Trump Versus The GOP

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Republicans and the president on Charlottesville, on their bigger agenda. Can this political marriage be saved?

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, N.J., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminister, N.J., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The GOP establishment never wanted Donald Trump as their party’s flag-bearer. But when he surged, they held on and won the White House. Dreamed, and still dream, of pushing through a big agenda with President Trump out front. But then came the flame-out of their health care bill. Hard words between Mitch McConnell and the president. Open sniping. And then, Charlottesville. The GOP has its own history on race, but this was different. This hour On Point: Donald Trump and the GOP, under pressure. -- Tom Ashbrook


Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for POLITICO. (@elianayjohnson)

Charlie Sykes, former host of the talk radio show "Middays with Charlie Sykes." Author of the forthcoming, "How The Right Lost Its Mind." (@SykesCharlie)

Rick Perlstein, historian and author of, "The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan," "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmasking of the American Consciousness," and "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America." (@rickperlstein)

From Tom's Reading List

Washington Post: Trump’s baffling attacks on McConnell could be costly to the president — "The world has gotten another clear-eyed look at President Trump as he continues to rattle cages during his working vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. He has displayed one gear, one speed — attack and attack again. When he is unhappy, it shows. This week his ire has been focused on two individuals — one an obvious adversary and the other, inexplicably, a presumed ally. The adversary is North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The ally is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)."

POLITICO: Trump plays both sides with Charlottesville response — "But the White House’s slow-footed response, which played out over three days, fit a broader pattern that has hobbled the president before. Pushed to condemn some of the ugly factions of the alt-right made prominent by his candidacy, Trump has fallen back on the same tactic: delay, delay, delay. Political analysts said Trump’s drawn-out response was part of a double game — an effort to avoid alienating part of his base followed quickly by a pivot to tamp down the outrage."

New York Times: I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong. — "The professional guardians of America’s past, in short, had made a mistake. We advanced a narrative of the American right that was far too constricted to anticipate the rise of a man like Trump. Historians, of course, are not called upon to be seers. Our professional canons warn us against presentism — we are supposed to weigh the evidence of the past on its own terms — but at the same time, the questions we ask are conditioned by the present. That is, ultimately, what we are called upon to explain. Which poses a question: If Donald Trump is the latest chapter of conservatism’s story, might historians have been telling that story wrong?"

This program aired on August 15, 2017.


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