The Week on Planet Trump: Winning in Georgia, the Perverse President Pushes His Losing Agenda
Monday: Understanding Trump's Tantrums
“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story,” he tweeted. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history -- led by some very bad and conflicted people!”
Where to start with the distorted thinking exhibited in these tweets? On collusion, Trump is, at best, premature; there is not “zero proof” but a continuing investigation into campaign and transition contacts between Trump associates and Russian operatives -- contacts that Trump aides have consistently minimized if not lied about directly.
As to obstruction, Trump’s wounds are entirely self-inflicted. He has seemed determined -- frantic, really -- to see that the case against fired national security adviser Michael Flynn is dropped. If you credit Comey’s sworn account over Trump’s news conference denials, Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty; pressed him to drop the case against Flynn; and eventually fired Comey himself because of his handling of “this Russia thing.” As Comey might say, no reasonable prosecutor would fail to investigate in these circumstances.
Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post
Tuesday: Worse than Nixon
When not even the White House can get its story straight, what are we to believe? In this case, from everything Comey said in his testimony and everything the Post reported, we can believe Trump and not his hired gun: The president of the United States is under criminal investigation for possible obstruction of justice.
Ironically, June 19 was the 45th anniversary of the first Washington Post story about Watergate. Ironic, because there are so many similarities between the two: a president known for telling lies, under investigation for obstruction of justice, who tries to get off the hook by firing Justice Department officials leading the investigation.
The difference is that Watergate was about a second-rate burglary; Kremlingate’s about a foreign adversary trying to steal a presidential election. Kremlingate is just like Watergate, in other words. Only worse.
Bill Press, The Hill
Wednesday: Plenty for Democrats to Fight For
Democrats will need to brace themselves. Republicans are going to get a little wind in their sails from this victory. It will give Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) a momentary reprieve from the doubts and griping they are hearing from their caucus. And for the time being they may be able to keep vulnerable members in line.
But Republicans are far from being in the clear. And Democrats have a lot left to fight for.
Jen Psaki, CNN
Thursday: Georgia Gut Punch
Democrats were counting on Ossoff, the boy wonder of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, to deliver the proof that, with Donald Trump in the White House, there was no limit to their political potential. But after a frenzied two-month runoff campaign between Ossoff and his Republican opponent, Karen Handel, the Democrat wound up with about the same proportion of the vote—48 percent—as Hillary Clinton got here in November. If this race was a referendum on Trump, the president won it.
It was a gut punch to Democrats’ confidence, a reality check to the idea that vast swaths of the country were ready to deliver a backlash. And it was the capstone to a losing season in which Democrats failed to capture any of the four Republican-held seats vacated by Trump’s cabinet appointees.
Molly Ball, The Atlantic
Friday: Fake Democracy
Our fake democracy reveals itself daily. Less than a third of Americans support President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. In a truly representative government, you would see the other two-thirds, the common-sense majority, howling from the halls of Congress.
Most Americans are also against building a wall along the Mexican border. They would prefer putting taxpayers’ billions into roads, bridges, schools and airports. But the wall remains a key part of President Trump’s agenda.
Trump is president, of course, despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million people. Almost 60 percent of the public is against him now. In a parliamentary system, he’d be thrown out in a no-confidence vote. In our system, he’s primed to change life for every citizen, against the wishes of a majority of Americans. Try calling that a democracy while keeping a straight face.
Timothy Egan, The New York Times
Saturday: Perverse Presidency
I was mulling, as one does, over this presidency, and something crystallized in my head that I had not quite grasped before. Its policies are best described as simply perverse. The new Senate health-care bill is just the latest shining example. As Peter Suderman explains, it certainly isn’t based on any serious conservative ideas about reforming health care; it has no vision of how it wants health care to be organized; the loss of health care for the working poor will be most intense in Republican districts; and, just as important, a huge amount of it is simply kicked into the future — and could easily be forestalled or nullified by future Congresses and presidents. For good measure, by ending many of the taxes in the bill that make it work, and by removing the individual mandate, it risks sending the insurance markets into a deeper crisis.
So what on earth is the point? For Trump, it seems to me, the whole point is to have a “win.” He doesn’t give a shit about what the bill actually contains. He’ll just lie about it afterward and assume his cult followers will believe him. For Ryan, it’s just a way to make a future tax cut for the superrich more budget-friendly, while pushing the political costs of shredding Medicaid onto some future sucker
Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine
Sunday: Endangering Democracy
By Frum’s definition, Trump is indeed an aspiring autocrat. But he’s only one wing of the anti-democratic trend in American politics—in the Republican Party, to be specific. Equally dangerous, and intimately connected with Trump’s mode of authoritarianism, is the degradation of democratic norms in the Senate under Mitch McConnell. The majority leader and a dozen other senators—all of them male—wrote their Obamacare repeal bill in secret, concealed not only from the public and Democrats, but even their Republican colleagues. Now, having finally released his version of the American Health Care Act on Sunday, McConnell is trying to force the bill through the Senate as quickly as possible. A vote is expected next week, meaning the public and press have only a few days to pore through the 142-page document—and even fewer days to digest the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis, which is expected on Monday or Tuesday.
Compare this with the Democrats’ legislative approach to the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have long lied that Democrats rammed Obamacare into law, when in truth, as The New York Timesreported this week, there were “months of debate that included more than 20 hearings, at least 100 hours of committee meetings and markups, more than 130 amendments considered and at least 79 roll-call votes.”
Jeet Heer, New Republic
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