the doubt Republicans choose to give Trump on such stories will go a long way to deciding how he weathers the storm. One Republican operative, requesting anonymity so as not to publicly criticize GOP congressional leaders, argued the party's lawmakers are already too quick to run to the microphones to criticize Trump.”

That unnamed Republican operative is correct. The vast majority of the damage done to Trump’s presidency thus far hasn’t come from the mouths of Democrats or even the clubs and urine-filled balloon bombs of Antifa thugs. It similarly hasn’t been the hapless Trump-hating dolts at MSNBC or CNN that have inflicted the real harm; no, it’s the status quo preserving establishment Republicans that have practically ruined everything.

And Hillary Clinton’s book won’t make a difference either, considering no one with a brain would buy it much less read it.

In his article Antle discusses the possibility of impeachment and calculates how many GOP turncoats Democrats would need to actually succeed on a motion. It’s a hefty number and even if the Democrats could pull off some sort of a political miracle in next year’s midterms they would still need about fifteen collaborator Republican senators to sign Trump’s political death warrant.

They’d probably get John McCain though. Make that fourteen GOP senators…

Is such a scenario possible? Doubtful. Even the reality tone-deaf ruling class would realize they’d face the wrath of Trump’s voters if a Republican voted to remove him over something as objectively meritless as the Russia-collusion matter. The establishment may have some devotees in high elected office but Trump still maintains the loyalty of the party base.

So impeachment won’t happen no matter how many times the media and Democrats fantasize over it. But what about Trump’s agenda?

There’s been a lot made lately about Trump’s targeted tweets at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan with many suggesting the president’s penchant for publicly shaming his congressional leaders will hurt his chances to succeed on the important things like the border wall, infrastructure improvements and tax reform.

My question for people who continue to make this assertion is, how long can Republican leaders hide behind a ‘We’re mad at Trump so we’re not going to do what he wants’ line of argument? Are they really going to perpetually blame Trump’s tweeting thumbs for their own failures to move on the issues they’ve promoted long before Trump even came onto the political scene?

Since when did Republicans support keeping Obamacare? Or are Republicans suddenly against tax cuts/reform because they hate Trump?

It doesn’t make sense. Stupid is as stupid does (thanks, Forrest Gump). Or, more aptly put, Republicans are as Republicans do.

But can they come together? Patrick J. Buchanan wrote last week, “Seven months into the Trump presidency, the promise of a new Republican era has receded. It is not because Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have proven to be such formidable adversaries, but because the GOP coalition has gone to battle stations—against itself…

“Undeniably, Congress, which the voters empowered to repeal Obamacare, reduce tax rates and rebuild America’s infrastructure, has thus far failed. And if Congress fails to produce on tax reform, the GOP will have some serious explaining to do in 2018…

“What seems apparent is that the historic opportunity the party had in January, to forge a coalition of conservatives and populists who might find common ground on immigration, trade, border security, spending, culture and foreign policy, is slipping away.”

Yes indeed, it does appear to be that way. Republicans are far from united and it isn’t just the media making a big deal out of nothing. Several of Trump’s closest campaign lieutenants are no longer with him in the White House and there does seem to be trouble in both the administration and in Congress.

Perhaps Republicans should just barricade themselves in a big room until they work out their differences. Many a struggling professional team has locked the media out in order to have a “players only” meeting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if the GOP “players” don’t get together soon, the whole season could be lost.

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