Trump is doomed.

Trump says he is in charge and a winner. His core brand is at risk. Virtue can lose and remain virtuous, but winners have to win to stay winners.

Trump isn’t in charge. Lots of people are in charge. James Madison saw to that.

No he isn’t. Trump will learn soon enough.

Some thoughtful political observers, including Larry DiCara of Boston, have speculated that Trump is heading for a constitutional crisis similar to FDR’s court packing or Nixon’s assertion that “when the President does it, that means it is not illegal.” In a Playboy interview in 1990 Trump Trump expressed his admiration for government exercising raw power. “They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”

Trump shares power in the constitutional system.

Some think Trump will be unwilling to accept the limitations of his office. HIs condemnation of the “dishonest press” and references to “so-called judges” are troubling to people looking for early signs of constitutional abuse.

Trump’s core brand requires him being the center of attention and power. Trump presents the values of strength, authority, getting things done, confidence, status, and winning. Trump doesn’t represent “virtue” or “empathy” or “getting along.” Trump represents power and domination and winning. Virtue can lose and remain virtuous, but winners need to win.

Trump can only be in charge if he ignores the Constitution, which will set up a clear constitutional crisis, one which will empower his opponents. If he acts constitutionally the Trump message of decisive action will be muddled, then countered, by the ambitions of others and the design of the constitution. Either way, Trump’s brand is injured.

James Madison wrote in Federalist #51 “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” so the constitutional system was established with checks and balances, with each body and each member owing their office to a different electorate. As other presidents have learned, presidents are unique in their ability to command attention, but they share power.

Who, or what, will stop Trump? The constitutional process. The process destroys presidential ambitions. Remember, Obama was elected with a real landslide in 2008, had a majority in the House and barely, temporarily, 60 votes in the Senate, yet he could not pass a clean health care bill without multiple compromises. Trump had a fluke-like electoral vote victory, marred by Russian involvement, and a two seat majority in the US Senate and nothing like Obama’s mandate. Both presidents generated enthusiastic opposition.

McCain and Graham, and soon others.

Old Guard opposition.

As this blog has noted repeatedly, Trump has vastly over-promised on the replacement of Obamacare. There is no common denominator that will please anyone, much less a majority. There was no consensus on immigration, which is why the House backed away from passing immigration reform 20 Republican Senators Oppose Trump on Immigration

Sen Ben Sasse. You will hear more from him

Trump has to contend with senatorial ambition and animus. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were both humiliated by Trump who called them both “losers.” Now Trump needs them but they represent long time established GOP orthodoxy on the American military and our policy toward Russia. They don’t just dislike him. They disagree with him.

Trump crushed “Lying Ted” Cruz. Susan Collins represents Maine in blue New England. Trump has a fragile Senatorial majority.

Sen. Tom Cotton. You will hear more from him, too.

Younger senators are emerging. The Washington DC joke is that every US Senator sees a president in the mirror. Multiple Republican Senators are jockeying for advantage and their advantage does come from echoing Trump, but from opposing him in ways that capture Republican support. Both Sasse and Cotton graduated from Harvard, both made their way quickly to the US Senate. They perceive themselves as president. Ted Cruz (Princeton, then Harvard Law) is just getting started. Marco Rubio was in Franklin, New Hampshire serving pancakes last year and he is not done either.

Sen. Marco Rubio. Not done yet.

I list these Senators not to begin early commentary on the 2020 presidential election but to remind readers of the present political environment. Donald Trump’s core brand is power, success, shaking things up, and getting things done.

He faces a gauntlet of opposition from ambitious opponents and from a process that is designed to prevent the core Trump brand message from being fulfilled. There are Senators eager to call Trump a loser and a con man and a fraud, someone who did not know how to get things done constitutionally. People are watching closely to see if he usurps non-constitutional power, in which case the opposition gets even stronger.

Trump painted himself into a trap: his core brand is at risk and he needs the help of people he humiliated to succeed. Trump wants the story to be: “Trump the winner who gets things done.” It will be nearly impossible to sell that story if, as things play out, he cannot get things done.

There are people emerging who want to be sure he fails. They are fellow Republicans but they don’t like him. They don’t agree with him. They want him to lose. They want his job.

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