Charles Vignola: The closer or the loser?


In the latest Gallup poll, President Trump’s approval rating has plunged to an abysmal 35 percent. For the record, that’s a nadir in polling that President Obama never reached, nor President Clinton – even during the height of his impeachment troubles.

President Bush only reached it after more than five years of non-stop blunders.

In fact, a presidential approval rating that low is usually associated with things like wars or recessions or epic scandals like Watergate, none of which Trump is dealing with … yet.

At this point, only the most die-hard Trump sycophants are still sticking with this guy, the ones Trump was referring to when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose his supporters.

If they didn’t jump off the train after his repugnant “grab ‘em by the p—y” debacle, they’re certainly not ready to jump off yet.

With disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn looking for an immunity deal to sing to the Senate about the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin, one might think Trump’s fans would be a little concerned about where all of this Russian smoke is going to lead.

But since Trump’s most devoted supporters trust him with the same intensity that Scientologists trust L. Ron Hubbard, they seem to agree with him that all of these strange and mounting connections between Trumpworld and Moscow are just a “witch hunt,” so much “fake news” to distract from what a great job Trump is really doing.

Now, what that “great job” might be describing is anyone’s guess. I suppose if your deep desire was to deepen the rifts within the Republican Party itself, grant even more power and influence to Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, and see Washington suffer more chaos, confusion and gridlock than ever before, then you’d be getting your money’s worth.

But other than the myriad executive orders Trump has issued – a strategy Republicans condemned when it was Obama signing the orders – Trump’s first 70-plus days in office have been an unrelenting miasma of legislative blunders, budding scandals, bald-faced lies and shattered campaign promises.

Take the dynamic duo of his two biggest disasters to date: enacting a Muslim travel ban and repealing Obamacare.

After sowing Islamophobia for over a year during his campaign and vowing a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Trump’s ham-fisted efforts to enact such a ban have been a parade of amateur hour screw-ups that have twice been rebuked by the courts.

It looks like this disgraceful and un-American idea is now indefinitely on hold.

The failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare is a masterclass on how not to get things done, but it’s all the more remarkable for showing us much earlier than anyone could have imagined that the Emperor truly has no clothes.

The biggest selling point Trump had going for him was the carefully curated illusion that he was some Jedi master of negotiation, the guy who could cut through the BS and craft the best deals in the world.

After decades of using these amazing abilities to make himself filthy rich (at a level he refuses to confirm by releasing his tax returns), he was now going to deploy those weapons of magical negotiation on behalf of America.

Turns out those much-vaunted skills included a startling lack of patience and one basic move: take it or leave it. Needless to say, ultimatums aren’t exactly the most sophisticated of techniques.

Problem is it was a bluff, a game of chicken with the far right Freedom Caucus – and the Freedom Caucus played the game better than Trump did: it forced him right off the road and handed him a humiliating loss on one of his biggest campaign promises.

What’s truly astounding is that Trump isn’t even a good bully, since he totally blew the first rule of successful bullying: never try to intimidate someone who’s equal to you in power.

Trump still seems to be laboring under the delusion that he’s a king or something, rather than being a co-equal branch of government to the Congress. The Freedom Caucus, formerly Obama’s bane, is now a reliable thorn in Trump’s side.

And now that Trump’s bullying strategy has failed this early on, revealing him to be a paper tiger who can’t even intimidate his own party, everyone in Washington now knows that his mouth is writing checks his legislative acumen can’t cash.

Trump’s been outmaneuvered and will continue to be, since it’s comically evident he doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s doing, nor the temperament or focus to figure it out. He really thought running the government would be no more difficult than being the CEO of his own company, and he’s learning the hard way that’s exactly how D.C. doesn’t work.

Prior to these legislative defeats, Trump’s supporters crowed about him being “The Closer.” Drop the letter “C” and you get a much more accurate appraisal of what he’s turned out to be.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

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