Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



With Him or Against Him?

Omri Nahmias, Washington, D.C.

Has the president lost whatever fragile grip he once held over his party? A look at his allies, his adversaries, and those who’ve switched sides

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

 Mishpacha image

TAKING SIDES In this chaotic atmosphere, Republicans who have separated themselves from the president are seen as trying to reap the benefits of opposition by highlighting every stumble the president makes instead of standing behind him (Photos: AFP ImageBank)

T en months after he stunned the world and won the US presidential election, the party Donald J. Trump rode to victory is now in open rebellion against him.

Yes — it’s gotten that bad.

GOP leaders are at wit’s end with Trump, the flamboyant former real-estate tycoon turned politician, who sounds presidential one day, and outlandish the next.

Take last week, for example. His address last Monday night at Fort Myer, in Arlington, Virginia, outlining his Afghanistan and south Asia policies, was sober and levelheaded. “We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image,” Trump said.

A day later, at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Americans witnessed the unplugged version of Trump, delivering a speech that even supporters found inflammatory and divisive. Defending himself against charges that he was soft on hate groups following demonstrations by neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump denied it, but in an inarticulate fashion. “I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let’s see, K.K.K., we have K.K.K.”

Trump has insisted that he’s not an ideologue and is only interested in getting things done. But the bottom line is, 200 days into his presidency, the cracks between Trump’s character and the party establishment are threatening to rupture into a significant chasm.

The most recent conflagration was the events in Charlottesville, and what many viewed as the president’s weak condemnations. That led a number of Republican lawmakers to attack Trump openly and by name.

Of course, the president swung back, singling out Arizona senator Jeff Flake in a speech on the senator’s home turf in Phoenix, and providing political support for a state senator who is hoping to unseat Flake in next year’s GOP primary.

“You have to recognize that our party’s leadership was selling a product that wasn’t that popular” - Sen. Tom Cotton

Neither Flake nor Arizona’s other Republican senator, John McCain, attended Trump’s rally, nor did Arizona’s Republican governor Douglas Ducey. Many surmised that the trio simply voted with their feet out — worried that Trump would use their presence to announce a pardon for former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, who built his career on tough anti-immigration rhetoric. Indeed, the president did pardon Arpaio of a minor charge, but not until later in the week.

In short, Republicans are caught in a catch-22: They are repelled by the president’s unbridled style, yet need him to succeed to bolster the party and their own chances at the polls.

When Republicans come back from their summer recess in September, the rubber will meet the road. President Trump and the GOP leadership must agree on legislation that will keep the federal government open and raise the debt limit, but Trump has his own agenda. He wants to build a wall along the Mexican border, overhaul the US tax system, and introduce a massive infrastructure spending plan. Of course, all of that will require the consent of the party that controls both houses of Congress — his own.

In this chaotic atmosphere, Republicans who have separated themselves from the president are seen as trying to reap the benefits of opposition by highlighting every stumble the president makes instead of standing behind him.

Others have remained firmly on the president’s side, either because they back his positions, feel he deserves more time to settle into the Oval Office, or are politically savvy enough to recognize that a large plurality of rank-and-file Republican voters still back Trump. In short, if these GOP lawmakers turn their backs on the president, they may be hurting themselves more than the president.

So who is behind Trump, and who opposes him? Who has switched sides? Here’s a look at a few key members who can sway their colleagues in either direction. Some of them hold key positions on important committees, while others are simply influential voices. Any of them might set the tone for the GOP for the coming months. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 675)

Related Stories

Midnight Rider

Barbara Bensoussan

Rabbi Harry Berkowitz went from riding shotgun with transit police to serving as chaplain for the MT...

All My Daughters

Barbara Bensoussan

Rabbi Avraham Kelman z”l’s greatest achievement: the founding of a yeshivah back in the 1950s agains...

Moon Chasers

Ben Wymore

Ben Wymore and his family are no strangers to extended travel. This year’s goal was more modest than...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
No Misunderstandings
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Hashem revealed the secret of a balanced life
What Was the Court’s Rush?
Yonoson Rosenblum The Democratic Party’s descent into madness
Survey? Oy Vey
Eytan Kobre How could YAFFED promote such a farce?
Filling the Void
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik Jewish leaders don’t need to be declared or coronated
Top 5 Ways We Remember Our Rebbeim (and we love them for it!)
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin An ode to these pivotal people in my life
Hanging On in Newark
Rabbi Nosson Scherman Rabbi Nosson Scherman remembers the shul of his youth
A Fine Kettle of Fish
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman The “minor” chasadim are often the most meaningful
The Next Hill
Jacob L. Freedman The look on Malachi’s face nearly broke my heart
Tradition and Modern Meet in One Long Dance
Riki Goldstein Fusing tradition and modernity comes naturally to him
A Playlist for Shabbos
Riki Goldstein What does Moshy Kraus sing at the Shabbos table?
With Flying Colors
Riki Goldstein My 15 seconds of fame on the Carnegie Hall stage
Full Faith
Faigy Peritzman With emunah, everyone’s obligation is the same
Speechless
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Silence isn’t always golden
The Only One
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Within every Jew is the flame of instinctive emunah