The marriage of Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party was always in need of counseling.
The billionaire New Yorker was never a natural fit for the GOP, apart from his hatred of Barack Obama. And much of the party recoiled at the populism and anti-Establishment rhetoric that drove hundreds of thousands to Trump’s rallies. The forced attempts at post-campaign reconciliation were hardly convincing; the pairing made little sense outside the lens of mutual benefit and exploitation. It was like watching a reality show where it’s obvious no one much cares for the fellow cast mates.
As Trump’s approaches his 100th day in power, both the President and the party are plenty frustrated with one another. Members of Congress have watched with horror as Trump thrashed about in Washington with little predictability, guided by top aides with little experience in the trenches of government. Staffers with decades of Hill experience find themselves sidelined by political neophytes who think barking orders can get Congress to act. More than once, White House officials have told Paul Ryan that his role as Speaker may be in jeopardy if he does not do more to help Trump.
“It’s Jekyll and Hyde with this guy,” one Ryan adviser says of the President. “But we’re talking about him, so that must mean he’s winning.”
Indeed, even as a government shutdown loomed this week, Trump was still demanding that House Republicans take up the repeal of Obamacare. There are no indications that the GOP has the votes to get it done, and House leadership has tried to steer Trump away from calling for an immediate vote. Trump hasn’t quite come to understand the limits of his power. (Consider: he wants to dissolve the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because its judges have delivered Trump legal setbacks.)
As the President flounders, few Republicans on Capitol Hill are rushing to help him. The entire House faces re-election in 2018, and a third of the Senate is in re-election mode. There’s no predicting how Trump’s anemic poll numbers may drag down specific lawmakers, and Democrats are already laying the groundwork to make Trump the face of the Republican Party—even against sober…