The DC swamp is already seducing Trump
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The Washington "swamp," as President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban MORE called it during the campaign, is already systematically seducing the so-called "savior."

1. First, let us understand why Trump won the 2016 election.

2. He won because most of his voters, deeply worried over the future of our country and having given up on the ability of political parties and the leadership class to fix our problems, saw him as their savior — their riding-into-a-corrupt-town-to-clean-it-up sheriff, their last-chance-to-get-it-right doctor who will cure their almost-terminal disease.


3. Trump himself has bought into this "only I can fix it" thinking.

4. As his campaign drew to a close, he adopted this "drain the swamp" mantra, and drew huge applause from his base for it.

5. But the D.C. swamp was paying attention, and immediately went into action.

6. They found — as we all are finding — the soft underbelly of Trump: flattery.

7. Indeed, with Trump, flattery will get you everywhere.

8. First off — two days after the election, President Obama discovered this easily exploitable Trump weakness when he sat for 90 minutes in the Oval Office, praised Trump to his face for his campaign and his abilities and — presto! — Trump began softening on two issues dear to Obama: global warming and ObamaCare.

9. Trump even went from calling Obama "the worst president, maybe in the history of our country" to asking for the president's counsel.

10. And since then, they have had a series of long phone calls; clearly Obama is convincing Trump to change his tune on a range of issues.

11. The other route into Trump's decision-making process is through his enormously influential daughter, Ivanka.

12. This week, we witnessed a most-unlikely scene: Former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreWalter Mondale was our first consequential vice president How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 The information superhighway must be accessible and affordable for all MORE — a scion of the D.C. swamp — in Trump Tower talking to Donald Trump about global warming.

13. Before, Donald Trump tweeted that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy to take jobs away from American workers; now, Trump tells us he has "an open-mind" about Obama's environmental initiatives.

14. Gore has been exceedingly generous in his praise of Donald Trump and solicitous of Ivanka Trump.

15. He ain't dumb; he's learned the Flatter Trump and You Get What You Want Plan.

16. Retired Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis — actually a thoughtful, learned man who is decidedly not a mad dog — quickly disabused Trump of another campaign promise: that renewed use of waterboarding and other types of torture are productive. One meeting between these two and that was the end of that particular campaign pledge.

17. Overseas, Russian President Vladimir Putin — a former KGB agent devoted to undermining the U.S. — a year ago learned how to flatter Trump. Since then, he has been the recipient of praise and policy shifts from Trump — NATO is obsolete; no lethal military aid to Ukraine; no, I wouldn't defend Estonia if attacked (a violation of Article 5 of NATO).

18. How long before the Chinese figure this out, too? And instead of blasting Trump for his Taiwan move, they begin to flatter and praise him?

19. Trump's supporters do not particularly care about Trump's positions on most issues; the appeal is him.

20. They trust in him so completely that he can do no wrong.

21. The two possible exceptions to this rule are the promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare and the hard line on illegal immigration that propelled Trump to first place in the GOP primaries.

22. Can the swamp find a way — either through flattery or through Ivanka Trump — to turn Donald Trump on these two issues?

23. And if he turned on these two issues, would his base still stick with him? Would they continue to defer to his judgment?

24. Would they stay? Or, as he said almost a year ago, could he "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters"?

25. Which is worse to his base: shooting someone or compromising on illegal immigrants and on not quite getting rid of ObamaCare after all?

26. We might soon find out as the GOP congressional leadership plans to do a quick vote in January or February to repeal ObamaCare — but — but — here is the rub: make it effective in three years! Yes, under Trump and the GOP Congress, ObamaCare would stay in effect for three more years until a 2020 date when some new, still-undefined replacement would be enacted.

27. Here is a question: After winning the House in 2010 entirely due to outrage over ObamaCare and then doing nothing; after then winning the Senate in 2014 entirely due to ObamaCare and again doing nothing; and then after Trump wins on a hard pledge to repeal and replace, can the GOP even survive the 2018 midterms if ObamaCare is still in place?

28. And here is another question: What if the D.C. swamp gets to Trump and convinces him to give legal status (green cards) to the 20 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S.? Will the Trump base still stick with Sherriff Don?

29. Or is a rapidly improving economy and the creation of millions of new jobs going to mitigate any policy reversals of Trump?

30. Won't the economy "trump" all else, even his flip-flops?

31. Only time will tell.

32. But be prepared for whiplash as Donald Trump reverses himself as often as most people change socks.

John LeBoutillier is a former Republican congressman from New York and is the co-host of "Political Insiders" on Fox News Channel, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. He writes semi-regular pieces in the Contributors section on the "State of the 2016 Race."

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.