A lot of weird stuff happened over the past seven days in American politics that might make President Trump’s party skeptical of him. The Trump administration provoked a minor international incident with the United Kingdom by accusing its surveillance agency of complicity in an illegal scheme to subject Trump’s campaign to surveillance. The directors of the FBI and the National Security Agency, plus the chairs of the congressional intelligence committees, rebuked the president for lying about these surveillance issues. Trump also provoked a minor international incident with Germany by accusing Angela Merkel’s government of being somehow in debt to NATO.
Somewhat separately, the FBI confirmed the existence of an open counterintelligence investigation dealing with members of Trump’s campaign. And they confirmed, of course, that Russia interfered in the 2016 election campaign in hopes of electing Donald Trump president, perhaps realizing that he’d be likely to provoke unnecessary fights with key American allies.
Yet for all that, Trump continues to enjoy the overwhelming support of the institutional Republican Party and the American conservative movement, and this quote obtained by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker explains why:
“All that really matters this week is Gorsuch moving forward and the House passing step one of Obamacare repeal,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who works for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “All the rest is noise.”
Trump is delivering, fundamentally, what the business community wants: a light regulatory touch, a business-friendly Supreme Court, and progress toward a big tax cut. Gun rights enthusiasts, abortion opponents, and other key Republican-aligned interest groups can say the same. Some of Trump’s antics may be counterproductive to their goals, others may be helpful — putting a populist gloss on a fundamentally business-oriented agenda — but it’s always the case that Trump in power is better than the alternative.
That means turning a blind eye to Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, erratic behavior, and dishonesty while accepting his various doses of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism as the electioneering gambits that deliver the goods. It’s a bit of a dishonorable bargain, and it runs the risk of ending in some kind of massive war or other catastrophe. But from the standpoint of the Republican establishment and the business community, it’s not a crazy calculation.