Saturday, March 25, 2017

So Will It Be Trumpy-the-Clown, Christie And Schumer Running The Show Together In DC?


This morning Trumpanzee tweeted to his 27 million followers to watch so-called "Judge" Jeanine on Fox tonight at 9pm. At exactly 9pm, she came on and what did she say? "Paul Ryan needs to step down. The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill... The one that he had seven years to work on... The one that had to be pulled to prevent the embarrassment of not having enough votes to pass... I want to be clear. This is not on President Trump. No one expected a business man to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of Washington and its legislative process." So... it's on!

Let's see... Trump is mad at Kushner-in-law for going away to ski instead of holding his hand in the White House while TrumpCare sank ignominiously. And Bannon seems to have persuaded Señor Trumpanzee to settle on making Priebus-- anyone heard from him lately?-- the scapegoat for the catastrophe... as close to Ryan as he dared get. Do those two factors that lead to the tarnished and seemingly discarded Chris Christie becoming the new chief-of-staff? Gee... and right when Flynn flips and becomes an FBI witness for the prosecution? Or is that still just the hottest rumor in town? Let's start with this afternoon's report from behind the lines in the Republican civil war from Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman at the NY Times. They pose some questions I'll paraphrase-- Like every other Republican leader who has tried to rule a fissured and fractious party, does the crazy and disoriented Señor Trumpanzee go for retrenchment or for realignment? Does he cede power to the anti-establishment wing of his party (the Freedom Caucus)? Or does he seek other pathways to successful governing by throwing away the partisan playbook and courting a coalition with the Democrats he has improbably blamed for his party’s shortcomings? After all, said Tom Cole (R-OK), a Trump and Ryan loyalist, "The president is a deal maker, and Ronald Reagan cut some of his most important deals with Democrats."
Trump is not there yet. So far he is operating from the standard-issue Republican playbook. While he is angry and thirsty for revenge, he seems determined to swallow the loss in hopes of marshaling enough Republican support to pass spending bills, an as-yet unformed tax overhaul and a $1 trillion infrastructure package.

On Friday evening, a somewhat shellshocked president retreated to the White House residence to grieve and assign blame. He asked his advisers repeatedly: Whose fault was this?

Increasingly, that blame has fallen on Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, who coordinated the initial legislative strategy on the health care repeal with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, his close friend and a fellow Wisconsin native, according to three people briefed on the president’s recent discussions.

Mr. Trump, an image-obsessed developer with a lifelong indifference toward the mechanics of governance, made a game effort of negotiating with members of the far-right Freedom Caucus, even if it seemed to some members of that group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that he did not have the greatest grasp of health care policy or legislative procedure.

...Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, according to people familiar with White House discussions, described what happened as a flat-out failure that could inflict serious damage on this presidency-- even if Mr. Bannon believes Congress, not Mr. Trump, deserves much of the blame.

Mr. Bannon and the president’s more soft-spoken legislative affairs director, Marc Short, pushed Mr. Trump hard to insist on a public vote, as a way to identify, shame and pressure “no” voters who were killing their last, best chance to unravel the health care law.

One Hill Republican aide who was involved in the last-minute negotiations said Mr. Bannon and Mr. Short were seeking to compile an enemies list. But Mr. Ryan repeatedly counseled the president to avoid seeking vengeance-- at least until he has passed spending bills and a debt-ceiling increase needed to keep the government running.

Mr. Trump, bowing to the same power-sharing realities that the besieged Mr. Ryan must cope with in leading the fractured Republican majority in the House, decided to back down. But the president’s advisers worry about the hard reality going forward-- the developer with the tough-guy veneer was steamrollered by various factions in the Republican Congress.

The president and his team lamented outsourcing so much of the early bill drafting to Mr. Ryan, and one aide compared their predicament to a developer who has staked everything on obtaining a property without conducting a thorough inspection.

...Kushner, who returned on Friday from a family skiing trip to Aspen, Colo., had said for weeks that he thought supporting the bill was a mistake, according to two people who spoke with him. The president, according to two Republicans close to the White House, expressed annoyance that Mr. Kushner, who has described himself as a first-among-equals adviser, was not on site during the consequential week of wrangling. And Tom Price, who left Congress to become Mr. Trump’s health and human services secretary, was singled out for blame for the bill’s failure.

Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, took on a bigger role pushing the bill, telling his former colleagues that the president wanted an up-or-down vote on Friday.

After it was all over, the president dutifully blamed the Democrats, a party out of power and largely leaderless, after turning his back on their offers to negotiate on a bipartisan package that would have addressed shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act while preserving its core protections for poor and working-class patients.

Several aides advised him the argument was nonsensical, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction.

For Mr. Trump’s Republican opponents, here was poetic revenge served cold. As a candidate in 2016, he initially scoffed at signing a Republican loyalty pledge, at times behaving more like an independent invading the Republican host organism than a normal presidential candidate.

As president, Mr. Trump has left dozens of critical administration jobs unfilled, rejecting stalwart Republican applicants deemed insufficiently loyal to him-- and now he is decrying the disloyalty of the 20 to 30 conservative members who outmaneuvered and overpowered him on health care.

“We all learned a lot-- we learned a lot about loyalty,” a solemn Mr. Trump told reporters late Friday.
He's learned a lot? At this rate his impeachment trial will have ended and his treason trial will have begun before he would have learned enough to qualify as a real president, albeit way too late. Too bad.

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