The New York Times reports today that as Election Day nears, and the pressure builds, Donald Trump is throwing out all kinds of different ideas “to see what sticks.”
In the last days before a midterm congressional election that will determine the future of his presidency, Mr. Trump seems to be throwing almost anything he can think of against the wall to see what might stick, no matter how untethered from political or legal reality. Frustrated that other topics – like last week’s spate of mail bombs – came to dominate the news, the president has sought to seize back the national stage in the last stretch of the campaign.
Ad hoc though they may be, Mr. Trump’s red-meat ideas have come to shape the conversation and, he hopes, may galvanize otherwise complacent conservative voters to turn out on Tuesday.
One possible line of criticism about such an approach is that it appears to be a scattershot approach to governing, reflecting a not-so-subtle degree of desperation. The president, lacking focus and discipline, and campaigning without a serious record of accomplishments, keeps throwing out random, impulsive ideas because he seems to think he has no other choice.
But that’s not the most bothersome aspect of the strategy. Rather, the most alarming problem with Trump’s furious series of 11th-hour pitches is what they all have in common: they’re not real.
Trump talked up a new tax cut, which he said would be unveiled by today, but which only existed in his imagination.
He’s pushed an anti-immigration executive order to effectively rewrite part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, but most legal experts – including many Republicans – consider the idea ridiculous.
Even the president’s new policy on the cost of prescription medication – a policy Trump described as “revolutionary” – is likely to do far less than the White House likes to pretend.
I don’t really blame Trump for scrambling, throwing out a bunch of new ideas, hoping some of them resonate with the electorate. His actual agenda isn’t popular, his Republican Party is facing some political headwinds, so it stands to reason the president is going to try out some new material as voters get ready to cast their ballots.
I do blame Trump, however, for peddling an agenda that’s little more than a mirage.