Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Tuesday said nice things about Donald Trump in front of a crowd that wanted her to commit to impeach him. She had the audacity to claim that Trump “can be a good president” if he’s willing to “learn and change.”
Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan took to Twitter to praise Feinstein:
Whether you think yes or no she was brave to say this. And people can see bravery.
Put aside Feinstein’s inevitable “dialing back” of her message. Imagine, instead, what it would be like for your typical Democratic senator to say nice things about President Trump. Such a result might include most, if not all, of the following elements:
Health care capitulation
Democrats have been sitting on the sidelines throughout the entire repeal-and-replace debacle.
Now that Obamacare is in no danger of being either repealed or replaced, the opportunity exists for Trump to reach across the aisle and ask for help. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is on record as saying that he’s willing to help fix the Affordable Care Act if repeal is off the table.
And Trump did make rhetorical overtures to bipartisan accomplishment in his speech to a joint session of Congress. Should Trump actually put that rhetoric into action, it might persuade a few other Democratic senators to reevaluate the typical Democratic contempt for Trump.
The return of pre-President Trump
Early in the primaries, Jeb Bush tried to make hay of the fact that Trump is both a recent and a reluctant convert to conservatism, and he put together an Internet video that had Trump announcing his unconditional support for abortion on demand, his respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, and his admission that his New York roots made him far more of a Democrat than a Republican.
Trump also called for substantially higher taxes and even praised single-payer health care in the first 2015 Republican debate!
Trump has never officially repudiated any of these positions. So if he continues to pick fights with Republicans and conservatives, and were instead to return his roots, he’d make Feinstein and others very happy indeed.
Advance payment from Mexico
Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall always included an assurance that Mexico would pay for it. But how can you force a sovereign nation to pay for something you want, but they don’t?
No amount of cajoling or shaming or threatening will persuade Mexico to pay for Trump’s wall. So now Trump is talking about Mexico “reimbursing” America for the wall they don’t want.
There’s an opportunity for Trump to both talk tough and accept defeat by saying that he won’t build the wall unless Mexico pays in advance. That way, he refuses to charge American taxpayers for something that “ought” – in the Trumpian world-view – to be a Mexican expense.
Trump could therefore continue the exercise in futility of trying to get Mexico to cough up the dough, satisfy Democrats (and many Republicans) who don’t want anyone to pay for or have such a wall built in the first place.
Of course, no Democrats would publicly praise Trump for this posture, were he to take it. But pretty much everyone would be able to see through the ruse. And it might earn the president some silent respect from the other side of the aisle.
Will Rogers once said that funerals are the times where people say all the nice things they wouldn’t say to your face when you were alive.
But Trump doesn’t have to die to get Democrats to say something nice: All he has to do is to die, politically speaking. Voluntarily stepping aside by saying he had better and more important things to do, Democrats would fall all over themselves to say nice things about the “statesmanship” of the Donald.
All of these things are unlikely to happen. And while that may be good news for Trump supporters, it probably means the end of nice comments – including the “brave” comment above – from senators like Dianne Feinstein.