The bombshell report cleared up any doubt: Donald Trump is much worse at business than advertised—his whole fortune was more or less illicitly handed to him by his father, Fred.
However, we also learned this week that Trump is a much more effective politician than was advertised. He stuck with Brett Kavanaugh when other leaders might have walked away, and it paid off big time.
The man a lot of Americans voted for because of the fraudulent image he’d offered of himself as a successful businessman just strung together one of the most impressive weeks in political memory.
The New York Times led off the week by exposing Trump’s dependence on his old man’s fortune and concluded it with Peter Baker listing off Trump’s big wins—which included the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the sealing of “an ambitious and elusive new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico,” and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.
This broad spectrum of coverage illustrates Trump’s dramatically shifting fortunes within the span of a few days.
Of all the accomplishments, it is the rightward shift of the U.S. Supreme Court that will likely be Trump’s most enduring legacy. Indeed, many conservatives held their noses and voted for him precisely for this reason.
For years, conservatives have lamented Republican politicians who were afraid of their own shadows—who wanted to be approved and liked by the Washington elite and who went wobbly the first time their political enemies landed a sold shot.
Donald Trump, with all his faults, isn’t susceptible to this sort of intimidation. Nor is he afraid to sink to the hardball level of his enemies who cavalierly hurl words like “rape apologist” and “racist” at the most tepid of Republicans.
In fact, his insusceptibility to being shamed—even when he should be ashamed—might be his superpower.
Let’s take his unorthodox decision to begin criticizing Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at a rally in Mississippi last week. “How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember,’” he mocked. “How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ”
Few, if any, normal politicians would punch back at an alleged victim. But it seemed to work. As The Washington Post reports, “…footage of the performance was played and replayed many times over, shifting the national discussion from scrutiny of Kavanaugh’s honesty and drinking habits to doubts about Ford’s memory.”
Going back to the 2016 GOP primaries, Trump supporters have long argued that a biased liberal media and a radicalized activist left could only be contained by a Republican who was willing to fight fire with fire.
“Nice guys” like Mitt Romney, we were told, would be destroyed for sins like wanting to hire “binders full of women,” for putting a dog carrier on the roof of the family station wagon, and for giving prep-school haircuts.
Based on Kavanaugh’s successful confirmation fight, maybe the red hats who were shouting—”But he fights!”—had a point all along?
“If people look at this as an apocalyptic fight, he’s the ultimate fighter who doesn’t give up, doesn’t give in and doesn’t back down, even if there’s an avalanche of criticism and vicious, vile reactions from the other side,” counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said.
What is more, it seems likely that Trump’s doggedness rubbed off on Republican senators. Moderates like Lindsey Graham turned into fighters, and even Jeff Flake stuck with his tribe.
“As long as [Trump] was willing to go to the mat for [Kavanaugh], it fortified probably people up here, too,” explained Sen. John Thune at the end of what was indeed a pretty amazing week for the president.