Feb 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, the luckiest man

Trump at a rally

President Trump at a New Hampshire rally on Monday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump is capitalizing on three years of political, economic and global trends that have exceeded forecasts. He has also benefited from a run of extraordinary good luck.

Why it matters: Trump’s top advisers privately marvel at how he flirts with disaster only to catch a big break, whether it's the Iranians botching their response to his military attack or Democrats embarrassing themselves in Iowa on impeachment eve.

Trump started the year by killing Iran's top military leader, Qasem Soleimani, in a move — resisted by previous presidents — that imperiled U.S. troops in the Middle East and could have provoked war with Iran.

  • Instead, Iranians shot down a civilian airliner and lied about it clumsily, undercutting the regime at home and on the world stage.
  • On Feb. 6, Trump said the U.S. had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the al-Qaeda leader in Yemen.
  • Trump signed the "Phase 1" trade deal with China, and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaces NAFTA.
  • The economic and employment recovery, which the Obama administration set in motion after the 2008 collapse, built enough steam to allow Trump to build on the gains and take credit.
  • Democrats are on the defensive after Trump's impeachment acquittal and Iowa debacle.
  • A democratic socialist — Sen. Bernie Sanders — is surging in the race, causing the establishment to flip out. The fracturing field could mean a long fight that would put the eventual nominee in an even deeper hole against the incumbent's machine.
  • Some economists think that post-coronavirus, a recovery wave will push an economic surge closer to the election.

The bottom line: Trump is enjoying the same lucky breaks in politics that he enjoyed in birth and business.

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