As President Trump reaches his 100-day mark in office, an unfriendly news media has done much to undermine his efforts. Trump voters appear to be ignoring it all, says Ford O'Connell, a political strategist and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.
“Employing a blitzkrieg-style deluge of misleading headlines, both online and in print, coupled with a heavy diet of 89 percent negative broadcast network news coverage of Trump, the groupthink of the liberal media bubble has tried mightily to portray President Trump’s first 100 days in office as the worst political disaster of the last half century,” Mr. O'Connell tells The Washington Times.
“How else are we to explain the fact that President Trump has the lowest approval rating since 1945, yet his supporters express little-to-no buyer’s remorse and that if the 2016 presidential election were held today, Trumpwould win the popular vote over Hillary Clinton, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll?” he continued.
“Some things you just can’t make up, but that hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from trying to push their hostile views about Trump on to the American voter. Luckily for Trump, his supporters are not buying the shameful spin,” Mr. O'Connell said.
Despite the constant pushback from journalists and news organizations, the president still has clear and positive options, however.
If President Trump meets his own benchmark of success, by his 100th day as president on Saturday, he will have proposals in Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act, provide middle-class tax relief, reform ethics rules to reduce the influence of special interests and fund a wall on the Mexico border.
The French presidential runoff election now underway between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen after their preliminary wins yesterday is a warning shot across the European Union’s bow, and the latest signal of a global embrace of Trump-like nationalism.
Macron and Le Pen, neither members of France’s major political parties, advanced to a May 7 runoff election after leading yesterday’s vote, as the French rejected the two main political groups — the Socialists and the Republicans — that have governed post-war France. Conservative Francois Fillon had just under 20 percent, which was slightly ahead of the far-left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon, who had 19 percent.
Le Pen, a lawyer, has espoused an anti-EU “French-first” platform, which calls for closed borders, tough security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.
GOP operative Ford O’Connell, an adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said the election shows “political elites are becoming an endangered species, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe.”
“Not only did Le Pen come through, but so did Marcon, and neither of them were from the established political parties,” O’Connell said. “In France, obviously nationalism/populism is on the rise, but what’s unclear is if there are enough voters to carry Le Pen across the finish line. There’s no question that if she wins, the long-term staying power of the EU will seriously be in jeopardy.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says Democrats won't even consider working with President Trump on tax reform unless the president releases his tax returns. Schumer says we can't trust that Trump's tax proposals are designed to benefit us, rather than him, unless we see his taxes.
That's probably not true on three levels. Trump's tax returns would not tell us whether his policies are designed to benefit him at our expense. Kowtowing to Democrats on this offers no assurance of success on tax reform. And Democrats are unlikely to help the president under any circumstances, because their goal is to make him not a one-term president but a two-year president.
They don't want to work with him on any major legislative proposal. They want to build on their cases against him, stall his initiatives with endless investigations, and use whatever they can to fundraise against him. Their goal is not tax reform, it's to win back the House in 2018, so Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., can then file articles of impeachment on a weekly basis.
But regardless of all this, Trump needs to find a way to get tax reform across the finish line by the end of 2017. He ran as a jobs president, and tax reform on both the corporate and individual sides is essential to restarting the economy. The window to win cooperation from either side of the aisle will start to close when the calendar turns to 2018 and members start worrying about their own electoral survival.
The fate of his entire administration could hang in the balance. Generally, the first year is seen as the year presidents put their stamps on the country, the economy and the state of play in Washington. For most presidents, if their agenda is to be enacted, there must be significant legislative advances toward those goals in the first year.
Georgia Special Election: Democrats Claim 'Victory For The Ages' Over Donald Trump But Fall Short Of Outright Win
Democrats have hailed a strong performance in a Georgia special election vote that was seen as indicative of support for Donald Trump's presidency.
Though he narrowly failed to secure an outright first round win, Democratic hopeful Jon Ossoff claimed his 48.3 per cent was a “victory for the ages” in the Atlanta congressional race.
In a field of 18 candidates, including 11 Republicans, Mr Ossoff outperformed polls in Georgia's traditionally Republican 6th Congressional District.
But he came just short of the 50 per cent he needed to make it into Congress without a run-off, allowing Mr Trump himself to claim the result was a "big 'R' win".
And despite the President's confidence, some in his party were more cautious. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said “Republicans shouldn't be patting themselves on the back”.
Some conservatives say it’s time to begin attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren, hoping to dent the liberal icon’s political ascent as she begins a book tour widely seen as a testing ground for a 2020 presidential bid.
Republicans have been divided over how to handle Ms. Warren, a first-term senator from Massachusetts and one of the Democratic Party’s biggest draws. Some prominent leaders have sought to boost her profile, figuring she’d be an easier opponent to defeat in 2020 than others.
But America Rising Political Action Committee says Ms. Warren needs to be taken down a few pegs, so the group is beginning an initiative to put her under the microscope as she kicks off a tour in New York Tuesday for her latest book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.”
Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist, said it is smart to attack Ms. Warren because it could set up a favorable contrast for President Trump, reminding voters of the Democratic alternative.
“She is always great for boosting conservatives who go crazy with the possibility that she could go anywhere near the White House,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Hillary Clinton used to wonderfully fill that role for us. … You need to find someone else, and Elizabeth Warren is the embodiment of all [that] wings of the Republican Party stand against. You say her name in Republican circles and they spit venom.”
The breathless coverage of a Trump White House reportedly gripped by palace intrigue is enough to keep a reader’s head spinning.
Chief strategist Steve Bannon is about to be fired. Or will he quit? Maybe neither, but his clout has certainly waned. Stephen Miller, once a Bannon acolyte, is now aligned with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Economic adviser Gary Cohn, a Wall Street man and past donor to top Democrats, also now has President Trump’s ear.
All of this may sound like so much schoolyard gossip, but it matters. The declining White House status of the populist-nationalist Mr. Bannon has telegraphed the rise of the more-moderate, establishment-oriented “globalists” – foremost, Mr. Cohn, Mr. Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump.
All of this points to a core fact about Trump that was well-known from the beginning of his campaign – that above all, he is results-oriented.
“What could make the Trump presidency successful is that he’s not wedded to a particular ideology,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Donald Trump was not elected to be president of the Republican Party or a doctrinaire conservative. He is about putting people back to work and getting things done, and he’ll move around the spectrum to do it.”
Another non-negotiable with Trump is his family. “Bannon got himself caught up in family business, and it’s unwinnable for him,” says Mr. O’Connell. “The question is not, is his influence diminished, but can he stay in the administration.”
President Trump said Wednesday he still wants to tackle health care before moving on to tax reform, a shift that raises the stakes for congressional Republicans struggling to pin down an Obamacare replacement and untangle a web of fiscal deadlines.
After the collapse last month of the first GOP bid to repeal Obamacare, Mr. Trump said he was done with the thorny issue and was instead ready to pass historic tax cuts.
But he’s now come back to congressional Republicans’ stance, which is that the savings from repealing and replacing Obamacare will allow for deeper tax cuts.
“Health care’s going to happen at some point,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network. “Now, if it doesn’t happen fast enough, I’ll start the taxes. But the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do health care first.”
His budget director, Mick Mulvaney, echoed his comments in separate interviews with cable networks.
Their prodding reflects growing concern about legislative pile-up confronting Republicans, who have yet to notch any major wins from Capitol Hill this year.
“They have to make it work, because their standing in the House is in jeopardy, and Trump’s standing to do things after the midterms is as well,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said.
Aggression, hostility, bias: The news media’s unapologetic war on President Trump has been going full force since he was inaugurated. Manipulative headlines and unfair coverage require strategic countermeasures — and the heart of a lion perhaps.
“Short of curing cancer or forging peace in the Middle East, President Trump is always going to be a target of ire for a majority of the media. Trump was not their candidate, and he is never going to be their candidate — they just simply don’t like him. That said, President Trump cannot let the media pierce his image as a dealmaker who puts America first amid a narrative of incompetence and dysfunction,” Ford O’Connell, an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management and a political analyst, tells Inside the Beltway.
There are tactics to neutralize negative press and avoid the damaging side effects of an entrenched political establishment, he says.
“President Trump will need a big legislative victory on tax reform, infrastructure or border enforcement and immigration. He can achieve that by putting more balls in play on Capitol Hill and playing small ball in the interim: the Supreme Court confirmation, avoiding a government shutdown, raising the debt ceiling. What Trump is fighting against more than the media is a Washington that is perfectly happy with the status quo. A legislative victory won’t be easy, but should it occur, Trump will likely get a second bite at the apple on health care reform,” Mr. O’Connell continues.
“When you are up to your eyeballs in alligators, it is hard to remember your original mission: to drain the swamp. As long as President Trump makes clear that every measure he signs, whether it is an executive order or a bill before Congress, is presented to the electorate as something that will increase jobs or improve people’s livelihood, his core supporters will never abandon Trump. There were a lot of reasons Trump was elected president, but chief among them was a belief he would improve the economy and make life better for average Americans,” he concludes.
Senior voters could hold the key to Democratic success in the 2018 midterm elections.
The party has experienced an exodus of older Americans over the past few midterms. The past three midterm cycles — 2006, 2010 and 2014 — saw the party’s share of age 65-and-over voters fall by 17 percentage points.
Amid that slide, Democrats lost majorities in both the House and Senate.
But while President Trump won over 52 percent of seniors in November, Democrats are hoping that Trump and congressional Republicans are providing the party with openings around issues such as healthcare and his budget proposal that can be used to win older voters back.
Republican strategists blamed the exodus in part on shifts in Democratic priorities towards wooing younger voters and away from traditional values. They also cite voters’ perceptions that Republicans are better on economic issues.
“With the Democratic Party’s focus on open borders, what could be called excessive entitlements and identity politics, today’s Democratic Party is simply not speaking the same language,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.
O’Connell added that Trump’s promise not to touch Social Security or Medicare, two programs dear to seniors, will help keep older Americans from abandoning Republicans.