Donald Trump may have never had a better time being President.
Only a re-election party on the night of November 3, 2020, could possibly offer the same vindication for America’s most unconventional commander in chief as the 36 hours in which two foundational strands of his political career are combining in a sudden burst of history.
Trump will become an undeniably consequential President with the Senate due to vote Saturday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, consecrating the conservative majority that has long been the impossible dream of the GOP.
On Friday, Trump had celebrated the best jobs data for 49 years as the unemployment rate dipped to 3.7%, offering more proof of a vibrant economy that the President says has been unshackled by his tax-reduction program and scything cuts to business regulations.
While his 2016 election campaign was most notable for swirling chaos and shattered norms, Trump’s vows to nominate conservative judges to the Supreme Court and to fire up the economy were the glue for his winning coalition.
The struggle to confirm Kavanaugh split the country, deepened mistrust festering between rival lawmakers and threatens to further drag the Supreme Court into Washington’s poisoned political stew. But Trump stuck with it and ground out a win.
Testing the new message
He will get his first chance to road-test his new, improved message at a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas, on Saturday night.
It’s ironic that it was Trump, a late convert to conservatism — not authentic Republicans like President Ronald Reagan, both Bush presidents and beaten GOP nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain — who finally delivered the Supreme Court majority.
If he is confirmed as expected, Kavanaugh will be Trump’s second nominee to reach the court in less than two years, following Neil Gorsuch.
Of course, the Supreme Court win is the culmination of decades of work by conservative activists and was masterminded by the cunning of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. But Presidents get credit when they are in the Oval Office when things go well and Trump, whether it is his fault or not, has taken more than his share of criticism.
On Saturday morning, Trump celebrated the imminent vote, praising pro-Kavanaugh women activists while again jabbing protestors opposed to the judge, many of whom said they had their own stories of assaults. His attitude reflected what critics say is a habit of siding with the accused rather than the alleged victims of assaults.
“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capitol Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!” Trump wrote.
A President of consequence
There is more evidence than the soon-to-be reshaped Supreme Court and the roaring economy to make a case that Trump is building a substantial presidency that in many ways looks like a historic pivot point, despite its extremely controversial nature.
Largely unnoticed in the Washington imbroglio over sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, the Trump administration is engineering significant changes at home and abroad that often represent sharp revisions of direction from traditional American positions.
This week, for instance, the White House initiated a potentially momentous shift in the US approach to China, recognizing the Asian giant as a global competitor and a threat to American security, prosperity and interests — reversing decades of policy designed to manage Beijing’s ascent as a major power and eventual partner.