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Trump Fails The Leadership Test

Donald Trump

Just a few minutes after the news that House Republicans had pulled the American Health Care Act from the floor yesterday afternoon, and essentially abandoned any effort to ‘repeal or replace’ the Affordable Care Act for the foreseeable future, President Trump was on the phone with Washington Post reporter Robert Costa trying to spin what had happened to the first major piece of legislation introduced during his Presidency, and the story he came up with bears as little resemblance to reality as anything else we’ve heard from him:

President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m. At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.”

“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.”

My question for the president: Are you really willing to wait to reengage on health care until the Democrats come and ask for your help?

“Sure,” Trump said. “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days” — contradicting his own statements and that of his own adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who told CNN in November that the then-president-elect was contemplating convening a special session on Inauguration Day to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Turning to an aide, Trump asked, “How many days is it now? Whatever.” He laughed.

Trump returned to the theme of blaming the Democrats.

“Hey, we could have done this,” he said. “But we couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal.”

Seemingly immediately after getting off the phone with Costa, Trump then gave a call to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and said pretty much the same thing:

WASHINGTON — Just moments after the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was declared dead, President Trump sought to paint the defeat of his first legislative effort as an early-term blip.

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, was preparing to tell the public that the health care bill was being withdrawn — a byproduct, Mr. Trump said, of Democratic partisanship. The president predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

“The good news is they now own health care. They now own Obamacare.”

Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act would collapse in the next year, which would then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill.

“The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they’ll have increases from 50 to 100 percent,” he said. “And when it explodes, they’ll come to me to make a deal. And I’m open to that.”

Although enrollment in the Affordable Care Act declined slightly in the past year, there is no sign that it is collapsing. Its expansion of Medicaid continues to grow.

In a later phone interview with The Times, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, ridiculed Mr. Trump’s remarks about Democrats being at fault.

“Whenever the president gets in trouble, he points fingers of blame,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s about time he stopped doing that and started to lead. The Republicans were totally committed to repeal from the get-go, never talked to us once. But now that they realize that repeal can’t work, if they back off repeal, of course we’ll work with them to make it even better.”

Mr. Trump said that “when they come to make a deal,” he would be open and receptive. He singled out the Tuesday Group moderates for praise, calling them “terrific,” an implicit jab at the House Freedom Caucus, which his aides had expressed frustration with during negotiations.

Even so, he tried to minimize the deep divisions within his own party that prevented Mr. Ryan from securing passage of the bill, and maintained that they were six to 12 votes away from getting it across the finish line.

As Mr. Trump spoke, his voice was flatly calm and slightly hoarse, his manner subdued. He talked on a speaker phone from his desk in the Oval Office, with a coterie of aides drifting by. At one point, he welcomed his daughter Ivanka back from a ski trip.

Mr. Trump said that in states he had visited in the last two weeks, Tennessee and Kentucky, the problems with President Barack Obama’s signature legislation were evident. The president said he was now moving on to taxes and trade as priorities.

Trump said much the same thing on Twitter this morning:

In both calls, Trump operates from two hypothesis, neither one of which seems grounded in reality or to recognize how politics operates in this country.

To start out, let’s deal with Trump’s idea that the Affordable Care Act is going to “explode.” I’m fairly sure that what he really means here is “implode,” but that’s just a minor semantic issue. What he’s repeating here is the general idea that Republicans have had since the PPACA was adopted that the law could not possibly work and that it would inevitably collapse all on its own due to its very nature. To be sure, the last seven years have seen plenty of problems with the law, many of which have had a real impact on consumers and health care providers. The initial implementation of the law in 2014, for example, was so badly managed that the Federal Government ended up having to bring in a new set of contractors to fix the problems with the website that people were supposed to use to shop for insurance on the exchanges established by the law. Many people found that policies that they had happily relied upon for years were suddenly not available and that they were being required to switch to policies with higher premiums and higher deductibles than they had paid in the past. Others found that their employers were dumping health insurance coverage benefits altogether rather than switch to exchange-approved plans, forcing them to go out and shop for insurance on their own, often for the first time in their lives.

Even with the individual mandate in place, many young people continued to choose to continue to go without insurance, meaning that insurance pools started to become older and sicker, which is now causing insurance companies to raise premiums on an annual basis at nearly the same rate that they were before the PPACA went into effect. Finally, due to increased costs of doing business, several large insurance companies have dropped out of the exchanges altogether, meaning that there are far fewer choices available to consumers on those exchanges. According to some reports, for example, in many smaller states, there are only a handful of companies writing exchange-qualifying policies for individuals, and that reduced competition means that prices are increasing and choices decreasing to the point where, in some cases, people have no real choices at all. On top of all of this, there’s the fact that, even after the passage of the PPACA, millions of Americans remain without basic health insurance because they cannot afford it but are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or old enough to qualify for Medicare. Given all of this, it’s clear that there are plenty of problems with the PPACA that need to addressed. At the same time, though, it’s not at all clear that the law or the health care sector is about to “explode,” “implode,” or do anything other than chug along in the same imperfect way that it has for decades now. Indeed, it seems far more likely that the status quo will continue and we’ll learn to live within an imperfect system for the time being than it does that the system itself will collapse to the point that people will be on the streets demanding change, which is what Trump seems to be envisioning.

Let’s assume that Donald Trump is right, though. Let’s assume that at some point in the next four to eight years the American health care industry is near collapse because of the flaws in the PPACA and the public is demanding that someone do something about it. Trump seems to be under the assumption that Democrats would get the blame for this because the original bill was one of their own creation that had essentially no Republican input and certainly no Republican support and because Democrats did nothing to help Republicans get the American Health Care Act passed. This is utterly absurd. The party that is most likely to be blamed for the failures of the system is going to be the party that’s in power, and right now that’s the Republican Party and Donald Trump is sitting at the top of it. If he believes that a major health care crisis a year or two down the line is going to benefit him then he is truly more delusional than I ever believed him to be. If and when the time comes, the people will blame Republicans and they will blame President Trump, and it’s him they will be looking to for a solution to the crisis. At that point, it’s not Trump who will be holding the winning hand, it’s Democrats whose support he would need to get a reform package through Congress.

Additionally, if Trump is so sure that the PPACA is going to collapse of its own weight it seems the height of irresponsibility for him to essentially say that he is content with sitting back and doing nothing while it happens. If Trump is right and this happens on his watch, he is going to bear responsibility for it as much as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill would, probably more so. More importantly, given the way that this debacle with the AHCA unfolded, it’s likely that voters will remember what happened in the early days of the Trump Administration and blame him and the rest of the Republican Party much more than they’ll blame Democrats. A sitting President who simultaneously claims to have foreknowledge of an impending crisis and says at the same tie that he intends to do nothing about it isn’t much of a President at all. Speaking about the Presidency, Harry Truman once said that “the buck stops here.” Yesterday, Donald Trump pointed at House Democrats, who played no role in the failure of the reform effort at all, and said ’the buck stops with them.’ That’s not leadership, it’s childish finger pointing, and it does not bode well for Trump’s ability to lead when it comes to the rest of his agenda or, heaven forbid, when it comes to what seems like an inevitable foreign policy crisis at some point in the next four to eight years.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Of course he’s not a leader. There was never the slightest chance of him being a leader. He’s just a con man. He’ll never be anything but a con man. Trump voters put a 3-Card Monte dealer in the White House. He’s going to spend his time lining his pockets unless we manage to prove his treason with Putin so clearly that even the GOP can’t ignore it and remove him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 63 Thumb down 3

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    By the way Doug, the Guardian featured your tweet of Trump in a kiddie car in an article I am unable to find just now.

    Not sure if congrats are in order but you have them along with my peels of laughter that woke up my wife at 5 am.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. rachel says:

    The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

    Bwaaaaaah-hah! To any MAGAs who said, “We won, so shut up,” are you sure about that?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2

  4. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Aw, did the widdle man-baby fall flat on his face and get a great big ow-ee on his nose? Yes, he did! He did fall down! Poor man-baby! Look how sad he is in the photo. Someone give him a cookie.

    Is anyone taking credit yet for this “we’ve got them right where we want them!” defense? Is this why Bolton and Giuliani went to the WH yesterday? It just doesn’t sound like Priebus somehow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. CSK says:

    What did anyone expect? The man has the attention span of a flea, has no knowledge of governance or leadership, is incapable of reading and comprehending even a short briefing paper, has the temperament of a six-month-old with colic, and gets led around by the nose by an inner cabal of malevolent sleazeballs.
    You were expecting George Washington?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  6. al-Ameda says:

    He’s and autocrat, a Dear Leader type.
    It’s possible that he learned something from this, but likely not what we think he should have learned. Did he learn: (1) that even with majority control of congress, ‘autocrat’ does not necessarily translate to strong-arming congressmen and senators who have been winning elections for a few years without him; or, more likely, (2) not his fault.

    I’ll take “Not my fault” for $1,000, Alex.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  7. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Trump Fails Leadership? In other news, water is wet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    If there was ever a moment for conservatives to reexamine what they stand for this is it. They spent seven years being violently angry over a law and then they collapsed into a feeble puny heap in a matter of days when they had the chance to repeal or alter it. The blame for this goes as much to the people who encouraged justifiable anger over rising premiums without mentioning that the plan someone was paying $150 for that the ACA eliminated was crap.

    It was all fantasy–black Obama and his stupid plan that stole from the good white Americans. And everybody in the GOP and the conservative media went along with it because it was easy. You can throw out some MBA buzz words and say that we need to lower costs, and insurance does not equal care, and how everything is a study in contrasts and tradeoffs. Buzz words and then get votes, power, and money.

    But it blew up in their faces. This is probably the most hysterically funny political screw up in my lifetime. It was like they wanted to invade a country in the Middle East and ended up stranding the entire army on an ice flow in the Arctic.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  9. Terrye Cravens says:

    He is actually rooting for disaster. That is some leader there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  10. Hal_10000 says:

    As I said in the other thread, Obama was able to get better deals out of a hostile GOP Congress than Trump was from a friendly one. Mostly because Obama worked his butt off to grind out some kind of agreement and wouldn’t accept defeat. Trump made a tiny effort and then gave up immediately.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1

  11. Gustopher says:

    Others found that their employers were dumping health insurance coverage benefits altogether rather than switch to exchange-approved plans, forcing them to go out and shop for insurance on their own, often for the first time in their lives.

    Do you have statistics that show this trend is increasing? Companies have been cutting back on benefits to workers for my entire life.

    Health care in the US has been all kinds of screwed up for decades, and ObamaCare gets blamed for a lot of things that it didn’t fix, but which it didn’t make better either.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  12. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    “Microscopic effort” might be more accurate. But again, real, actual negotiation is something of which Trump has no knowledge and less experience. His “deals,” as far as I can tell, have always been contingent on him having all the power, all the money, and a well-developed taste for bullying those with very little money and no power. Witness the way he tried to drive that elderly woman out of her house in Atlantic City. To him, that was a triumph. Currently he’s going after a teen-aged girl in California for creating a website he regards as offensive to him. And recall the delight he expressed in suing writers he feels have insulted him. “It costs me a few dollars and bankrupts them,” he gloated.

    This is how Trump wins–against 16-year-old girls, elderly widows, and 35-grand-a-year freelancers.

    What a man.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000:
    There’s a lot of reporting to the effect that Trump did no preparation and was oblivious to specific issues. I’ve long believed he had untreated ADD – attention deficit disorder. That’s not a slam in itself, I have ADD. But I’m smart enough not to set myself up for a job that requires deep-diving on a whole vast range of issues.

    Trump doesn’t care that he’s completely unqualified for, and indeed incapable of doing, the job of POTUS. He’s not capable of caring about anything but himself. Ever. And he’s too stupid to see that over the course of months and years he will inevitably be revealed as the intellectual lightweight he is, not to mention as the psychopath he is. The only thing he’s good at is being a psychopath – ruthless, bullying, domineering, incapable of empathy, indifferently cruel, attention-seeking and fragile. He would be very dangerous if he were smart, or if he could control his ADD. But he’s a weak and stupid man whose own psychological illnesses mask his weakness, but only for a while, and only for the not-very-bright.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

  14. Moosebreath says:

    Scott Lemieux makes a good comparison between the passage of ACA and the failure of AHCA:

    “Comprehensive health care reform is brutally hard, as Truman and Johnson and Clinton can tell you. In addition getting the list of legislators [the conservative Democrats who were in the Senate in 2009-10] above, the Democrats also needed to keep in the fold every liberal who was well aware that the ACA was substantially suboptimal. Senators like Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown deserve enormous credit for working to make the bill as it could be and then supporting it. The Republicans just completely failed with a more homogeneous coalition in the more top-down chamber. What the Democratic leadership pulled off in 2009 is remarkable, and we now know that it is an enduring accomplishment. “

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  15. S. Fields says:

    Doug says…

    On top of all of this, there’s the fact that, even after the passage of the PPACA, millions of Americans remain without basic health insurance because they cannot afford it but are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or old enough to qualify for Medicare.

    … and you can see how Obamacare was a massive victory. Now, even a libertarian like Doug speaks as though healthcare is something every person deserves to have. Battles may continue but the war over whether healthcare is a right was won 7 years.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  16. CSK says:

    I just took a cursory glance at Lucianne.com, one of the preferred hangouts for delusional Trumpkins. They are actually touting this as an example of his outstanding ability to lead, citing in particular this morning’s Tweet of “DO NOT WORRY, PEOPLE.”

    I don’t think there’s any hope that this crew will ever, ever see the light.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  17. gVOR08 says:

    I commented through the campaign that Trump was the perfect candidate for people who have no idea what the President does, and that he was one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  18. teve tory says:

    how many more people would be covered if those GOP asshole states accepted the expansion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  19. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    In the view of a Trumpkin, the president’s job is to be an oaf, boob, and boor who exists to annoy “the elites.” That’s all he has to do to be a success in their eyes.

    This was our revenge election, in which those who feel unfairly screwed by life get to avenge themselves against those who are smarter, hard-working, and more successful.

    And the pity is they’re depending on a swine who secretly despises them to do this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  20. SenyorDave says:

    @gVOR08: I commented through the campaign that Trump was the perfect candidate for people who have no idea what the President does, and that he was one of them.

    You said it, Trump is an ignorant buffoon’s idea of what a president should be like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  21. Not the IT Dept. says:

    There’s a pretty good article in Politico detailing the truly minimal efforts by the WH to get the Freedom Caucus onside to support the ACHA. It basically consisted of annoying the hell out of them, ignoring their objections and making them meet twice with Steve Bannon who told them to take a hit for Team Trump to make the president look good. Also: Trump’s weaknesses as president and Ryan’s weaknesses as speaker came together for a perfect storm of incompetence. A good read, as I say:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/obamacare-vote-paul-ryan-health-care-ahca-replacement-failure-trump-214947

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  22. David M says:

    Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act would collapse in the next year, which would then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill.

    “The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they’ll have increases from 50 to 100 percent,” he said. “And when it explodes, they’ll come to me to make a deal. And I’m open to that.”

    It’s worth noting that Trump’s backup plan is to negotiate with the Dems for a plan that will have no overlap with the currently deceased GOP bill. (Which was so bad there wasn’t even any worry that it might attract Democratic votes.) Even if Obamacare explodes, the Democrats aren’t signing up for anything close to repeal. So his backup plan after failing to destroy Obamacare is to expand it, with the GOP in control of the House and Senate? It’s not a failure of leadership, it’s a failure to understand what’s going on.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  23. teve tory says:

    5 hrs ago:

    Bradd Jaffy‏Verified account
    @BraddJaffy

    President Trump is now at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, per pool; it’s his 12th golf course trip since taking office 9 weeks ago

    Spend a few weeks writing the shittiest bill in history to make good on your #1 pledge to screw 24 million americans, get trump’s support, ask around the conference and hear “I ain’t supportin that shit”, pull the bill, say “Obamacare is the law of the land.” and go golfin.

    Their voters are suckers.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  24. al-Ameda says:

    @teve tory:

    how many more people would be covered if those GOP asshole states accepted the expansion?

    When one considers that most fully-controlled Republican states did everything they could to avoid implementation of ACA, and many in fact directly denied their neediest citizens the benefit of federally supported Medicaid expansion, it is remarkable that ACA succeeded by getting 20 million people into coverage and care.

    And yesterday of course we’re treated to the completely expected yet ultra-depressing spectacle of the President of the United States implying that he wants a program that insures over 20 million people to go down in flames in order that Democrats will come to him to assent to his wishes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @CSK:

    Currently he’s going after a teen-aged girl in California for creating a website he regards as offensive to him

    Not to nitpick but this story appears to be false. Agree with everything else in the comment, though. I would add that many of his deals consist of slapping his name on someone else’s product with zero knowledge of how good it is.

    Huh … that sounds kind of familiar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Nitpicking is fine with me, and I appreciate it. I checked, and Snopes appears to regard the story as dubious. Like Donald Trump, I will claim that I read it in a newspaper. (Several, actually.) Unlike Donald Trump, I will admit that I may have been misled by a false report.

    Trump’s excuse for accusing Ted Cruz of being a serial philanderer, and of accusing Cruz’s father of being part of the JFK assassination squad, is that he read both stories in the National Enquirer.

    It’s interesting that he never admits anything he says is false; he falls back on the excuse that he “read it in the papers.” But aren’t those papers, in Trump’s view, always publishing “fake news”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  27. Davebo says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    If there was ever a moment for conservatives to reexamine what they stand for this is it.

    It’s more likely the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @teve tory:

    President Trump is now at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, per pool; it’s his 12th golf course trip since taking office 9 weeks ago

    What? This president? Inconceivable !!!

    “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off. … You don’t have time to take time off,” Trump adds. [The Hill, 6/23/15]

    So, I wouldn’t leave the White House very much because, you know, like little things like these little trips where they get on they cost you a fortune… I am worried about the cost. Why would you have two people flying to the same location a little time different. Why wouldn’t you both go.
    [Baton Rouge, LA, 2/11/16]

    Yeeeaaaahhhhhhh…

    Let’s do the math… Estimate $3 Mil for each presidential jaunt

    (source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/17/how-much-is-donald-trumps-travel-and-protection-costing-anyway)

    12x3Mill = $36 MILLION spent to have Trump hit a gold ball. In 9 weeks.

    What did president Obama spend on vacations? $100 Million in 8 years

    (… and that is from a critical site: http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/12/30/barack-obama-vacation-travel-costs-eight-year-term-96-million . Other sites list $85M )

    If Trump didn’t take another trip this year, and only did the same for the next three years, he will outspend President Obama in 4 years (not 8)

    If he keeps up at this pace, then the spend in 4 years will be $832 MILLION

    And that doesn’t count the spend for his wife in New York, or his various world traveling relatives, all getting Secret Service coverage.

    If we include them, and round up, then lets just go with a BILLION in 4 years.

    Is this the guy that has the Hutzpah to suggest a tax cut?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  29. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Oh, this is good. According to Axios:

    “When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon’s opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building: Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

    It went over about as well as you might expect.

    https://www.axios.com/wsj-editorial-names-names-on-who-owns-trumpcares-failure-2329339423.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. An Interested Party says:

    You have no choice but to vote for this bill.

    I would imagine that it is more than a little difficult to actually be intimidated by a president with a 40% approval rating…I suppose that Bannon was used to bullying people at Breitbart…such a shame that skill can’t help him or his boss now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  31. teve tory says:

    is it just me or did there used to be more pro-trump people around here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  32. rachel says:

    @teve tory: Even they have to admit Boss Tweet lost the day. They’ll be back when he’s done something they can point to as a win or when a disaster that can (somehow) be blamed on the Dems has happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  33. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @CSK: It’s only “fake news” if Trump doesn’t approve of the content of the story. There are lots of “real news” sources out there–The National Inquirer, InfoWars, Breitbart, Conservative Treehouse, Lucianne.com, all sorts of them. Amazing sources. Fantastically reliable. First Rate!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  34. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Oh, good grief. Is it really necessary to be just making stuff up this early in the Trump era? It took Obama over a year to get Democrats to pass the ACA. What did he get out of the GOP House after the 2010 midterms? Out of the Senate after the GOP took it over? In the first two months?

    I mean, if you want to take a shot at Trump because he had as little success dealing with the GOP House as literally everyone else has in the last six years, all is fair in love and politics. Haven’t we learned by now, however, that propagating nonsense just because it makes you feel good is ultimately disastrous?

    Mike

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  35. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Just ran across Scott Adam’s blog.

    He states that this is a great Victory for Trump in the 3D Chess world.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/158812654486/trump-and-healthcare

    With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”

    Hitler? Incompetent?

    Why not both! :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  36. teve tory says:

    remember email listservs, back in the 90’s? I was on Scott Adams’s. For a while. He’ll say a few smart things, a few weird things, and then just some sexist racist bullshit from left field. He’s a wacko.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. Mr. Bluster says:

    @MBunge:..Haven’t we learned by now, however, that propagating nonsense just because it makes you feel good is ultimately disastrous?

    Tell that to all the citizens who voted for President Pud!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  38. rachel says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Just ran across Scott Adam’s blog.

    He states that this is a great Victory for Trump in the 3D Chess world.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/158812654486/trump-and-healthcare

    With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.

    I never though Trump was Hitler; Hitler had actually served in a real shooting war, and with some distinction. Hitler’s attitude that he knew as much the generals (if not possibly more) had basis in reality. Furthermore, I thought Trump was incompetent from the word ‘go’. Not only that, I think he’s the kind of incompetent that if he detects an actual competent person in his orbit, he drives him or her away because anybody else knowing what their doing is an affront to him. Trump is a boob.

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  39. grumpy realist says:

    @MBunge: President Obama stuck with the work, patiently getting the buy-in from the herd of cats called Congress, with assistance from people like Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi (both of who did a lot of heavy lifting.) It took him 9 months.

    President Mussolini Mango gets fed up after 20 days, makes threats about “you gotta vote YES now otherwise I’m taking my ball and going home!” and then, when this CF of a bill is getting yanked, decides to blame everyone but himself for the debacle (including the Democratic side, who he had never even made an offer to EVER), grabs his golf clubs in a snit, and takes off on yet another of the golfing vacations he promised the US people he wouldn’t be taking.

    A CEO subject to a Board of Directors who acted this stupidly would find his ass out on the sidewalk next minute.

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  40. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It occurred to me that there’s yet another element at work here, which is that Trump is an object of contempt to most Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress. It has nothing to do with ideology, but with the fact that most people recognize that Trump is a malignant buffoon–even those who pay some tired lip service to supporting him. You can’t work with him, and you can’t take him seriously, except to contend with the havoc he wreaks.

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  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Rumors are floating around (to the extent that I’m inclined to give them some credence) that Mike Flynn has cut a deal with the FBI.

    Oh, and Boris Epshteyn is resigning from the White House.

    It’s starting to feel a little like April, 1973 again …

    Tune in tomorrow – same bat-time, same bat-channel! :-)

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  42. Pch101 says:

    @rachel:

    Hitler exaggerated his war record. He was a rear echelon runner, so his duty was less hazardous than that of a typical infantryman.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/aug/16/new-evidence-adolf-hitler

    Hitler claimed that he was hospitalized in 1918 due to a gas attack, but it now appears that he actually suffered from PTSD:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/hitlers-war-boast-exposed-as-a-myth-2373590.html

    Hitler is commonly referred to as a corporal, but that is misleading. He began as a private and was promoted once, so on the US scale, he began as a private and ended his service as the equivalent of a private first class.

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  43. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Yes. I’ve seen the same rumors about Flynn. Been reading them all morning. This is going to be very interesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    If Flynn has rolled over Manafort is going to have to grab any shred of a deal, and it may be too late. As you obviously know, if you’re going to flip, be the first in line.

    It’s funny – with Watergate we had one or two threads, one or maybe two solid sources, and a hardcore loyalty to Nixon at the center; this Russia/corruption thing is a whole Wal-Mart full of dangling threads and helpful sources, and I don’t think any of these clowns is a Liddy or a Bad Bob Haldeman. These people aren’t even competent criminals.

    I’ll tell you one thing, if I was Manafort or Flynn or Stone I would stay away from high windows. Potential problems for Putin have a distinct tendency to end up prematurely dead.

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  45. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And avoid bowler-hatted gentlemen bearing umbrellas on subways.

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  46. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    True. I’ve said for years that the morality play that was constructed by the Post about Watergate – two crusading young reporters and a courageous newspaper taking on a corrupt & out of control government – was (and is) laughable.

    Watergate was about the FBI using the Washington Post as a conduit for leaks in order to torpedo the president, and the Post cheerfully serving as a conduit for the information. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t so much journalists as they were stenographers.

    Without Felt leaking (IMO), Dean never would have flipped, so we really sort of had only one source in Watergate. In this current mess, we already have a great many Felts. It’ll be interesting to see who turns out to be the Deans.

    Thank G-d I remembered to pick up the popcorn :-)

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  47. JohnMcC says:

    My Missus was binge watching “the Americans” on Amazon. Every time she got up and out of the headphones she was still hearing all about the KGB. She had quite the cognitive dissonance going on. I had to explain. OhMyGod, she sez. OhMyGod.

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  48. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone read the supposed invoice to Merkel story?

    Given that the original “source” for this is a British tabloid 99.9% probability is that it’s not true, but what’s shocking is that I bet most of us wouldn’t find this surprising if it DID happen.

    Trump seems to have pissed off a lot of the British tabloids, who are now turning their “reporting abilities”(!) on him. Whoops….

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  49. Kylopod says:

    Please rescue my comment from the filter.

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  50. An Interested Party says:

    Oh, good grief. Is it really necessary to be just making stuff up this early in the Trump era? It took Obama over a year to get Democrats to pass the ACA. What did he get out of the GOP House after the 2010 midterms? Out of the Senate after the GOP took it over? In the first two months?

    Ahh, but the point is that Obama had struggles with a Republican Congress…if Trump, the Republican President, can’t get anything done with a Republican Congress, what does that say about him and them…

    Woodward and Bernstein weren’t so much journalists as they were stenographers.

    Certainly that seems to accurately describe most of Woodward’s career…

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  51. grumpy realist says:

    Interesting article from the NYTimes.

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