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President Donald Trump is showing that it’s possible to preside over a period of peace and prosperity and still be notably unpopular.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

During the past several months, Trump has opened even more of a wedge between the largely benign material conditions in the country and his own political standing, which is precarious and appears to be sliding backward. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work.

Republican politicos believed, reasonably enough, that last year’s tax cuts would stoke growth and create a good-news backdrop for Republicans in the midterms.

The substantive part of this theory has worked swimmingly, with headlines just over the past week about middle-class incomes increasing over $61,000 for the first time, blue-collar jobs growing at their fastest clip in 30 years, and small-business confidence reaching an all-time high.

The only flaw is that the drumbeat of good news has coincided, lately, with a drop in Trump’s numbers. In much of the recent polling, he’s dipped back under 40 percent.

He hasn’t done this with any spectacular misstep. What Trump has done, predictably, week after week, is mess up the easy stuff.

It’s not hard — through gritted teeth and insincerely, if necessary — to say the appropriate things about an American hero upon his passing.

It’s not hard to limit your tweets on the morning of Sept. 11, for just a few hours, to the topic of the anniversary of the attacks and leave commentary on a recorded cable TV show for some other time.

It’s not hard to avoid attacking your own attorney general in public, in an escalating fashion meant to inflict the greatest possible humiliation.

It’s not hard to avoid throwing around the word “TREASON” loosely or to muse about changing the libel laws to exact legislation retribution on your critics.

Granted, it’s harder to build a cohesive White House team, but it ought to be easy to exclude volatile C-list stars from your old reality show and generate enough coherence to stem nonstop self-serving, backbiting leaks (let alone attacks on you in anonymous op-eds).

Any president grapples with the fact that he can’t control events; Trump grapples with the fact that he can’t control himself. He has dispensed with, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, the decent drapery of the American presidency, the norms devoted to investing the holder of the office — whether he deserves it or not — with a certain majesty.

Trump just lets it all hang out. This is gratifying to his core supporters, even as it creates a wearisome cycle of ceaseless controversies.

It’s not as though any one thing — the Stormy Daniels affair, the Cohen plea deal, the security-clearance controversy, the Omarosa book, etc., etc. — is as consequential as it’s portrayed in any given news cycle, but one damn thing after another adds up.

Trump has an amazing ability, through the force of his personality and his mediagenic provocations, to blot out the sun. He wouldn’t be president without this quality. It’s just that, given the positive state of the country, less blotting and more sun are called for.

Some caveats: Presidential popularity means something different in the age of Trump. He won election in 2016 with a favorable rating below 40 percent in many polls, so a return to that level may be less debilitating for him than prior presidents.

It’s not as though he’s creating controversies in an otherwise placid environment. He is confronted with an inflamed opposition, an extremely hostile press corps and a wide-ranging, aggressive special counsel investigation.

Finally, it is still possible that garden-variety Republicans will find a way to distinguish themselves from Trump this year.

All that said, we might be at the peak of the business cycle, and yet the president who is presiding over the good times — and signed the tax package that has boosted the recovery further — isn’t enjoying their full political benefit.

An economic boom is a terrible thing to waste.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(11) comments

Rick Czeczok

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA notice that the "gang of 6" have no one to argue with anymore, so they just bobble head with each other. Such a group of losers.

capedcrusader

What do you mean? Is this you "making nice again"?

johnnybragatti

Everyone likes money , to perhaps pay bills.
We just don"t like to steal it ,like you and 1% s do.
You must never tell the truth, if you"re a zero without a cause.

Rick Czeczok

Only the democrats would complain about people making more money and keeping more of what they earn. Look "the gang of six" says they don't like money, now that is the only lie here. Now go.....

Cassandra2

Facts don't seem to matter to our comrade Zerocock. People aren't making more money in terms of real dollars. In fact, buying power for workers and the middle class is shrinking. And now we'll face a new "backdoor tax" in the form of higher prices for consumer goods made in China, due to Trump's foolhardy trade war. The only people who are keeping more of what they "earn" are the ultra wealthy who got a massive republican tax break that is exploding the deficit.

Cassandra2

The "economic boom" is a myth, except to those at the very top of the economic pyramid. Wages are stagnant or falling in terms of buying power. Economists are sounding the alarm that another crash created by republican economic policy is on the horizon. And yet republicans continue to pursue policies that move wealth forever upward.

capedcrusader

Respect is earned and Trump hasn't earned any a day in his life. We don't need to drain any swamp, we need to drain the Trump cesspool.

johnnybragatti

Spot on Home ...Trump"s got more missteps than any pres. in history and gave everyone from Wall Street a job in his cabinet and White House., while tripling the size of the "swamp".
Lowry doesn"s seem to have all his marbles in check, when it comes to Trump., as he gets more swamped everyday.

oldhomey

OMG! I couldn't even finish reading this latest effort by Mr. Lowry. Once again, he itemizes very effectively just how awful President Trump is, and then bemoans the fact Trump isn't getting the respect he deserves. Mr. Lowry tells us of all the missteps by Trump that "He hasn’t done this with any spectacular misstep . . . " If any Democratic leader had been guilty of any one, single misstep of dozens that Trump has taken in just the last month, it would be fodder of outraged multiple columns by Mr. Lowry.

Jobaba

Yes

martian2

you got that right oldhomey! Lowry says Trump won the election with less than 40% approval rating. Fact is he did not win the general election, he won in the electoral college. Perhaps the public is aware of the ballooning deficit during these economic good times. Something that defies logic or history, and something that no republican dare talk or even whisper about.

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