The Week on Planet Trump: A Failed President Leading a Party of Failure
Monday: Trump is Killing the GOP
In 2004, Republican strategist Karl Rove anticipated a majority that would last a generation; two years later, Pelosi became the most liberal House speaker in history. Obama was swept into power by a supposedly unassailable Democratic coalition. In 2010, the tea party tide rolled in. Obama’s reelection returned the momentum to the Democrats, but Republicans won a historic state-level landslide in 2014. Then last fall, Trump demolished both the Republican and Democratic establishments.
Political historians will one day view Donald Trump as a historical anomaly. But the wreckage visited of this man will break the Republican Party into pieces — and lead to the election of independent thinkers no longer tethered to the tired dogmas of the polarized past. When that day mercifully arrives, the two-party duopoly that has strangled American politics for almost two centuries will finally come to an end. And Washington just may begin to work again.
Tuesday: Stunning Defeat on Healthcare
Since President Trump took office, opponents have been mobilizing at the grassroots. A group of former congressional staffers, for instance, formed the group Indivisible which used the methods of the tea party to create pressure on Republicans in Congress to vote no on repeal and replace. They flooded town halls, spoke to the media, called and emailed congressional offices and appeared at public events to make their case known. The strategy worked. They have been incredibly effective throughout at generating fear among congressional Republicans and making it clear that there would be high costs to voting in favor of this bill.
The irony is that the failure of the Senate bill could be the best thing to happen to Republicans. This stops them from passing legislation that could easily cause a massive backlash and creates an opportunity for moving forward with measures more attractive to their supporters, like tax cuts. But that all assumes that the dysfunction we have seen from this White House and the rightward pressure coming from within the party come to an end. The odds are that those won't. If that's the case, the defeat of health care might portend more legislative failures.
Julian Zelizer, CNN
Wednesday: A Party of Failure
The GOP controls both houses of Congress. It holds the White House. For seven years its leadership railed against ObamaCare, and its rank-and-file members voted to repeal it, over and over again. Yet here we are, six months into the Trump administration, and what has the party managed to deliver?
Nada. Zilch. Zero.
Liberals like Jonathan Chait and Michael Cohen see this as a vindication of Obama's legacy, a sign that if Democrats "expand the welfare state, they (the voters) will come.” But this whole sorry spectacle has nothing to do with the strength of liberalism in general or ObamaCare in particular. It's a product of one thing and one thing only: The complete political ineffectiveness of the contemporary Republican Party. Yes, the GOP can win elections, thanks to gerrymandering and the formidable deployment of weaponized negative partisanship. That makes it a powerful party of opposition. But when it comes to actually doing something, the GOP's got nothing.
Damon Linker, The Week
Thursday: Trump’s Failure
The Affordable Care Act was a heavy lift, and there are many who deserve credit for its passage — notably Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. But I don’t know anyone involved in that effort who thinks it could’ve been done without Obama and his White House.
The GOP’s repeal-and-replace effort was also a heavy lift, and it’s been done without the productive involvement of Trump and his White House — in fact, Trump often made the process considerably harder.
The core problem is Trump has no idea what he’s talking about on health care and never bothered to learn. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” he famously, and absurdly, said. His inability to navigate its complexities meant he couldn’t make persuasive arguments on behalf of the bills he supported, and he routinely made statements that undercut the legislative process and forced Republicans to defend the indefensible.
Ezra Klein, Vox
Friday: Only Themselves to Blame
The ascension of Donald Trump was supposed to change everything in the GOP. As it happens, perhaps one very important thing hasn’t: The Republicans may well still be The Stupid Party.
That ObamaCare repeal has one or maybe two feet in the grave, depending on how you’re counting, is testament to jaw-dropping disarray and bad faith.
On the cusp of a historic failure, the party has begun the finger-pointing, and it’s hard to argue with any of it. The establishment is right that Trump is incapable of true legislative leadership. The Trumpists are right that the establishment is ineffectual. Conservatives are right that moderates don’t really want to repeal ObamaCare, whatever they’ve said in the past. And pragmatists are right that a few conservatives are beholden to a self-defeating purity.
Rich Lowry, The New York Post
Saturday: Sean Spicer, We’ll Miss you
Today, after 183 days, 58 news conferences, one perfect “Saturday Night Live” skewering, and countless packs of stress gum, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has resigned. But first, he slammed the door in an ABC News reporter’s face.
Reports indicate that Mr. Spicer quit because President Trump had appointed Anthony Scaramucci White House communications director. After all that’s happened in the last six months, for Mr. Spicer, The Mooch was a bridge too far.
The door slam was more befitting a moody teenager than the man whose job it is to communicate, but it was the perfect, flouncing end to Mr. Spicer’s tenure. How else could a six-month run of lying, whining and whining about being asked about lying end? All that was missing was a shrieked “I hate you!”
Erin Gloria Ryan, The New York Times
Sunday: GOP Healthcare Fiasco
Anyone still inclined to pity the Senate Republicans might pause to examine Donald Trump’s taunting of them, at a meeting last Wednesday at the White House, for their failure to blow up the American health-care system. A range of Trump’s traits were on display: lying (he wildly misrepresented the terms of the most recent Senate bill); an obsession with betrayal (he complained that senators who were his friends “might not be very much longer”); hinting at retribution (he said of Dean Heller, who had helped stall an earlier version of the bill, “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”); and inconsistency (he can’t seem to decide whether he wants to replace the bill or just repeal it). The one plausible notion Trump presented at the meeting was that, under President Obama, congressional Republicans had “an easy route: we’ll repeal, we’ll replace, and he’s never going to sign it.” Trump added, “But I’m signing it.” In other words, Trump had turned the Republicans into people with a real job—a hard job—and revealed their inability to perform it.
Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker
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