I always tell colleagues at work to give me the bad news because good news has a way to taking care of itself. So, in that spirit, here is some bad news to contemplate — especially for Republicans — this week.
For starters, Democrats hold a double-digit lead in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal generic congressional ballot poll, released Sunday. As a point of reference, the NBC/WSJ generic congressional ballot poll had Republicans and Democrats nearly tied at this point in 2014, just eight months before Republicans won not only the Senate but also their largest majority in the House since the 1928 election. So, for Republicans, being down 10 points in March is troubling.
Next, President Donald Trump has never been described as beholden to traditional norms of civilized behavior and respectable leadership. But according to Maggie Haberman's Sunday report in the New York Times, Trump has become even more unrestrained, "newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him." Really? Trump has been holding back? If Trump's performance so far occurred while he was "feeling tentative and anxious, intimidated by the role of president," as Haberman reports, then heaven help us all for what might come next.
As if that wasn't enough, the Stormy Daniels story has legs and more. Unlike most tweet-based gaffes or personnel troubles emanating from the Trump White House, the Daniels affair has taken root. Beyond just the distracting headlines — and once again having to shield your children from news about their president — the Stormy Daniels matter has gone from the tabloids into mainstream TV and the courts. Even worse for the GOP, it is a constant reminder that a serious component of the Republican leadership, who represented themselves as being from the "value voters" wing of the party, were hypocrites. These Republican leaders are mostly silent.
I remember how in 1980 there were disapproving grumblings on the right that "Reagan is a divorcé." How quaint.
Then there is the constant turmoil surrounding staffing in the Trump White House. While Trump appears to have taken his foot off the personnel firing pedal, everything could change in an instant. But even if Trump were to hold off on making any further staff changes, the steady stream of unexpected and impromptu departures has already taken a toll on White House staff. As Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman reported Friday, "some aides say they wake up each morning wondering if they will still have a job by the end of the day." So I salute those who are hanging in there. And even though this column is about bad news, here is some good news: Outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn is living proof you can work in the Trump administration and enhance your reputation. Cohn had a good reputation before coming to the White House and will have an even better one leaving it. Cohn knew what his job was, he stayed out of the day-to-day noise and bickering, he worked toward an identifiable objective and he managed to lead one of the White House's most important policy offices under difficult conditions.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta last week substantially walked back a recent growth projection. It went largely unnoticed, but the Atlanta Fed cut a prediction of 5.4 percent gain in gross domestic product in the first quarter to just 1.9 percent eight days ago and 1.8 percent on Friday. And Trump's proposed tariffs are looming over the economy, creating great uncertainty for investors and businesses alike. The allure of a pro-business, anti-regulation Trump has fueled the economy for months. But Trump's aggressive posture on tariffs could quickly change that.
So there you have it; just a little bad news. In the Trump era, this entire column could be overwhelmed by something that suddenly appears out of the blue, or every item mentioned could be enhanced by new, wild revelations before the end of the day. Either way, it is exhausting.
Ed Rogers is a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in 1991.