Who would have guessed that almost former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and fired FBI director James B. Comey have something in common. They both made decisions during the 2016 presidential campaign based on the assumption that Trump was going to lose.
Comey confessed to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he went public with his decision to revisit the investigation into the former secretary of state’s emails at the campaign’s end because “I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. . . . That she’s going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out.”
And Ryan spent 2016 getting ready for a post-Trump Republican Party cleanup operation. Even Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, “told Ryan on Election Day that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency.” This was reported by Tim Alberta in Politico on April 12th. He said, “Ryan was prepared to give a speech soon afterward divorcing himself — and the party — from Trump once and for all.”
Comey and Ryan were not alone, all the players and pundits thought the same thing both in Washington and Wall Street. Volumes could be written describing the consequences of staying with the conventional wisdom of the pre-Trump culture.
Some believe that the reason the Republican Congress failed to repeal and replace Obamacare after January 2017 is that they were anticipating a Democratic White House for another four years. They believed that the GOP could keep voting for repeal while Hillary kept vetoing. The Republican voter base would stay happy, and they would not have to deal with the real-life results. They did not have an alternative plan.
No one knows what is in Putin’s head, but its almost certain he didn’t meddle in the election believing Trump would win. He just wanted to weaken the likely winner. He has long despised Clinton.
Most people do exactly what both Comey and Ryan did. In fact, the conventional wisdom of Washington is that the Democrats are bound to retake the House in 2018.
This forecast seems legit: a new president’s party usually loses seats in his first midterm election; Democrats are energized by opposition to a thought unpopular president; and Ryan’s retirement, along with the retirements of many other mainstream GOP House members, sends a defeatist signal.
But…at the end of a very bad week for the president where his personal lawyer’s office was raided by the FBI, his approval rating improved according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. And the Democrat’s lead on the generic congressional ballot shrank from 12 percent to 4 percent.
So remember the old adage… “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Democrats may want to keep that in mind during the midterms as well.
Credit: Washington Post