l have no inside information about the “real” thinking of the Hill GOP as we near the end of the first six months of the Trump Administration. l read what you read about private misgivings or contempt. But l don’t know what to make of these reports. And private misgivings or contempt mean nothing, anyway, unless the concerns lead to concrete action.
The Hill GOP has shown no stomach for concrete action. On the contrary, the members have taken the Sgt. Schultz approach. They see nothing. They know nothing. They hide from the media.
Why no concrete action, assuming the concerns exist?
The two most plausible and often-repeated explanations are first, that the overriding objective of the GOP is to pass its legislative agenda — an objective that requires a President willing to sign the bills that come to him — and second, that Trump’s base would savage in next year’s mid-Term elections any Republicans who participated in a move against their Dear Leader.
There is, of course, no need to choose one of these explanations over the other. The conventional political wisdom, I’d say, is that there’s truth in both of them.
Neither consideration, however, necessarily insulates Trump from picking up real GOP opposition on the Hill in the months between now and November of next year.
Republicans in districts or states that are not deep red might suss out from poll results that the manifold enormities of word and action flung continually by Trump and his associates must be addressed to avoid electoral disaster, even if — and it’s a big if — we haven’t heard by year’s end or by next spring from Mueller and his team.
Some fraction of Trump’s base undoubtedly will be with him come hell or high water. And those folks are especially likely to get out and vote to exact revenge on any members of Congress they come to regard as disloyal to the Dear Leader.
But how many of these folks are there now, push comes to shove? My guess is that there are enough sufficiently committed anti-Trump voters, putting together progressives and center-left and center and center-right folks from both parties and the ranks of independents, to draw into serious question whether the hardest of the hardcore foot soldiers of the Trump Nation can dictate their terms to the GOP as a whole.
Nor is it clear that the GOP ambition of completing its legislative objectives is a sufficient condition for Republicans to remain mute. The record thus far suggests that the GOP members are divided among themselves on the details of many if not all of the objectives from healthcare to tax reform. The day might come when the better part of valor might be to shelve, at least for the near term, some of the objectives. And then, of course, Trump’s signature would lose some substantial measure of its practical value.
Bottom line: Who knows? Predictability is not a hallmark of our present political situation.