If history is any indication, Republicans could be in for a nasty November. The party of first-term presidents almost always loses House seats in the midterm elections — and having an especially controversial and polarizing president in the White House probably won't help Republicans.
But the GOP just might have a secret weapon working in its favor this time around. Yes, a booming economy, but that's not the ace in the hole.
Leave that to ... the Democrats!
I'm guessing Donald Trump and the Republican Party colluded with whoever called the camera shots during the president's State of the Union address. I wouldn't be shocked if it turns out he was Russian.
There she was, Nancy Pelosi, dressed in black and looking miserable, as if she were attending a funeral. OK, no one expected her to jump up and applaud for a president she detests, but she couldn't even muster a few fake hand claps when he said it was a good thing that American workers are getting bonuses thanks to the new tax law (which, of course, she and her party had absolutely nothing to do with).
But then why should she applaud? This is the same Nancy Pelosi — one of the richest members of Congress — who had said that those bonuses amounted to "crumbs." A few thousand bucks may be crumbs to her and her tony pals in San Francisco, but it's real money to real people with real jobs trying to pay real bills.
And when the president pointed out that black unemployment was at an historically low level, you'd think that might get at least a grudging positive response from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the ones who didn't boycott the president's address. But you'd be wrong. The camera caught them sitting on their hands, looking glum.
Hats off to Gayle King of CBS News for her honesty when she said, "Many of the Democrats, at many times, looked like they had bitten a couple of lemons, even when he was saying things most people would agree with."
And there are numbers to back King up. According to a poll conducted by her network, an overwhelming majority of Americans thought the president was trying to unite the country and that the speech made them feel proud. But that wasn't the reaction of progressives, the wing of the Democratic Party that's calling the shots.
To progressives, even good news is bad news if Donald Trump is involved. Actually, it's worse than that. The better the news for the American people, the worst it is for the Democratic Party. Bad news would practically assure a blue wave in November. Too much good news could present problems for Democrats.
Ordinary Americans are an optimistic people. But optimism isn't something Democrats want to convey to voters in an election year when they're the party on the outside looking in.
After the president's speech, Mika Brzezinski, co-host of a Trump-bashing morning show on MSNBC, asked why Democrats should applaud for "the great dictator." She may not be an important voice in mainstream America, but she is right there in the mainstream of the progressive left where her "great dictator" crack doesn't come off nearly as unhinged as it actually is.
CNN's Van Jones, who was a former adviser to President Obama, compared Trump's speech to "sweet-tasting candy with poison in it." Another CNN contributor, a far-left author named Sally Kohn called it a "scary speech" and said that people chanting "USA" sends "chills" down her spine. These are not alien views in progressive precincts.
And Joy Reid of MSNBC tweeted this after the president's speech:
"Church ... family ... police ... military ... the national anthem ... Trump trying to call on all the tropes of 1950s-era nationalism. The goal of this speech appears to be to force the normalization of Trump on the terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for."
As Heather Wilhelm wrote in National Review, "Ah, I can see the campaign posters now: "Can't stand church and family? Neither can we! Vote for the Democrats in 2018!" It's mind-boggling, isn't it?"
Yes, and so is this: Pelosi says the president's immigration plan is designed "to make America white again." How do you think that nonsense plays in Middle America — even among voters who don't especially like this president?
Are we really supposed to believe that anyone who supports the Republican Party on immigration isn't simply wrong, but is racist?
The economy may not be enough to save the GOP in November. But if it isn't, desperate Democrats sounding deranged, just might be.