It wasn't long ago that some on the left feared that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wouldn't be nearly tough enough on Donald Trump and the Republican White House. The Democratic leader spoke publicly about areas of common ground with the incoming GOP president, and Trump was quick to return the favor, tweeting two weeks after Election Day, "I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer. He is far smarter than Harry [Reid] and has the ability to get things done."After rumors circulated that Trump told the New York Democrat that he prefers him to Republican leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Politico ran this headline: "Trump finds an unlikely partner: Chuck Schumer."That was before Trump decided to make Schumer an enemy.Earlier this month, the new president labeled the Senate Minority Leader the Democrats' "head clown." Yesterday, Trump mocked Schumer for getting emotional over the weekend in support of immigrants and refugees, and a few hours later, Trump did it again for the cameras.This morning, the president took yet another shot via Twitter.
"Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!"
Putting aside the unnerving fact that Trump appears to communicate like an intemperate 12 year old, what's unclear is what the White House hopes to achieve by ridiculing the Democrats' Senate leader.Throughout President Obama's two terms, pundits and assorted politicos routinely urged him to schmooze more with Republicans, working from the assumption that the president might get more bipartisan cooperation if he forged personal relationships with far-right GOP lawmakers determined to destroy him.The arguments were always quite silly, but they were nevertheless a Beltway favorite: presidents who enjoy genuine friendships with policymakers in the opposing party get more done.I'm curious what those pundits will say now that Trump is doing the exact opposite, forgoing schmoozing and embracing public scorn.In case the White House has forgotten, it's a 52-48 Senate and Republicans will need Democratic support to achieve many of its goals. Faced with this basic arithmetic, Trump has decided it's in his interests to target the Democratic leader with belligerence and mockery.We'll see how that works out for the West Wing.