The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘The Republican High-Water Mark’

I wrote today for Politico on Paul Ryan’s retirement as marking the beginning of the ebb of Republican power in Washington, with Congress basically already dead in the water:

In a gift for the ages, Republicans won all elected branches of the federal government in 2016. They had no reason to expect Trump to win the presidency, and, in fact, very few of them expected it. The initial ecstasy over Trump “signing their stuff” has given way to the reality that they don’t have stuff to send him….

This is the truly extraordinary aspect of the current situation. Republicans are content not to do anything else of significance in Congress this year. They passed an omnibus spending bill that was rightly denounced as a disgrace by Trump even as he signed it, and the Senate is working to confirm Trump appointees. That’s pretty much it.

They aren’t trying to wring every last ounce of what could be their waning months of unified control of Washington — for years to come. They aren’t determined to give their voters some other reasons to support them in November. They aren’t attempting to create other action in Washington besides Trump’s escalating feuds with Robert Mueller, James Comey and Stormy Daniels.

Republicans are resting on their laurels, when they don’t deserve any laurels. They are suffering from political exhaustion, when they haven’t truly exerted themselves. They are acting like they are lost in the wilderness, when they still occupy the commanding heights of American politics.

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