President Trump is under Constitutional attack in the middle of a game of chicken with China.
No one is talking about a credible solution. Not Trump, not Congress, and not his Democratic rivals. So maybe we’re asking the wrong people. Maybe we should be asking the Republicans who want his job.
The question is no longer whether Trump was right to start a trade war. It’s not even how much chance it has of succeeding, as opposed to serving as an anvil hanging from the neck of the world economy.
The question, now, is whether he or anyone else is at the wheel.
Now that so much of Trump’s apparently short attention span is taken up by an impeachment inquiry, doubtlessly followed by the real thing, how much effort will he put into turning the stalemated trade battle around?
Unlike the Bill Clinton impeachment, this impeachment inquiry personally worries many of the people currently working high-level jobs in the West Wing. If they’re concerned about their employment and future freedom, how much innovative help are they going to give Trump? Enough to break through his narcissistic shell?
At the same time, the members of the two houses of Congress, split ideologically, are also preoccupied with impeachment. And like Trump, most of the rest of their attention is focused on 2020 reelection. Any hope of legislators accepting bipartisanship, and stepping in and somehow saving the day, seems faint.
The possibility of finally getting a little practical gun control seemed bright a few weeks ago, after a slew of shootings of innocents put an unusual amount of pressure on the right. That’s quieted, too.
Public attention is also occupied by impeachment and elections. We, too, are not engaged on issues. But that could change.
If more political pressure were trained on Trump, and Congress as well, to solve our intractable problems at the same time everybody is locked in internecine warfare, it could force some action. There is only one way I can think of to make that happen.
There are three sources of political pressure that are largely untapped. And they’re just champing at the bit.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh are all running for the 2020 Republican Presidential Nomination in relative obscurity. If their voices were heard, speaking to issues, it might bring more pressure on everybody else.
But a flat-busted media industry isn’t going to appreciably help them do that, unless it, too, is provoked. There’s a way that might happen.
The three non-Trump GOP candidates could pool their money to buy prime-time TV for evening debates, together with Trump, or just for them. This could, for the first time, make them sound credible. And louder.
If they just talk about Trump, however, they’ll merely add to the noise. They need to raise the level of discourse. They need to talk about trade, and guns, the deficit, health care and climate change.
At least some of the handful of state Republican parties should reverse their decisions to cancel their Presidential primaries. These three men — and any other credible candidates who might want to jump in — need to believe they have a decent chance to win delegates.
Prime-time TV costs big money. Republican donors — those now sitting out the election — would need a reason to step up.
One reason would be to prepare the ground for the future. It’s possible that the GOP will be in tatters after 2020 if Trump’s version of the party is all that’s heard through next November. It’s important to remind independent voters that the Republican Party has something else to say.
Another reason is genuine hope that one of the candidates could prevail.
You don’t think there’s any hope for that kind of long shot? Maybe not.
But look who’s President right now.