The good news is, Donald Trump, preoccupied for nine months with ridiculous lies about his election defeat, is starting to focus at least some of his attention on something new. The bad news is, the former president's new interest is far from constructive.
Politico reports that Trump is now trying to "sabotage" the bipartisan infrastructure deal pending on Capitol Hill.
Donald Trump tried and failed to pass an infrastructure bill so many times over the course of his presidency that his attempts were reduced to a punchline. Now out of office, Trump is trying to ensure that his successor, Joe Biden, suffers the indignity of the "infrastructure week" jokes as well.
The report added that some Senate Republicans have even asked the former president directly "not just to tone down his criticism but to actually support the infrastructure deal." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) apparently tried to pitch Trump on the idea, emphasizing that the GOP's 2017 tax breaks remain intact as a result of the negotiations.
Obviously, this did not persuade the former president.
Broadly speaking, I think there are three relevant angles to keep in mind: (1) what Trump is doing; (2) why he's doing it; and (3) whether his "sabotage" efforts will succeed.
Yesterday, Trump issued his most agitated statement to date, condemning the bipartisan agreement -- which, in true post-policy fashion, he appears to know nothing about -- and threatening primary campaigns against those who support it.
The motivations behind the tactics are hardly subtle. Trump failed spectacularly to reach an agreement on infrastructure during his own failed tenure, due entirely to his own misguided tactics: the then-president told congressional Democrats he'd only work on infrastructure if they agreed to stop investigating his many scandals. Dems balked and Trump pulled the plug on the endeavor.
Two years later, the Republican appears to have settled on a new idea: if he couldn't have an infrastructure deal, President Biden shouldn't get one, either.
The former president's pitch to the GOP doesn't bother with governing pretenses, and focuses entirely on electoral considerations. Earlier this week, Trump said if GOP senators reach a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, it will mean "a big and beautiful win" for people Trump doesn't like. Ergo, Republicans should defeat any compromises.
He added yesterday, "This will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election."
In other words, successful governing might benefit the incumbent president, so as far as Trump is concerned, Republicans must stand in the way of successful governing, no matter the consequences.
For now, however, GOP senators appear largely indifferent to the orders being barked from Bedminster. When the bipartisan agreement reached the Senate floor yesterday afternoon for a key procedural vote, it received 17 Republican votes, suggesting much of the GOP conference is indifferent, at least in the short term, to the former president's whining.
If recent history is any guide, this will likely encourage Trump to whine more often and at a higher volume.
Update: Right on cue, the former president threw another tantrum this morning, attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and much of his conference. "RINOs are ruining America, right alongside Communist Democrats," Trump's unhinged statement concluded.