December 15th, 2018


They Can't Win Unless the President Loses

 Bernard Goldberg

By Bernard Goldberg

Published Jan. 2, 2017

They Can't Win Unless the President Loses

You know things are bad when the supposedly "loyal opposition" has morphed into the "resistance" and has become way too heavily invested in the president's failure.

Democrats say no matter what they suspect, they really and truly hope there was no collusion between the President of the United States and the Russians because that would be a terrible thing for our country.

Translation: We Democrats, especially we progressive Democrats, hope and pray that there actually was collusion because then we can finally get rid of this embarrassment who should never have been elected in the first place.

Democrats say they hope President Trump won't fire special counsel Robert Mueller because that would create a constitutional crisis.

In English that means they hope and pray that he does fire Mueller because then they can impeach him on grounds of obstruction of justice.

Democrats say the new tax law will hurt the middle class; that it will, in the words of Nancy Pelosi, bring on Armageddon.

But that's exactly what Ms. Pelosi and her merry band of progressives are hoping, because Armageddon would lead to a blue wave next November that sweeps Democrats into a majority in Congress.

Rush Limbaugh took a lot of flak for saying, "I hope he fails" as President Obama was about to take office. Rush was intentionally provocative because he understood that provocative plays well in the talk radio business. Democrats are more nuanced – and more dishonest. They won't say they hope Donald Trump fails, but they're hoping he fails.

Politics, they figure, is a zero sum game. They can't win unless President Trump loses.

There was a time when the economy would save a president, no matter what. James Carville put it elegantly when he said, "It's the economy, stupid." But it may not be that simple in the age of Trump.

Since he became president, the economy has been booming. Consumer confidence has hit a 17- year high and unemployment has hit a 17-year low. Despite that, more Americans disapprove of the job he's doing than approve.

That may be because it's not just the economy, stupid anymore. Now it's also about values. And the American people – his loyal base, of course, excluded — don't especially like this president's values. They don't like that he lives in a "dark and deeply personal pool of feuds and fulminations," as Dan Henninger put it in his Wall Street Journal column.

Karl Rove, the wise GOP political guru, says Republicans should urge Mr. Trump to stay off the campaign trail leading up to the midterm elections; his unpopularity is likely to rub off on candidates he's trying to help. He's right. Donald Trump has the worst ratings in his first year of any president in the modern era. He would be an albatross around the neck of a lot of Republican candidates.

So here's some free advice in the New Year for our president: Stop appealing to your base. You had them at Hello, I'm the great Donald Trump and I'm here to give the middle finger to everyone you hate. Yes, they give you the approval you crave; their cheers are your oxygen. But they also enable you to say and do things that turn off most other Americans. The base may love your divisive rhetoric and your needless battles. Most Americans don't.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds that 50 percent of voters want Democrats to lead Congress after the midterms; only 39 percent prefer Republicans. And the Democratic lead got bigger since a similar poll in October.

But, November is a long way off. So anything is possible. Maybe President Trump will stop the shenanigans that divide Americans. Maybe he'll stop responding to every slight. Maybe he'll knock off using Twitter to settle scores. Maybe he'll take the high road for a change.

And while we're at it, maybe progressives will stop praying for impeachment long enough to hope that the economy under President Trump actually gets even stronger. Maybe they'll hope that still more people find good jobs and that the new tax law really does help American workers.

Before I go, I have a confession to make. Despite the byline, Bernard Goldberg didn't write this column. I knocked him over the head and hijacked his computer. My name is Pollyanna.

Happy New Year!

JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of several bestselling books, among them, Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news. He is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. Mr. Goldberg covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He now reports for the widely acclaimed HBO broadcast Real Sports.

He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of