President Trump, while trying to push a health care bill through Congress, is also trying to overcome a Republican political culture that for years has rewarded saying no to political leaders.
For most of the past decade, many Republicans in Congress who wanted to raise money or their profile have followed an easy playbook. They opposed then-President Barack Obama, resisted any attempts to work with him, and then campaigned for reelection based on the success of their efforts to obstruct him…
The basic theory of political negotiation is that you smile in public and threaten in private.
“There’s not a president since [George] Washington who has not threatened a member of his own party over something,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Institute. “The basic theory of political negotiation is that you smile in public and threaten in private. The logic of that, I believe, is it gives people more latitude to engage and respond.”
What would be new is that Trump’s approach, as he has so often shown, whether on the campaign trail, in tweets or in his dealings with foreign leaders, is more blunt.
“If anything’s changed between now and the Lyndon Johnson era, it is that now virtually everything is happening live and widely accessible. So one of the things that has defined President Trump is he does things in public that many of our presidents did in private,” Grumet said. “What is unique about President Trump — and I think this is what people find compelling and repelling — is that it’s right there for all of us to see.”
Yet so far, it’s not clear whether Trump can be effective with this approach or not. His presidency might hang in the balance.