A victory for President Trump? Not so fast

Posted3/26/2019 1:00 AM

What may be considered a major victory for President Donald Trump may really be nothing more than an extension of the open and nasty -- and mean-spirited -- hostility between Trump and the Democratic establishment.

The fact that Trump has been "cleared" of the most substantial or serious allegations brought against him does not and will not lessen the growing division in the U.S. over his administration. He's more than two years into his term as President -- more than halfway -- and the country seems to be more divided today than it was in November of 2016.


And Trump continues to find ways to fan the flames of discord, almost as if the growing hostility between the president and the news media is not just one of the of the weapons in his war chest but seems to be one of the key elements of his strategy.

With eight … or 10 … or 14 … or more … Democrats drooling to take him on next year, Trump is almost in a situation in which American voters will feel sorry for him. The hostility of the "mainstream" news media and network television have almost made Trump a sympathetic figure.

Regardless of what the true story of Trump's involvement with Russia is, or was, he has survived the current ordeal and maybe more people will realize that Trump (the businessman) has been doing business in Russia for many years and that connections and contacts (and deals) are not necessarily illegal or hostile to the United States.

It's hard to imagine that Trump is so smart that this is all according to plan.

His outspoken criticism of the late Sen. John McCain has been tiresome and suggests that he is not smart enough to know when enough is enough. Pettiness and disrespect for dead war heroes are not traits that Americans appreciate, even if the "war hero" was not a real "war hero." But nor was John McCain a draft-evader. Winning elections is a game of addition, not subtraction, and Trump can't afford to alienate Republicans (and many other Americans) who admired and supported John McCain.

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Just as the number of Democrats anxious to take Trump on continues to grow, it seems certain that the number of Republicans who are quietly -- silently -- thinking about challenging Trump must be growing.

But Trump is such an enigma. How does any Republican senator or representative or governor know when is the time to mount a challenge and what doing so may mean for his or her future in public life?

One of the crucial things Donald Trump needs to do is find a way -- and an issue -- on which he can work with Democrats in the Senate and House. He needs to propose some new action or program -- or solve some problem -- that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon and that the American people can support.

That's not going to be easy. Trump may not be smart enough to do that.

Ed Murnane, edmurnane@gmail.com, of Arlington Heights, is retired president of the Illinois Civil Justice League and a former staff member for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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