The mood at the White House on Tuesday night was ... jubilant. Trump returned from the Capitol shortly before midnight to find his staff assembled in the residence cheering him. Finally, they all thought, they had seized control. The president had even laid off Twitter outbursts — a small victory for a staff often unable to drive a disciplined message.But the White House couldn't get momentum from the speech:
“He nailed it, and he knew it,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.
The merriment came to a sudden end on Wednesday night, when The Washington Post first reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador despite having said under oath at his Senate confirmation hearing that he had no contact with the Russians.That's why I think the craziness, of this weekend has done more to shore up the Trump base than a speech was seen as successful. You and I see Trump as a half-mad king making wild accusations with no evidence. The base thinks he's going on offense against the most hated enemy of all. To the base, he's not vulnerable to a new cycle of bad news; instead, he's seizing bad news and jiujitsuing it to his advantage. The base was ready to love "presidential" Trump not because base voters want him to be presidential, but because they want him to vanquish those of us who think he can never really pull presidential off. So that seemed like a win to them. But they think this is better: He's going on the attack and he's taking the bad news head on.
No, really, that's how they see it.
In the long run, I suppose this is still a mess for Trump. In the short run, in the Trump bubble, the president looks like a winner. He's the tough guy they wanted. Going after Obama is "draining the swamp." The chants are going to change to "Locxk him up" soon.
To make base voters happy, Trump doesn't have to bring back manufacturing jobs or build the wall or defeat ISIS. He just has to give them their own facts, angrily and at the top of his lungs.