- - Monday, September 3, 2018


As a conservative, the mere thought of the now-socialist Democrats capturing control of Congress gives me a migraine. Republicans on the Hill can put some of the blame on the president but much is theirs too.

Democrats and the press have painted Donald Trump as illegitimate, irredeemably corrupt and pursuing an inherently evil agenda — anti-poor, anti-women, anti-whatever works.

It would be tough enough to overcome the Access Hollywood tape, entanglements with Stormy Daniels and other past transgressions by leading an exemplary presidential life but he hasn’t. Inauthentic denials, irrational outbursts on Twitter and stubborn behavior do not offer the impression of a high achiever repenting past debauchery.

He consistently confuses strong evidence of Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections with accusations that his campaign colluded with the Kremlin. The first is clearly true but the second likely not — if special counsel Robert Mueller has something on him, we’d know it by now. By conflating those issues, he fails to demonstrate the acumen and rhetorical skills necessary to fulfill his presidential duties.

By permitting the Koch Brothers and Walmart to block Ways and Means Chairman Brady’s plan to apply the corporate tax to imports and rebate it on exports, he denied the Treasury of $120 billion in annual revenues. Those could have been used to lower marginal rates enough to avoid sticking middle-class families with higher income taxes now that state and local tax deductions are capped.

Republican congressmen from California and other high SALT states now face a tougher time defending their seats. With the Democrats needing to pick up only 23 to win the House, those districts could prove the difference.

The botched separation of minor children from adult immigrants charged with illegal entry — and President Trump’s insistence on a border wall even though supporters near Mexico believe the resources would be better spent on high-tech surveillance — hardly paint him a compassionate, clear thinking executive.

For all of Mr. Trump’s bellicose claims, Chinese President Xi Jinping has managed to bicycle U.S. trade negotiators for 19 months, impose considerable pain on American farmers and galvanize the CEOs of America’s largest corporations against his tariffs.

House Republicans are banking on a strong economy to create a red wave but a record number of Democrats are out fundraising their opponents. They are on the attack with broadsides on abortion, gun control and the alleged abuses of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those are tough, complex issues but on each, Democrats are fashioning themselves as the party of high morality and Republicans as miscreants.

Polls show Americans consistently support a woman’s right to an abortion but want it reasonably regulated. And over the years state legislation has emerged, which U.S> Supreme Court findings have enabled, that recognize new technologies have pushed back the viability of the fetus to before Roe v. Wade’s end of the second trimester.

When was the last time you heard a prominent Republican engage moderate women by framing the issue in those terms — in ways voters in contested congressional districts could support?

Democrats are leaning to gun control because the polls show it works.

Last March, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb won a special election in a Pennsylvania district Mr. Trump carried by 20 points by eschewing support for Nancy Pelosi but with TV ads advocating background checks for gun purchases. Some Democrats on the Hill are sporting “F” pins to boast their NRA rating.

Making speeches about Second Amendment rights at NRA and CPAC when Americans see gun control, as they do abortion, not in absolute terms but as a more complex issue doesn’t help to create an enduring Republican majority.

Finally, Americans when polled say they won’t vote for a woman or minority candidate for reasons of gender or race. However, the point to convict hysteria that destroys men’s lives at universities and in the media and business, and the mob culture that labels as “divisive” commentators who raise discomforting questions about culture and the economic isolation of minorities, is sadly reminiscent of 1930s persecutions — evil movements American white males valiantly sacrificed to crush. We hear little from the GOP about this.

Overall, congressional Republicans are flummoxed and lack leadership and a coherent narrative.

This abused professor is putting up a generous supply of Excedrin to distribute to friends the morning of Nov. 7.

• Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.

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