Forget the tornado of unsettling tweets. Forget the thunderclaps of unproven claims. Forget the hurricane of accusations about Russia. The single biggest threat to the White House – to the presidency of Donald Trump – is now coming in the form of a slow leak. Congressional Republicans are drip, drip, dripping away.
Let’s start with what you can measure. One of the biggest goals of candidate Trump was repealing and replacing Obamacare. He called the program disastrous so many times Democrats wailed on election night, knowing it was doomed. He said he’d start taking it apart on day one. But repeated attempts by the president’s team to make it happen have fallen short. Even his direct calls to senators could not rally enough votes.
Then to add insult, Congress shoved a veto-proof package of Russian sanctions his way, which he expressly did not want. And as he raged against his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, some of the AG’s old Congressional allies came to his defense, suggesting the president would dismiss Sessions only at his peril.
Beyond that, in general terms, they are speaking up about what some clearly see as a problematic presidency. Sen. Jeff Flake from Arizona came out this week pushing his new book in unsparing terms: suggesting the Republican Party is abandoning its very principles in a misguided effort to make the Trump agenda work.
This is risky stuff, to be sure. Despite his terrible overall approval rating, Donald Trump is still running strong with parts of the conservative base, which could decide to hammer the GOPers who are stepping out of line. But some lawmakers clearly believe the bigger threat lies in going along with policies they find questionable, pushed by a president they find baffling.
Maybe the Russia investigation will turn into a nightmare for Team Trump. Maybe some other calamity will upend this presidency. But if the president wants to know where the real danger lies, he might pause and listen for that drip, drip, drip. It is real, it is right now, and it could bring the roof down.