I confess I do not understand columns like this from the intelligent if not-always-reliable John Harwood.

"Congressional Republicans stepping away from President Trump" is constant and professional Washington access-journalist make-believe. "Congressional Republicans think Trump is a nut but are terrified to cross him because they fear a primary challenge" has been reality since January 21, 2017 and is still reality today.

The 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate and the 40-member Tea Party caucus in the House opposed on principle to governing meant and mean that, absent Reconciliation, any legislation required the approval of Ryan, Pelosi, McConnell, and Schumer before January 4—or at least their willingness to not make opposition a matter for caucus discipline—and requires the approval of Pelosi, McConnell, and Schumer today.

Trump's role with respect to Republican House Members and Senators was and is the same as Putin's role with respect to Trump: in each case, the first party has the second party on a leash because the second party knows that the first party, if enraged, could destroy their career. But because that threat can only be used once and has power only as long as it is not used, the leash is a long one:

John Harwood: Republican Leaders Are Breaking with Trump on Border Wall: "That soft, shuffling sound you hear is Congressional Republicans stepping away from President Trump.... GOP leaders signaled clearly that they, like Congressional Democrats, will no longer play border-wall make-believe with President Trump.... GOP leaders always understood that pledge as fanciful, even as they cautiously avoided saying so out loud. Last December, when Trump changed his mind and chose a government shutdown over a bipartisan spending compromise, they reluctantly went along. But 35 days of political pain, ending with Trump's initial surrender last month, changed their calculations.... The Democratic takeover of the House fundamentally altered Washington's power equation...


#noted

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