Happy Saturday and boy, oh boy folks, am I ever laughing heartily.
It’s been pretty amusing to watch the media reaction to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s failed attempt to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. And it’s been even more amusing to watch the American public’s reaction proxied by Twitter.
To be sure, no one with any sense thought this was going to work in the first place.
Note I said “no one with any sense.” Trump thought it was going to work. Which is why it was hilarious when, on Friday evening, the President said this:
I never said repeal and replace it in 64 days.
He’s right. He didn’t say “64 days.” He said “immediately.” And he said “day one.” And he said it was going to “be so easy.” Here’s an amusing history lesson via WaPo:
Campaign website, March 2016: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”
Campaign website, August 2016: “One of my first acts as President will be to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare, saving another 2 million American jobs.”
Rally in Ohio, September 2016: “On my first day I’m going to ask Congress to immediately send me a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Rally in Florida, October 2016: “Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first. That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare. My first day in office, I am going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability.”
He also said: “It’s going to be so easy.”
Rally in Pennsylvania, November 2016: “When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. I will ask Congress to convene a special session.”
Interview with the New York Times, January 2017: Trump said an Obamacare repeal vote would happen before his inauguration and replacement wold come “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.”
And do you know what? This isn’t necessarily (another) case of him lying or trying to deceive anyone. This is more likely just a case of Trump being an idiot — a simpleton vis-a-vis the political process, despite his claims that by virtue of “being around politicians all [my] life,” he’s uniquely qualified to make deals.
This is a man who had no conception whatsoever of how difficult overhauling healthcare was going to be. He hadn’t the foggiest idea of how complicated an issue this was and he had no grasp at all of how to marshal support on Capitol Hill.
On Thursday night he tried getting into character. He unleashed “The Donald” to deliver an ultimatum. “No more talk, time to vote.”
It didn’t seem to occur to him that i) just getting Congress to vote doesn’t count as a victory – the goal is to actually win the vote, and ii) the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to get something controversial by lawmakers is back them into a corner and dare them to vote for something their constituents hate.
Well, it all crashed and burned. Trump’s dealmaking prowess was tested for the first time and not only did he fail miserably, his naiveté with regard to politics was laid bare.
Trump’s message to the American people after the vote was pulled:
- TRUMP SAYS BEST THING WE CAN DO IS LET OBAMACARE EXPLODE
That proves (again) that the President has the mentality of a spiteful toddler.
More worrisome however, is what it conveys about how Trump really views Americans.
Voters are just pawns useful only to the extent their problems can be exploited for political gain.
As long as America’s trials and tribulations with regard to health care premiums helped validate one of the campaign promises (“repeal and replace”) that got Trump elected, then great.
But the second it became apparent that “repeal and replace” wasn’t going to work, it was “yeah, f*ck those trials and tribulations – let Obamacare ‘explode’ so I can say ‘I told you so’ later.”
Someone will ask: “how is that any different from any other politician’s mentality?”
And I would ask: “how does that make it right?”