Dec 20, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Trump's lame-duck debacle

Photo: Olivier Douliery, Pool/Getty Images

President Trump has botched the six weeks since the midterms, repeatedly making unforced errors that have produced weaker markets and political standing as he heads into next year's divided government and his re-election race.

What's happening: Yesterday became "Dump on Trump" day for the president's usual allies, as Republican officials condemned his seemingly impulsive decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) quoted a tweet from the Russian embassy in Washington that praised the decision, and added: "I found someone who is supportive of the decision to retreat from #Syria."
  • Inviting "Mission accomplished" comparisons, Trump declared: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the withdrawal "an Obama-like mistake" that "would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia. I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world."
  • Trump got rolled on funding for the border wall, with conservative commentators roasting his cave from a shutdown threat with no assurance or even indication that full funding was in the offing. "WALL STALL ... TRUMP IN RETREAT," bannered Matt Drudge, who is usually supportive. And later: "PELOSI HOLIDAY CHEER ... DANCING AT BAR AFTER WALL WIN!"
  • Democratic leaders couldn't believe their good fortune when Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi came to the White House intent on branding the funding fight "the Trump shutdown" and he did it for her, saying in front of cameras: "I am proud to shut down the government for border security. ... I will take the mantle. ... I’m not going to blame you for it."
  • Since Trump's rejection in the midterm election, the Dow Jones industrial average — with traders rallied over tariffs, tech and spreading pessimism — has lost 2,300 points, or 9%, with several slides following Trump comments. Stocks are on track for their worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression.
  • Trump's public auditioning of potential chiefs of staff made it look like he couldn't attract talent — then he hastily announced Mick Mulvaney as "acting" chief because, according to insiders, he was freaked out by news coverage suggesting the search was a debacle.

Be smart: All of this has happened before Democrats take over the House and get subpoena power. 

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