That line was echoed from the White House, which has sought to cast Trump’s embrace of Democrats as an effort to disrupt politics as usual. “This is simple. In the real world, progress is measured by how much you produce, not how much you pontificate,” said Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser. “It turns out the swamp includes some people on Capitol Hill and not just on K Street.”
The game has certainly changed. The old rules of GOP politics held that any Republican who stepped out of line to seek compromise with Democrats risked immediate attack for ideological heresy, or worse, squishiness and weakness. But Trump’s call for a “much stronger coming together” with Democrats last week earned him little direct public criticism from Republican lawmakers or activists, who are wary of his power among the base. Instead, party leaders across Washington turned the focus of their ire on the continued dysfunction among Republicans.
“He gave them the opportunity to legislate and they failed, so of course he’s got to knock over the table,” Manning said. “He said now you have to compete for my signature and in competing you have got to give me what I want. So, yeah, he changed the game.”
But when Trump shocked the nation last week, handing Democrats a major victory by accepting their terms for a clean three-month suspension of the borrowing limit, Manning says he felt no ill will for the president. Instead, he blamed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for forcing Trump to work with Democrats.
Republicans who dared to cut deals with Democrats have long had to fear retribution from conservative activists like Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. He had railed against a 2015 debt-ceiling compromise as “absurd,” and as recently as March called for President Trump to use the vote to “create real reforms” to cut spending.