December 12, 2016

Even as Trump’s people try to argue this is all no big deal, and Bolton even goes so far as to say it’s been faked, Mitch McConnell said today he’d support an investigation. So between him, McCain, Reed, and most Democrats, we’ve got enough of a quorum to move forward.

The conventional wisdom for Trump is that he doesn’t succumb to the normal rules of politics. Even when everyone called him a clown and was sure he’d fail, he just kept winning and winning, all the way into his current position. (The same could be said for his businesses, which have hardly been a rousing success, financially speaking, but didn’t stop the Trump brand.)

But the conventional wisdom ignores his polls. He’s still unpopular. His cabinet picks are very unpopular. Key GOP proposals like repealing Obamacare and voucherizing education or Medicare are extremely unpopular. Here are some key numbers for Obamacare support:

Pro-Obamacare:

30%: Expand it

19%: Keep it the same

Anti-Obamacare:

17%: Scale it back

26%: Repeal it

So the largest group, one representing 30%, wants more Obamacare. Another 19% are fine with it. Combine those together and you’ve got a 49% approval rating.

Combine full repeal (26%) and scale back (17%) and you hit 43%. But when you explain to the repealers that pre-existing conditions would be affected, a full 38% of them change their mind. And 19% change their mind when you explain that a bunch of people will lose coverage. That’s soft support. To put it mildly.

So he’s unpopular, his cabinet is unpopular, his moves since becoming president-elect are unpopular, his future planned moves are unpopular, and to top it all off … Russian influence.

In an alternate universe where he hadn’t chosen a bunch of pro-Russian government individuals, maybe he could shrug this off. But there are lots and lots of signs pointing back to this being a Trump/Putin presidency. It’s not just when he called for Russia to investigate Clinton’s emails, or the well-established ties his inner circle has with the Kremlin. It’s that his Secretary of State is one of Putin’s favorite Americans. That’s a big, big deal.

I don’t know what it will all mean in the end. But a few things stand out as of today: only war or a terrorist attack allows you to dodge this level of suspicion and low approval ratings, no matter who you are. Even Trump.

Ukraine, as a country, is about to be abandoned by America in a massive way because of this administration.

And China is signaling increasing concern and anger over Trump’s moves against the One China policy.

I don’t think this administration wants to set up a fake war hoax. But I do think this administration lacks the caution to not accidentally start a war. And it goes without saying that his advisors are hawkish and more anti-NATO than any in modern memory. So it’s worth grappling with the reality that war may be the only thing that could unite Americans to Trump’s side, if these first few weeks are any indication.

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