This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to write and admit.
Donald Trump is winning. In the brief space of a week he won a brief court fight to shove Mick Mulvaney to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney wasted no time in unhinging a spate of consumer protection rulings, regulations and personnel hires made during the Obama administration.
Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, eagerly cast a vote to impose the Muslim travel ban.
His Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt delivered a couple of million acres of public monument land in the west to oil, gas and coal industry developers. Trump busily continues to pack the federal judiciary with a parade of ultra-conservative, clones to strict constructionist Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
The first loss his administration has faced came Dec. 12 when Alabama judge Roy Moore lost his Alabama Senate race.
He got another sweet perk when Senate Democrats turned with a vengeance on Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and virtually ordered him out of office. His subsequent resignation got rid of a pesky thorn for Trump. Franken had a big voice, lots of name recognition and popularity and was not afraid to take shots at Trump.
Trump pooh-poohed the guilty plea of his former National Security Advisor Mike T. Flynn as no big deal while shouting “no collusion, no collusion” and got away with it.
He got his tax heist for the rich and corporations through the Senate and, as an extra bonus, brought his long-held dream of dumping the Affordable Care Act closer to reality when the Senate tacked on the provision to the bill wiping out the mandate requirement.
When the markets took another tick up, he crowed even louder that he was the man who brought the good times rolling to America. As always, he did all this with the sheepish connivance of much of the mainstream media, which is always off to the races in giving round-the-clock coverage to his self-serving, vapid tweets as if they were the word from the mount.
Trump’s biggest wins so far though have come on three fronts.
One is the Republican Party. It can rail and curse at him publicly and privately, but it needs Trump. He is more than the titular head of the party. He is the point man for GOP policy and issues. And, in a perverse way, the spur to get action on them.
The second front he’s winning on is the continuing love fest that his devout base has with him. While polls show that his overall approval ratings consistently wallow under 40 percent, buried in the polling fine print are the numbers that mean the most to him and the GOP. The overwhelming majority of Republican voters still back him.
Even though his approval rating has dropped among white males without a college degree and Christian evangelicals, polls show that he still gets majority approval from them. These are the voters that the GOP will need Trump to rev up in the key swing districts in 2018.
The third winning front for Trump is his perennial ace in the hole: the media. He remains a ratings cash cow for the networks and makes stunning copy for the print media. He knew that from day one of his presidential bid and he knows it even more now.
He will continue to suck the media air out of everything that the Democrats do and try to do. Take his phony war with the NFL owners over the national anthem protest by a handful of black players. A couple of tweets from him knocking the owners for alleging caving into the players was more than enough to distract from his bumbling, inept and dangerous handling of the North Korea nuclear threat, and his clueless saber rattling at Iran over the nuclear curtailment pact with the U.S.
This has been his patent ploy: distract and deflect. The public and networks take the bait every time. Other than the New York Times and other liberal print publications, there is no real sobering, in-depth discussion of the dangerous and destructive consequences of his administration’s policies.
But those publications are anathema to Trump devotees in the heartland and the South anyway. So, the withering criticism of Trump in those publications is tantamount to a wolf howling in the wind.
During the campaign, Trump loved to shout to his adoring throngs that with him in the Oval Office they would win so much, they would get tired of winning. The giveaways to the rich, the gut of Obamacare, and the upcoming whittling away of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security is hardly winning for many of his backers. They benefit from these programs and won’t get a dime’s more relief in their tax bill. But for Trump so far, this has been a win-win, sad though it is to admit it.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is “The Trump Challenge to Black America” (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.