Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Al Franken. Glenn Thrush.
You would be forgiven if you’d thought President Donald Trump would be the most controversial person of 2017. Instead, it could be one of those guys — or all of them.
As 2017 nears its end, many of Trump’s enemies seem to be weak and defeated — hoisted with their own anti-Trump petard. And Trump has such people as Weinstein and Franken to thank, as he appears almost ready to scatter his enemies across the battlefield.
Weinstein, Spacey and Thrush were just a few names associated with the various sex and sexual-harassment scandals of the last few weeks. The scandals were spread across some of Trump’s biggest collective foes: Hollywood, The New York Times, Vice Media, the New Republic, and, of course, the Democrats. And the fallout continues: On Sunday, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving House member, announced he would step down as House Judiciary Committee chairman, scarred by a sexual harassment scandal.
Also on Sunday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), a product of both Hollywood and the liberal Democratic machine, said he would not resign from the Senate after groping allegations.
Franken, one of the more strident Trump enemies, explained, “I’ve let a lot of people down, and I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust.”
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The dam burst on October 5, when The New York Times exposed Weinstein as a serial sexual harasser — and perhaps more. Soon, journalists got caught up in the revelations, exposing years of abuse by liberal men in Hollywood, the media, and the Democratic fold.
The Democrats, Hollywood, and the media expected quite a different narrative by year’s end. It was supposed to go something like this: Trump enters office with no mandate and even suspicious allies in the Republican-led Congress. Russia-related investigations into election meddling and a general incompetence eventually bring Trump down. He may not even run in 2020, if he is not impeached by then. Still, Trump would be the year’s biggest controversy.
Today, Trump’s ensnared adversaries are reminders that Trump has been fortunate in fate’s choice of his enemies. While Trump often hands his political opponents fodder, they seem unable to take advantage.
“2017 was a bad year for the resistance,” said Eddie Zipperer, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, in an email to LifeZette. “The NFL tried to embarrass Trump; now their ratings are tanking. Hollywood tried to embarrass Trump; now they’re worrying who the next disgraced actor will be. The Democrats tried to play morally superior — now Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is on TV explaining why sexual harassment rules don’t apply to icons like John Conyers.”
Democrats were just sure 2017 would vindicate them in the minds of the electorate. President Trump would be bogged down in Russian-related election scandals, Democrats predicted, and his general temperament and tasteless tweets would also sink him.
And for a time, it seemed a plausible theory. Throughout 2017, things often looked bleak for Trump — even before he took his oath. Trump certainly bears scars.
There was the leaked “Trump dossier,” a dubious document created by Fusion GPS and funded by the Democrats. It alleged before the inauguration that Russians had influence over Trump’s campaign and the candidate himself.
There was also a series of raucous press confrontations. Trump’s only formal press conference was held February 16 in the East Room, after he fired former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. For weeks before and afterward, the White House press corps often tormented the administration with Russia-related queries and loaded questions about race and anti-Semitism. (The press blamed Trump’s early tone for vandalism aimed at Jewish community centers and cemeteries early in the year, but the vandals turned out to be a left-wing journalist and an Israeli teen.)
Trump changed press secretaries over the summer, letting Sean Spicer go and replacing him with Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump is on his third communications director as well, and he also switched out Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, for retired Marine Gen. John Kelly. But the president’s willingness to change staff, often portrayed as a sign of chaos, is more a sign that he will adapt to attacks.
Trump foes’ biggest victory came on November 7, when Democrats won open-seat gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia. Democrats also nearly took the majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, took the majority in a Washington state Senate special election, and held on to the New York City mayor’s office.
Republicans note that the Democrats have not won a single special election for Congress, and Virginia and New Jersey lean Democratic.
With 2017 near its end, Trump’s enemies in the media and the Democratic Party seem confused and exhausted from scandal, a bad state to be in while on the battlefield of politics.
“2017 was a bad year for the resistance. Hollywood tried to embarrass Trump; now they’re worrying who the next disgraced actor will be.”
At The New York Times, White House reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended on November 20 for hitting on young female journalists. Thrush is 50 years old and married with two children.
Liberals, celebrities and Democrats have been left in recent weeks to defend bad behavior on the part of Democratic politicians, a position they thought unlikely after months of accusing Trump of being a sexual harasser.
While celebrities and Democrats are happy to throw liberal activist and chronic sexual harasser Weinstein under the bus, Franken brings out the excuse-making in liberals.
“He’s not a predator,” said former talk-show host Chelsea Handler, on the November 17 edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
“Anyone who has met him know that is not true,” Handler continued to whine about Franken’s woes. “But he is not a predator.”
There are larger signs, though, that Trump’s Democratic foes are weaker than they seem. And money is the metric. Democrats’ fundraising numbers are anemic when they should be stellar.
Even as it prepared to win in New Jersey and Virginia, the Democratic National Committee had its worst October in 15 years, according to CNN.
The DNC raised $3.9 million in October, compared to $9.2 million raised by the Republican National Committee. The RNC ended October with $42.5 million in the bank and no debt. The DNC, meanwhile, has $5 million in cash, and $3.2 million in debt.
It’s a poor financial shape to be in before the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats hope to win the GOP-led House and Senate in congressional races.
Part of the reason could be a profound Democratic focus on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and a hope to undermine Trump with the issue. It’s a year poorly spent, says Zipperer.
“Democrats and the leftist media have spent all year trying to manufacture Trump scandals,” Zipperer said, with “the crown jewel in their effort, of course, being Trump-Russia collusion. But here we are all these months later, and still nobody has found evidence of the non-crime crime of ‘collusion.’ Not the media. Not the investigating committees.”
Trump critics can always take solace in the fact they can point to his Twitter account.
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