Feb 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Donald Trump, the luckiest man

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.

Go deeper

House passes resolution to curb Trump's war powers against Iran

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 227-186 on Wednesday in favor of a resolution that would limit President Trump's ability to direct military action against Iran without authorization from Congress.

Why it matters: It's a bipartisan rebuke of the president's foreign policy toward Iran that has now been passed in both the House and Senate. The bill, which is expected to be vetoed by Trump, was first introduced in the wake of the president's decision to order a strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, bringing the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran.

WHO official leads criticism of Trump's coronavirus response

President Trump with members of the new coronavirus task force at the White House on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ezekiel Emanuel, special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, told MSNBC Wednesday he found "most" of what President Trump said at his briefing on the novel coronavirus "incoherent."

The big picture: As the number of confirmed cases reaches 60 in the U.S., the top health professional — who was a health policy adviser in the Obama administration — is among several leading figures, in particular, Democrats, to criticize the president for his response to the outbreak.

Go deeperArrowFeb 27, 2020 - Health

Sanders insists Democrats will unite around eventual nominee

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday dismissed claims from some Democrats that it would be difficult to unite the party around him, insisting on ABC's "This Week" that the "threat" that President Trump poses will rally Democratic voters and leaders to support the eventual nominee.

What he's saying: "At the end of the day, I have known Joe Biden for a very long time. He is a decent guy. I have no doubt that if I win, Joe will be there. If Joe ends up winning, I will be there. We are going to come together and President Obama in my view — he has said this — will play a leading role in helping whoever the Democratic nominee is."