By Robert Reich
With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, it’s unlikely Trump will be impeached or thrown out of office on grounds of mental impairment. At least any time soon.
Yet there’s another way Trump can be effectively removed. He can be made irrelevant.
It’s already starting to happen. The howling manchild who occupies the Oval Office is being cut off and contained.
Trump no longer has a working majority in the Senate because several Senate Republicans have decided the hell with him.
Three Republican Senators voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, dooming his effort. Almost all voted to restrict his authority over Russian sanctions.
They’re also pushing forward with their own inquiry into Trump’s Russian connections. Republican senators Thom Tillis and Lindsay Graham have even joined Democrats in introducing legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.
Republicans in the House won’t fund his wall. Many refuse to increase the national debt in order to pay for his promised tax cuts.
After Charlottesville, many more are willing to criticize him publicly. Last week Tennessee’s Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, even questioned Trump’s “stability” and “competence,” saying Trump hasn’t shown he understands “the character of this nation” and that without that understanding, “Our nation is going to go through great peril.”
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz reports that GOP leaders are “personally wrestling with the trade-offs of making a cleaner separation with the president.”
It helps that Republican patrons in big business are deserting Trump in droves. Last week, CEOs bolted his advisory councils. Many issued sharp rebukes of Trump.
These are the people who raise big bucks for the GOP. Their dumping Trump makes it easier for elected Republicans to do so, too.
Even James Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox CEO whose media outlets include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Post – among the loudest mouthpieces for Trump – is ditching him.
Last Thursday Murdoch wrote “what we watched last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the president of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people,” and pledged $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.
This doesn’t mean Fox News or the Wall Street Jounal will call for Trump’s ouster. It does mean their commentators and editorial writers now have clear license to criticize him.
Hey, America as a whole is abandoning him. Trump’s approval hit an all-time low of 34 percent last week.
Even parts of his base are dropping him. A new News/Marist poll shows his approvals have fallen below 40 percent in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three states that were key to his election, which he won by a whisker.
Inside the administration, there are moves to contain and isolate the manchild.
On foreign policy, the Axis of Adults – Chief of staff General John Kelly, national security advisor General H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – are asserting tighter control, especially after Trump’s tweetstorm over North Korea.
Reportedly, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are stepping up attempts to constrain him as well.
“You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill,” another White House aide told Axios’s Mike Allen.
Plus, Stephen Bannon is gone.
All this means that, although Trump will still hold the title of President, he’s on the way to being effectively removed from the presidency. Neutered. Defanged.
We’re not out of danger. Trump will continue to rant and fume. He’ll insult. He’ll stoke racial tensions. He could still start a nuclear war.
But, hopefully, he won’t be able to exercise much presidential power from here on. He’s being ostracized like a obnoxious adolescent who’s been grounded.
When the media stop reporting his tweets, his isolation and irrelevance will be complete.