I’m Just Tired of All of It

I’m tired of all the noise and hype. I’m tired of the daily crises. I’m tired of the drama that is produced by President Donald Trump. I’m tired of the suffocating coverage by the national media of the chaos that swirls around the administration. I’m tired of the obvious partisanship on Capitol Hill. I wish it would all stop, but I know it won’t.

I’m tired of the stupid tweets from the president of the United States that wouldn’t be appropriate for a 12-year-old school yard bully, let alone someone who is supposed to be a world leader.

I’m tired of the lies and efforts to misdirect that come from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other members of the White House and friends of the president.

I’m tired of Trump’s ridiculous rallies — his attacks on the media and the “deep state,” his misstatements about the economy, and his efforts to undermine important institutions such as the Department of Justice and the FBI.

I’m tired of all of those people standing behind him, wearing their MAGA hats and waving signs, and cheering mindlessly when he mocks his adversaries, attacks America’s allies and brags about his alleged accomplishments.

I’m tired of much of the media coverage. While I agree with most critics of the president and Republicans on Capitol Hill, I wonder why the major cable networks can’t take a break once in a while from talking Trump (or more recently, Judge Brett Kavanaugh) and instead give me some other news.

Something else MUST be going on around the world.

Could we get some more coverage of Venezuela? The nationalist regimes in Poland and Hungary? The change in leadership in Australia? China’s economy and foreign policy efforts? Africa? Something must be happening there.

I’d even like to see or read pieces on how the states are dealing with health care or economic issues.

I’m unbearably tired of the endless panels on CNN and MSNBC going over the same topics all day. And I’m tired of cable television guests who talk about the midterms but know as much about elections as I do about nuclear physics.

I’m tired of the cable shows that feature panels/guests who are only on one side of the argument, and I’m tired of cable shows that have two guests from different parties yelling at each other rather than trying to be analytical.

I’m tired of Capitol Hill Republicans who refuse to comment on and criticize stupid things the president says or does.

Nobody can ever answer a question with “yes” or “no.” I’m tired of that, too.

I’m tired — really, really tired — of the hypocrisy. I’m tired of Republicans expressing shock that Democrats are trying to delay the confirmation of Kavanaugh and apparently forgetting that they wouldn’t take up the nomination of Merrick Garland, for no other reason than Barack Obama nominated him.

I’m tired of Democrats acting as if they wouldn’t do the same thing that Republicans are now doing if they were in the majority.

You see, I watched Democrats avoid criticizing Bill Clinton when he had his scandal, and I saw former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid begin the slippery slope of undermining the filibuster.

Oh, and I’m seriously tired of people complaining about “false equivalence.”

Sure, I’ll admit that I’m not equally tired of everything.

I’m most tired about Trump’s misstatements about the 2016 campaign, his complete lack of understanding about trade and deficits, his ignorance of American history, and his bragging and narcissism.

And, of course, I’m really tired of his lies and misstatements — and his constant efforts to accuse people of doing things of which he is guilty.

By now, you certainly want to know why I’m still writing about politics if I’m so tired of it all.

That’s a fair question.

Part of the answer is that I’m not certain what else I would do.

Part of it, I’m sure, is force of habit.

I have been watching the evening news since I was a child.

We were a Huntley-Brinkley family. And my family got two newspapers delivered each day — The New York Times in the morning and the Journal-American in the afternoon.

I’ve been watching and reading about politics for at least 60 years. I still remember how excited I was right before the 1960 election and how I enjoyed watching the national convention coverage when it was on broadcast TV.

I loved watching Frank McGee and John Chancellor and Bruce Morton.

So you can say that, in part, I’m addicted.

But I also remain fascinated and entertained by the game of politics.

Maybe I will get so tired of all the tumult associated with Trump that I’ll simply walk away.

But not today.

Not at least until after the midterms, when we see more winners and losers, and when the truly bizarre story we are all now following may show signs of coming to an end.

This column appeared originally in Roll Call on September 26, 2018.

Donald Trump’s Toughest Adversary? That Would Be Donald Trump

While President Trump complains about the national media, Democrats, Robert S. Mueller’s Russian “witch hunt” and the political establishment, none of those things is why the November House elections are a major headache for the Republican Party. Donald Trump’s biggest problem is Donald Trump.

Trump has turned what could have been a challenging midterm election environment into a potentially disastrous one. Through his tweets and statements, the president continues to make the 2018 midterm elections a referendum on his first two years in office.

Of course, that could be a good thing, since unemployment is down, economic growth is up and ISIS is in retreat.

But instead of running on those accomplishments, Trump prefers to stir the pot of grievance, drawing applause from his hard-core supporters for his attacks on individuals and institutions, and refusing to reach out to potential new supporters.

He goes after Republican officeholders, professional basketball stars, NFL players and members of Congress.

He whips up anger toward the media, undermines the FBI and criticizes America’s allies and NATO.

He imposes tariffs that hurt American agriculture.

That might not be a terrible strategy if Trump had won comfortably in 2016. But he lost the popular vote by more than 2 points and drew only 46.1 percent of the vote, so any leakage from his original coalition or increased turnout from anti-Trumpers could have a dramatic impact on the midterm’s results.

In fact, Republican self-identification seems to be slipping, while Democratic enthusiasm is up.

Typically, when a president is unpopular, candidates from the president’s party try to “localize” their races. They want voters to focus on the individual nominees — their records and qualifications — rather than on the performance of the president.

But that is difficult to accomplish when the president dominates the news and makes controversial comments daily.

Trump clearly loves rallies. As an entertainer, he enjoys (even craves) being the center of attention. He is energized by the applause and cheers. His success in swaying GOP primaries through his endorsements has also fed his ego, which in turn has increased his desire to do more events and to whip up his audiences with more and more outrageous assertions and charges.

Not surprisingly, the president recently promised that he will be on the stump almost continually for Republican nominees in the fall.

“I’ll go six or seven days a week when we’re 60 days out, and I will be campaigning for all of these great people that do have a difficult race, and we think we are going to bring them over the line,” he said during a recent interview with Sean Hannity.

That strategy may feed the president’s ego and reflect his view that he is his party’s best advocate, but it shows he misunderstands the midterm dynamic.

Trump’s national campaign blitz will no doubt generate effusive applause in Mississippi, rural West Virginia and northeastern Pennsylvania, but it is not helpful in suburban counties with college-educated voters, congressional districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 or even competitive Republican-leaning congressional districts.

It isn’t helpful for GOP Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Jason Lewis of Minnesota or Rod Blum of Iowa.

Trump’s campaign plan guarantees the November midterms will be a referendum on the president — not the “local” contests so many Republican nominees in swing districts prefer.

That could help Republican Senate nominees in Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia, but it increases the likelihood that the House will flip to the Democrats.

To be sure, given the president’s performance during his first two years in office, the Democrats were always going to make Trump the issue in the midterms. But by being so divisive and so active on the stump, the president has made it easier for the Democrats to nationalize the November elections and more difficult for those Republicans who are trying to swim against the midterm tide.

Because Trump thinks that everything is about him, he is simply incapable of receding into the background or allowing the midterms to be about anyone other than himself. And because he cannot acknowledge his own missteps and relies on caricatures and exaggeration to demonize his foes, he is incapable of reaching out to voters who are not already reliable members of the Trump base.

The combination of those flaws makes the president of the United States the biggest problem for the Republican Party this year. Donald Trump has met the enemy — and it is himself.

This column appeared originaly on August 7, 2018.