A Facebook friend and supporter of President Trump ask me for a comment on a review of President Trump’s accomplishments. The request really got me thinking about the path the country is on with this President and now a divided Congress.
The sense I have and cannot shake is that this really is not likely to end well.
Then, I thought about what might change the path we’re on in a way that works out well for almost everyone.
There is really just one option: President Trump needs to repeat the phrase uttered by a wartime President when Lyndon Johnson said, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
The Johnson Card would be a game changer!
President Trump is kind of a wartime President. There are conflicts around the world to be sure. However, the real war seems to be the one he is waging on Washington with fact-free commentary and virtually no empathy for those impacted by policies formed around the principle of what’s right is what will make President Trump look good.
Proceeding down this path with a certain challenge within his own party, a possible challenge by an independent and then an onslaught of critics from the Democrats, both in Congress and on the campaign trail is fraught with peril for the President. While his base may stay behind him, there is little reason to believe that the base can grow. And, with the wild policy swings bringing volatility to the stock market, not even a strong economy can offset concerns about longer term consequences.
Of course, there is always the wildcard of the Mueller investigation which may or may not change everything.
Here’s the thing, the single best option for the President is to play the Johnson Card. Electing not to seek reelection takes all the energy out of the opposition. It actually opens opportunities for a President, unburdened by any past record or firm philosophy, to work out compromises that will pass the House and the Senate. He actually could get a few things done!
Even though the President’s view is that he has accomplished more than any President in history, his base will be disappointed; but, the secret to the kind of success President Trump seeks is to leave them wanting more. And, he can give it to them! He can have the biggest paid speaking events. He can draw the greatest crowds. He can be the most beloved figure to millions.
What’s not to like?
He won’t have to endure the scrutiny of voters who delivered a remarkable number of Democrats to Congress. He won’t have to joust with the pollsters who want to study every move he makes. And, the media will inevitably and happily move on to the news around who comes next.
Plus, he can get started on raising money for the greatest Presidential Library any President has ever known…I mean, why wait for this kind of stuff.
Best of all, he can get that Tower built while he can still enjoy it in Moscow.
Yes, the Johnson Card is the single best move President Trump can make. It’s one that friend and foe alike would ultimately embrace.
If it makes so much sense, why do I worry it will never happen?
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.