Our Failing Naked Emperor

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One of the defining characteristics of the Trump campaign and administration is the utter disregard for the facts.  There was some hope by Trump supporters that once he transitioned from campaign mode to presidential mode, he would also abandon his strategy of habitual fabrication.  That hope died with the inauguration.  Trump’s inaugural crowds were factually smaller than Obama’s, but no one in the Trump administration and no one in the Republican establishment were willing to call Trump out as a liar.  Instead we’re dealing with this interesting situation where he, his administration, and his supporters blame media bias for every report that details yet another Trump lie.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the emperor is still naked.

That “nakedness” is finally causing more than embarrassment.  This “strategy” has made it more difficult for Republicans to govern.  We are now 9 months into a legislative session where Republicans control all branches of government, and the ONLY enduring evidence of this control is Gorsuch’s SCOTUS appointment.  Even that has an asterisk because McConnell had to remove the 60 vote filibuster in order to get it done.

The fundamental operating principle of this administration is that Trump can never fail, he can only be failed.  As a result, any form of failure must either be a lie or someone else’s fault.  I won’t try to go into the psychology of this particular form of egotism.  We’ll save that for another day.  At this point, let’s just look at the consequences of never admitting that you’ve been wrong.

One example is the recent failure to pass healthcare which Trump blamed on the filibuster rule in the Senate.  The FACT was that the healthcare reform bill wasn’t subject to a filibuster.  It only required a simple 50 vote majority to pass because of reconciliation rules.  It failed to get 50 votes because several Senators from the President’s own party refused to vote for it.  McCain refused to vote for it because Republicans bypassed the normal committee process where all interested parties would have an opportunity to comment and all points of view could be considered.  Paul refused to vote for it because it wasn’t conservative enough.  Collins refused to vote for it because she feared it would have resulted in the loss of healthcare insurance coverage in her state.  The bill died before it could ever get a vote, so we don’t know how many others would also have voted against it.

Another example is his regular rant about the biased media and fake news failing to report on his accomplishments.  The problem is, just like the inauguration, there isn’t much there.  Worse yet, Trump’s own obsession to dominate every news cycle makes it difficult for even his modest accomplishments to get much play.  Instead he regularly distracts from his legislative agenda by picking fights and fanning the flames of the culture war.

A third example is the Republican establishment who, in Trump’s description have let the Russian investigation get out of control and secretly oppose his agenda.

What is true is that Trump’s agenda, if in fact he truly has one, is failing because he hasn’t provided the policy to support his bold promises.

Healthcare failed three times because he had promised to provide better coverage to more people at a lower cost.  None of the bills that were proposed accomplished that, even though Trump at one point or another supported all of them.  Instead they were thinly (and in the last case not so thinly) veiled attempts to dismantle Medicaid.  As those realities became apparent to more people, opposition mounted and the bills failed.

Tax reform will suffer a similar fate.  Though Trump promised a bill that would benefit the middle class and not reward the wealthy, the bill that is currently being considered does what every other Republican tax initiative has done.  The bulk of the benefits go to the wealthiest 1% of the country.

This is not the result of a conspiracy of the Republican establishment to undermine Trump.  If anything, Trump has passively allowed Congressional leadership to fill in the blanks on his promises.  The problem is that the bills in their final form were not even close to what Trump promised, and he didn’t seem to care.

The cause is years of Republican bad faith campaigning.  Republicans promised that they could replace Obamacare with something better if they only had the majority to implement their ideas.  They never actually proposed any new ideas.  Instead they were content to demonize liberal Democrats.  When voters finally gave Republicans a chance to prove they could do better, they failed.

The same thing will be true about taxes.  Trickle down tax cut plans that were supposed to make life better for the middle class have failed spectacularly at the state level and nationally.  But here it comes again in even a worse form than what was passed during the Bush years.

Republican voters are unhappy that the party isn’t delivering on Trump’s promises.  Trump used this anger to get himself elected.  But voters haven’t stopped there.  They continue to elect bomb throwers at the state and local level.  Newly elected Senator Moore in Alabama has said he shares Rand Paul’s view regarding healthcare reform and would have joined him to vote against that bill.  Moore will likely make it more difficult rather than easier to get Trump’s agenda through the senate.

The bottom line is that Trump lies have painted the party into a corner on many issues.

The claims that Obamacare is failing make it more difficult to pass bipartisan legislation that most agree would solve the current set of problems.  Passing that legislation would force Trump to admit that Obamacare isn’t failing and can be improved with a couple of simple tweaks.  If that’s true, then why the continued effort to tear it down and replace it with something that kills Medicaid and takes coverage away from millions of people?

Claims that we have to build a very expensive wall across our southern border to protect our country from the threat of illegal immigration makes it more difficult to pass a bill to address the plight of “Dreamers”.  Trump’s base perceives a dreamer deal to be a loss for Trump in the fight to kick illegal immigrants out of the country.

The obsessive insistence by Trump that the various Russian investigations are a hoax, fake news, and a politically motivated witch hunt makes it nearly impossible to make any progress on preventing future Russian election hacking.  That’s because Trump simply can’t acknowledge the obvious fact that Russians did attempt to disrupt the 2016 election and continues to be engaged in social media meddling.  Trump’s war with the legit press in this country has given Russians all of the cover they need to continue their REAL fake news activities.  The latest example is coverage of the Las Vegas shooting where Russian sources promoted stories that the shooter was an anti-Trump liberal jihadist who had secretly converted to Islam.

Trump’s various lines in the sand regarding Korea have only encourage Kim Jong Un to become more aggressive.  In other administrations, tough talk in public is cover for behind the scenes diplomacy that ultimately resolves the issue.  That doesn’t work in Trump-world where he has to win and is willing to undermine his own Secretary of State’s efforts to defuse this dangerous escalation.  Tillerson became the person who failed Trump on Korea.

Trumps pathological need to always be right was on public display in his response to the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico.  While people were suffering because of the logistics challenges of getting aid from the ports out to the people, Trump was picking a fight with professional athletes.  When the mayor of San Juan called him out on it, he suggested that it was her fault and a cultural failing of the Puerto Rican people that there weren’t enough truck drivers willing to leave their struggling families to get supplies off the docks.  Doesn’t the army have truck drivers?  I thought that disaster relief was all about sending a bunch of people into an area to do those things that the local population couldn’t do for themselves.  We fill in the gaps until the local population can get back on their feet and take care of their own needs themselves.

During his tour of the island, he told those without shelter, food, clean drinking water, sanitation, and medical services that they should be grateful that it wasn’t a real disaster like Katrina.  The implication being that if it were a REAL disaster like Katrina, the government would have been better prepared and would be providing more help.  But the government WASN’T prepared to deal with the aftermath of Katrina and it wasn’t prepared to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.  That’s Trump’s fault.

We all know how the story of the naked emperor ended.  It will be interesting to see when and how truth ultimately takes down this naked President.

 

7 Responses to “Our Failing Naked Emperor”

  1. Keith says:

    One small rewrite my friendThe cause is years of Republican bad faith campaigning.

    You wrote -The cause is years of Republican bad faith campaigning.

    Should read – The cause is years of Republican/Democrat bad faith campaigning.

    Surely you are aware…..

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Let’s stick to RealClearPolitics as an average. That average almost hit 42% after the debt ceiling deal. It is now back under 40% based on everything that has come apart since then. Rassmussen remains an outlier.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

    Fivethirtyeight has consistently tracked lower than that in part because they discount the value of the Rassumussen poll. They rate it as only a C+ on their scale of accuracy.

    Here’s the page describing their ratings.

    https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/pollster-ratings/

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    One small rewrite my friendThe cause is years of Republican bad faith campaigning.

    You wrote -The cause is years of Republican bad faith campaigning.

    Should read – The cause is years of Republican/Democrat bad faith campaigning.

    Surely you are aware…..

    Not suggesting the the Democrats haven’t campaigned in bad faith.

    Just listing the examples of where bad faith campaigning on the part of Republicans have put them in a position where they can’t deliver on their promises. So instead they replace those promises with legislation which reflects their ideology. I already listed a few. The promise to replace Obamacare with something that covered more people for less money with better benefits. That morphed into a policy covering fewer people with less benefits for more money, BUT also eliminated that huge entitlement program called Medicare. The promise for tax reform that benefits the middle class instead of the wealthy, doesn’t explode the deficit, and makes tax filing easy morphed into a program that benefits the wealthy and big business instead of the middle class, does explode the deficit, and makes tax filing easier by eliminating deductions that benefit the middle class. Here are a few more. Promise on social issues like abortion and marriage equality becomes pass tax cuts, corporate welfare, cuts to social programs, and deregulation. Promise that the financial industry could manage itself becomes global financial meltdown. The promise that we are going to be greeted as liberators, morphs into $6T of expense in a failed nation-building experiment. Promise that we are going to remake Iraq into a democracy that will stabilize the region morphs into an invasion that destabilized the region, caused Iraq and North Korea to start nuclear weapons programs, and gave Russia an opportunity to regain influence by supporting Assad in Syria.

    You are going to say that Obama promised that if you like your doctor you will be able to keep him. That turned out not to be true for some people, but most people were able to keep their doctor. So clearly there is a difference in scale here. Under Obama, some people purchased insurance in narrow networks that didn’t include their physicians. Under Trump, where the promise was more people insured for less money with better coverage, 32M people lose their coverage. If there are other examples of Democrats promising one thing and delivering another, please feel free to list them.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    RealClearPolitics aggregate rating is back under 39% again an headed south pretty quickly.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

    Fivethirtyeight.com just published an interesting article regarding the characterizations in the press of Trump’s volatility. As with a lot of other things about this President, we are in uncharted territory. Nate Silver calls it out when he says the media needs to stop rationalizing what is basically irrational behavior. He goes on to prove that Trump’s responses are not, on the whole, a deliberate political tactic. Instead they are mostly impulsive and emotional.

    As a result, it is entirely appropriate for the newly courageous Bob Corker to ask the basic question – is this guy capable of handling the responsibilities of the office that he occupies? Will he end up leading us into a nuclear conflict because of his hasty response to some perceived insult? Does he really care that his attacks on Corker will likely doom his tax bill? Does he care that his attacks on Puerto Ricans combined with his slow response to their needs could drive many of them out of Puerto Rico and into Florida? Not only will they be more expensive to care for in Florida than they would be if they stayed in Puerto Rico, but because they are already US citizens they will be able to vote in the next election. Because they vote largely democratic, they could easily tip the balance of power in that state to Democrats in the next statewide or national election.

  5. Keith says:

    I can list many but that’s just not helpful. I.E. Nancy and senator Reid promised to end the war and bring everyone home. A promise they simply couldn’t keep.

    http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/talks-at-gs/nitin-nohria.html?cid=scl-pd-facebook-talksnohria-video-20179%E2%80%943

    As to our conversation from years ago.

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I can list many but that’s just not helpful. I.E. Nancy and senator Reid promised to end the war and bring everyone home. A promise they simply couldn’t keep.

    That’s true. Democrats gained control of Congress and attempted to pass legislation to force a withdrawl of US forces from Iraq. They were stopped by Republicans who continued to support Bush and opposed those efforts. They also didn’t have enough democratic votes to override a veto. The stark difference is that in 2008 when they did gain control of the government and the White House, they did withdraw troops from Iraq as promised.

    https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/voters-angry-betrayal-democratic-partys-promise-end-war

    To put that into the current context, Trump and the Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better that covered more people with better coverage at a lower cost. The plan they proposed however was not better. It was WAY worse. It took away healthcare from 32M, raised the cost of coverage, and reduced the quality of coverage. For Democrats to fail on their Iraq promise in this way, they would have promised to end the war in Iraq, and then when they finally had the power to do so, voted instead to send more troops in a renewed effort to win the war rather than just end it.

    Not sure what the GS link was about.

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