Here’s my unpopular view of the week, possibly year. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord is his smartest political move yet. He’s satisfying both his base and conservative critics who’ve been doubting him from the beginning. He’s turned the conversation from health care and Russian collusion to climate change, an issue with limited political punch.
Conservative writers and activists have been bashing Trump since before he was president. They detest his isolationist foreign policy and are suspicious of his ties to Putin. They don’t like Steve Bannon or Breitbart and they’ve bashed Fox News for shilling for Trump instead of conservative values.
Yesterday, though, conservatives stayed silent and some were praising his decision. They’ve never liked the Paris agreement for the same reason they don’t like the United Nations. They don’t want other countries dictating what we do with our policies. Trump’s finally doing something they can agree with, even if they might disagree about the why.
As for Trump’s base, they’re loving it. They’ve got no use for Europeans and most flat out don’t believe in climate change. They’ve bought the Fox News line that the whole thing is a liberal hoax. This is the Trump they love, snubbing his nose at intellectuals, liberal elites and the European effete.
As for the liberals and progressives, they’ve overreacted, howling and pronouncing the pending end of the world. Liberal billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer tweeted, “If Trump pulls the US out of the #ParisAgreement he will be committing a traitorous act of war against the American people.” How ridiculous. Statements like that do more harm to his credibility than advancing any argument to reduce carbon emissions.
Pulling out of the Paris accords is the first step in rebuilding a coalition that can maintain GOP control of Congress and re-elect Trump in 2020. He needs some legislative victories now, but he’s bought himself a couple of neutral news cycles heading into the weekend that rallies both his base and conservatives. He may blow it with a few crazy tweets or ill-timed lies but for now he’s got the first breathing room he’s had in a long while.
He made a classic bait-and-switch and the opposition bought it. They’re chasing him down the apocalypse hole while the GOP Senate is regrouping on the health care bill. The White House and Congressional Republicans will try to regain control of the message and narrative next week. It’ll be tough with the Comey hearings coming up on Thursday, but Democrats have done a lousy job of managing expectations. Instead of showing maps with coastal cities underwater in 100 years, they should be talking about the damage to the renewable energy sector that’s been creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
Donald Trump is not going to get impeached and he’s not likely to resign. Democrats banking on his implosion should rethink their strategy. Instead of waiting for more self-inflicted wounds, they should be fighting moves to bring back pre-existing conditions and offering policy solutions that help working-class families.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >