Perry Bacon Jr. Tuesday afternoon tweeted "People mocked how aggressively Trump has gone after Heller. Looks like Trump was right. Heller has moved to helping GOP on health care." The inept loser of a President needed a win, any win, and he got it as Senator after Senator looked him in the eye and flinched.
The vote by Nevada Republican Dean Heller to proceed with debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act was not inconsequential, for it was the crucial 50th vote in the Senate, with VP Mike Pence getting it to 51.
Once upon a time- three weeks ago- on a motion to proceed, Senator Heller declared "if this is the language on that procedural motion on Tuesday, I won't be voting for it." A couple of weeks earlier, he had stated “This bill would mean a loss of coverage for millions of Americans and many Nevadans. I’m telling you right now, I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”“ He added "In this form, I will not support it. It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes. They have a lot of work to do.”
President Trump did the work, in what probably was a serendipitous bad cop, good cop routine with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. At a breakfast reception for the Party's Senate caucus last Wednesday, Heller sat next to Trump, who remarked
This one was the one we were worried about. You weren't there. But you're going to be. You're going to be. Look, he wants to remain a Senator, doesn't he? Okay. And I think the people of your state- which I know very well- I think they're going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.
Heller folded, but not as dramatically as The Senator You're Thinking Of. Dramatically transported from a hospital bed, he lectured
Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order. We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That's an approach that's been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.
And then he reminded us that a moment earlier he had "voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It's a shell of a bill right now. We all know that."
For those keeping score at home, that was 53 weeks to the day that the guy he gave a big victory to, who desperately wanted his vote, had maintained the veteran of the Hanoi Hilton "is not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Charlie Pierce reminds us
In 2000, George W. Bush's campaign slandered him and his young daughter, and radical fundamentalist Christians joined in so eagerly that McCain delivered the best speech of his career, calling those people "agents of intolerance." By 2006, he was on Meet The Press, which ultimately always was the constituency he cared most about, saying that the late Jerry Falwell was no longer an agent of intolerance. He was hugging Bush, and he was speaking at Liberty University. All of this seems to support the theory that the best way to win over John McCain is to treat him as badly as possible.
It's also true, however, that McCain's wife Cindy is "reportedly poised to take a job in Trump's State Department," which shouldn't come as a shock, given that the current Secretary of Transportation is Mitch McConnell's wife Elaine Chao, a truly fortuitous coincidence.
Still, until Republicans realize the best way to deal with a scoundrel like Donald Trump is "just say no," the President will find a Dean Heller, John McCain, or some other patsy in the Republican Party caucus.
This blog will be on hiatus until Monday, July 31. Please come back then.