Ever since President Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the message from the left has been “resist.”
His inauguration weekend was marred by protests; some peaceful, others violent. There was the Women’s March, March for Science, Tax March, People’s Climate March, March for Truth, and an Impeachment March. Not to mention Antifa’s holy war against newspaper racks and Starbucks windows.
Democrats resisted him in Washington, New York City, Mar-a-Lago, and pretty much everywhere else he showed his orange face. Above the White House, they hung a resist banner from a crane and floated a giant Trump chicken nearby.
Strangely, none of these changed the fact that Trump is still president of the United States.
After a half-year-long collective primal scream, two Democratic leaders decided to try a different approach.
House and Senate minority leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer buttered up Trump in the Oval Office. Two weeks ago, they got him to support raising the debt ceiling on their terms, a much more Democrat-friendly package than the one offered by the GOP Congress.
Then last week, while other pols and celebrities screamed their faces red, Pelosi and Schumer sweet-talked Trump into backing down on his tough pose on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“We had a very productive meeting at the White House with the President,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
The White House lightly pushed back on the joint statement until the Tweeter-in-Chief gave the game away.
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” he said on Twitter. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”
Trump also revealed that his famous wall just got a few feet shorter, calling it instead a “renovation of old and existing fences and walls.” The White House legislative affairs director echoed his boss, telling CNN that Washington needs to have a serious conversation about what the definition of a “wall” even is.
As Trump’s base howled and Capitol Hill Republicans scratched their heads, Pelosi and Schumer just smiled. Wisely, these Democrats effectively abandoned the Twitter hashtag #Resist and embraced a much more effective one — #Coopt.
I’m surprised it took them this long. Trump has always been a political chameleon, but he spent much of his life as a New York Democrat. He donated thousands of dollars to Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and other leading Dems.
When Pelosi was sworn in as speaker, he sent his congratulations, writing, “Nancy — you’re the best.” Just after the election, he tweeted, “I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer.” In 2004, Trump even told an interviewer, "In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat."
Shrewd swamp denizens that they are, Pelosi and Schumer set down the protest signs, skirted the barricades and schmoozed Trump, knowing they could appeal to his center-left leanings.
As a result, the GOP majority is at sea, not knowing what language to advance on DACA — or any other legislation for that matter — since their president could again side with the Democrats right before the big vote.
Many rank-and-file Dems will continue the resistance, as we saw on the Trump-obsessed Emmys and when protesters angrily interrupted a Pelosi press conference in her hometown.
But smart Democrats will keep coopting Trump to their goals while Republicans are left out in the cold.