So now that we have learned that our President is willing to say things that are demonstrably untrue (see size of electoral college victory, crowd sizes, cheering Muslims on 9/11, wiretaps ordered from the White House), Republicans and Democrats have different problems to deal with.
For Republicans, they must decide how comfortable they are with owning these false claims. It is not merely a matter of political hyperbole of which many are guilty. It was hyperbole to say, as President Obama did, that no one would have their existing health insurance affected if they didn’t want to change. It turned out not to be true, but it wasn’t known to be untrue at the time it was stated. Similarly, when candidate Trump talked about his wall which Mexico would pay for, it wasn’t a lie, but hyperbole that will turn out not to be true. So, for Republicans, as they try to pass their version of healthcare and tax reform, will they continue to embrace or ignore Presidential claims that they know are untrue? Will they ignore the Russian connection however benign or malignant it may be? I suspect their tipping point may be the popularity of President Trump among Republican voters. If it ever dips below 60%, expect the wheels to come flying off. Until then “duck and cover” will probably be their approach.
Now for Democrats, the problems are different. Some of them are discovering how much more fun it is to throw rocks than it is to catch them. The anger on the left of the party is real and they are afraid to incur the wrath of their own so the lowest degree of tolerance will be the default position. The difficulties with replacing the ACA will be enjoyed by the Dems as they watch the way their colleagues across the aisle are squeezed by the Freedom caucus on one side and the House leadership on the other.
Let me propose a third option which has yet to occur to anyone in the system. If both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could agree that the President will lie about too many things, they could sit down and work out a way forward together. Since the Republicans are the majority party, they get to have their way a majority of the time. Since they want things to pass on their watch, they need to give the Democrats some things they want in the legislation so what comes out is not only viable, but not a target for the next 6 years only to be undone if the Democrats gain control again. This would require both parties not pandering to their most vocal members. As much as I would like to see movements like this on issues like healthcare and taxes, I am not hopeful.