The Blame Game
As Trumpcare started tanking on national TV Friday morning, Pence allies were desperately trying to float their bullshit boat that the vice president advised Trump to keep his distance from the bill and just label it a Ryan proposal. Pence, in fact, worked closely with Ryan and Price-- Price, who he pushed on Trump to name HHS Secretary-- in crafting the proposal to meet their ideological agenda, not Trump's amorphous ego-driven political agenda. Were you surprised when Ryan-- with Trump's acquiescence-- pulled the monstrosity yesterday-- for a second time in two days-- unable to get enough GOP support to even try getting it passed?
On his Facebook page Thursday, Dan Rather wrote, "Loser. That's a word that Donald Trump fears being called more than any other. It is a word that he has wielded with relish against his enemies. But if the health care bill goes down in defeat, and at this point that is still a big if, Mr. Trump will be seen as a loser, and so will his new cheerleader Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. A loser president. It's a moniker that every president dreads, but especially President Trump. It strikes at the very essence of his being. It is why he rails away at conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Once you are seen as a loser in Washington your enemies are emboldened and your allies become skittish. Power can evaporate faster than dew in Dalhart... We must remember that Mr. Trump is not a Republican. It is not clear to me that he believes in any governing philosophy other than his own political expediency. He was basically an independent, maverick candidate. But the GOP leadership got behind him for strategic reasons. And now they will have to own that decision. The party base can easily flee with an excuse that Mr. Trump was never one of them. The struggles with the Republicans in Congress to formulate a coherent governing strategy shows how hollow their rhetoric was during the Obama years. They became the Party of No and not the party of ideas. Many of the best conservative thinkers have bemoaned that trend. Their concerns are now bearing bitter fruit."
Trump will do whatever it takes to avoid the blame for the failure of the TrumpCare bill. He must have freaked out when Ann Coulter was on Tucker Carlson's show Wednesday iwhining that Trump is following "Paul Ryan's priorities... I will not," she purred, "hold the Emperor God Trump responsible for this Obamacare-lite bill, but for Pete's sake..."
And on Twitter yesterday right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro laughed about how convenient it was for Trump to flip "from all-powerful master negotiator to well-intentioned simpleton duped by Snidely Ryan at the drop of a hat." Ouch. But this is all playing right into the nefarious hands of the merciless Mercers. Their man in the White House, Steve Bannon, may or may not care one way or the other about health care, but he does have a dog in this fight: he wants Ryan out of the Speaker's chair. By yesterday he and his allies were hissing that Ryan let the insurance industry write the legislation and that was the fatal flaw. And that brings us to Gabe Sherman's piece yesterday for New York which postulates that Bannon could come out the big winner of this GOP civil war battle. "The failure," he wrote before it had failed, "to repeal and replace Obamacare would be a stinging defeat for Trump. But it would be an even bigger defeat for Paul Ryan, who has all but staked his Speakership on passing this bill. And in the hall of mirrors that is Washington, the big winner to emerge out of the health-care debacle could be Steve Bannon. That’s because Bannon has been waging war against Ryan for years. For Bannon, Ryan is the embodiment of the 'globalist-corporatist' Republican elite. A failed bill would be Bannon’s best chance yet to topple Ryan and advance his nationalist-populist economic agenda."
Publicly, Bannon has been working to help the bill pass. But privately he’s talked it down in recent days. According to a source close to the White House, Bannon said that he’s unhappy with the Ryan bill because it 'doesn’t drive down costs' and was 'written by the insurance industry.' While the bill strips away many of Obamacare’s provisions, it does not go as far as Bannon would wish to 'deconstruct the administrative state' in the realm of health care. Furthermore, Bannon has been distancing himself from the bill to insulate himself from political fallout of it failing. He’s told people that Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn-- a West Wing rival-- has run point on it. (Bannon did not respond to a request for comment.)Also yesterday, Jennifer Jacobs reported for Bloomberg that behind the scenes, Trump's people "are planning to blame Ryan" for the defeat. "Several Trump associates have already laid groundwork to blame the speaker, who butted heads with Trump repeatedly before his election. 'I think Paul Ryan did a major disservice to President Trump, I think the president was extremely courageous in taking on health care and trusted others to come through with a program he could sign off on,' Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax and a long-time friend of Trump’s, said in an interview last week. 'The President had confidence Paul Ryan would come up with a good plan and to me, it is disappointing.' A Trump associate who requested anonymity to discuss the president’s views on the matter said that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus may also be imperiled. Trump’s core supporters regarded Ryan as at best unimportant during the presidential campaign and at worst a poster child for the sort of establishment, scripted politician they loathed. Still, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and top White House aides had been working closely with Ryan on a health bill since the election and were heavily involved in negotiations to reach a deal, according to a senior Republican aide. That leaves questions about whether they’ll be able to cooperate to pull the party together on other tough issues, crucially a tax overhaul that Trump has said is a personal priority."
Whether or not the bill passes, Ryan has been weakened, the pro-Breitbart Freedom Caucus has been emboldened. It’s hard to see how the Republican health-care civil war hasn’t been a boon for Bannon.
|Wrap your head around this Machiavellian approach from Joe "Oily Joe" Barton (R-TX)|
In the middle of all this-- and the Putin-Gate/treason investigations-- Trump agreed to do an interview with Time Magazine for a story they were doing about how his modus operandi includes strategic and tactical lying, something he defended by remarking that "I’m president, and you’re not," meaning he thinks it's worked for him. I'd say that bodes poorly for Ryan in all this.