President Donald Trump baffled Republican leadership on Wednesday when he spurned their proposals for raising the debt ceiling and instead decided to make a deal with Democratic leadership.
But while most Capitol Hill Republicans and conservative commentators and pundits were highly critical of the deal, a number of prominent pro-Trump media figures sided with Trump and blasted Republican leadership over the deal.
Trump sided with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a deal that tacked on a three-month suspension of the federal debt ceiling to a bill that would also include money for Hurricane Harvey relief. The deal earned scorn from Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, who were angling for a suspension of six or 18 months for the debt ceiling.
Siding with Schumer and Pelosi right in front of House Speaker Paul Ryan — who called the Democratic proposal “disgraceful” earlier in the day at a press conference — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump angered some in the GOP who believed he gave in to Democratic demands without receiving much of anything in return. One GOP aide told Axios’ Jonathan Swan that Democrats “bluffed their way into total victory” while another told Politico that Trump “handed a loaded gun to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.”
But on Lou Dobbs’ Wednesday night show on Fox Business Network, the ordeal was described as a demonstration of how “RINO” Paul Ryan is a “hapless fool of a speaker” who was taken to “the woodshed” by Trump and is not “a real Republican in any way.”
“A few thoughts now on the death of a RINO,” Dobbs began his remarks, using the acronym that stands for “Republican in name only.” “Nothing to lament here. I’m just examining politics in 2017. I’m talking about Speaker Paul Ryan, and his obsequious deference to corporate lobbyists. His unbridled hostility toward President Trump.”
“The president not only took RINO Ryan to the woodshed, but eliminated any need for any Republican to ever pretend again that Ryan is a real Republican in any way,” he continued. “Or, that any RINO has any political future after Mr. Trump simply booted the hapless fool of a speaker out of the way of those trying to get the nation’s business done.”
Dobbs then played a clip of Ryan calling the Democratic debt ceiling proposal tied to Harvey relief “unworkable,” ridiculous,” and “disgraceful” right ahead of his meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.
“I hope they don’t mean that,” Ryan said of the proposal, which was announced by Schumer and Pelosi just before the Wednesday morning meeting.
“They did mean that,” Dobbs said. “And it wasn’t so ridiculous it turns out, because within a few hours, President Trump reached a deal with the Democrats to raise the debt limit, to fund the government until mid-December, while providing funds for Harvey relief. Deal done. President Trump also clearing the way for tax reform while he was at it.”
Dobbs then asked viewers to “contrast Ryan’s inane insults, his obstinance, his subversion of” Trump to “the rhetoric of Democratic leadership of late.”
“They have calmed themselves, they have been far more conciliatory in their rhetoric over recent weeks and now Ryan is fully exposed to the nation,” Dobbs continued. “His Congress, one that has accomplished next to nothing this year, nothing in Paul Ryan’s nearly two-year tenure as speaker has been done.”
Right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich tweeted a clip of Dobbs’ commentary and said the Fox Business host “gets it.”
“Ryan exposed as weakling who can’t get deals done,” Cernovich wrote.
In The Federalist, a right-wing publication, founder and publisher Ben Domenech wrote that the deal signalled “the pivot,” which he labelled as “real” and “spectacular” in the headline, a reference to a famous joke from the hit TV show “Seinfeld.”
“Trump doesn’t like McConnell and Ryan, and never did,” a subhead read. “He likes Chuck Schumer, and knows Chuck always makes money for his partners.”
Domenech wrote: “So President Trump calls the leadership of the Republicans and Democrats into the Oval Office today for a meeting about what to do about the debt ceiling and funding the government, and he promptly does something that Washington should have expected, but didn’t because they’re locked in to bad conventional wisdom: he overruled his aides to side with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. The pivot is real, and it’s spectacular.”
And at Breitbart News, the pro-Trump right-wing outlet that once again features Steve Bannon at the helm following his departure from the White House last month, editor Joel Pollak wrote that the deal should signal to Republican leadership that the president will work with Democrats to “fulfil his campaign promises.”
“And Wednesday’s deal is a sign that he intends to follow through on that threat,” Pollak wrote. “(He clearly intended it as such: though Republican leaders also signed off on the deal, Trump specifically name-checked the Democrats in his speech in North Dakota a few hours later, pointing to the agreement as a sign that Washington was starting to work again.)”
“By working with Democrats, Trump can bypass the Republican leadership, GOP moderates, and personal foes like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ),” Pollak continued. “However, it also means that he can cobble deals together between liberal Republicans and the Democrat minority, leaving conservatives out in the cold. The only way to stop him is for Republicans to unite. By showing he can deal with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump may have found the one way of making them do so.”
On “Fox & Friends,” the Fox News morning show that routinely receives shout-outs from the president, the Wednesday meeting was described as an example of “The Art of the Deal,” which is the title of Trump’s popular first book.
“Democrats just wanted three months,” co-host Steve Doocy said. “And you know what? The president, not wanting a fight, apparently said, ‘That’s the deal I’m going to take right now because we’ve got tax reform and other stuff we have got to do right now.'”
“Good for him,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt responded. “He’s doing this for the folks that are affected by Harvey.”
The third co-host, Peter Hegseth, noted that some conservatives were upset by the deal “big time.”
“But you know what? This is a clear shot at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan: ‘Hey guys, if you can’t get things done, then, listen, I’ll go work with the Democrats … and I’ll work with the things like raising the debt ceiling, and the continuing resolution to fund the government, and [Hurricane] Irma,” he said.
“Listen, Democrats are always happy to spend your money,” he continued. “And they’re always happy to raise your debt ceiling and do those types of things. So they’re happy to come to the table. But I think it’s very strategic from this president. Clear out the underbrush of the stuff that could be contentious, that Washington likes to fight about, so you can clear the deck to fight for the stuff that really matters. Now he’s got real leverage with DACA on the Wall, which he really, really wants, and tax reform, and maybe one more shot at repeal and replace Obamacare. That’s what the president really wants. Get the other stuff out of there.”
He added that he thinks Trump and the Democratic leadership are “using each other at this moment.”
“Absolutely, but isn’t that the art of the deal?” Earhardt said. “Isn’t that what they do?”
“It’s the art of the Dems,” Doocy replied.
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