Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Donald J. Trump was raised in Queens and made his billions in Manhattan. It knows him well, part of the reason he was shellacked in New York City in November, 20016. He in turn knows the area well enough that he shouldn't need his daughter, a convert to Judaism, or his son-in-law to explain to him the meaning of the word chutzpah.

Evidently, an August 9 telephone conversation between the President and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell included an argument about the Senate investigation(s) into Russian interference in the presidential election and the bill passed by Congress limiting the President's ability to reduce sanctions against Russia. It featured swearing by the President and was followed by the tweet

Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?
2:14 PM - Aug 9, 2017

When Republicans attempted for the third time to overturn the Affordable Care Act, their "skinny" repeal amendment failed as three Republicans joined all 48 Democrats in voting it down. Afterward, The Washington Post observed "On average, 55 percent of Americans opposed the GOP proposals to replace Obamacare while 22 percent supported them, according to an average of health-care polls tracked by PollingReport, which we compiled starting in March."

Mitch McConnell got 49 of 52 GOP senators to vote for the last of the three initiatives despite the overwhelming preference of American voters that the Party drop its effort.

John McCain,  whom Senate Republicans successfully persuaded to return to Washington despite recovery in the hospital from a brain tumor, was one of the only three Republicans to vote it down.

McCain's own explanation suggests that he thought that if the amendment were approved, it might be passed unchanged by the House of Representatives, thus denied the normal process McCain evidently wanted it to face.

But that might have occurred with either of the other two amendments, both of which passed by healthy margins and both of which McCain voted for.  When his vote was critical, in what McConnell had largely acknowledged was the do-or-die moment, the Arizona senator voted "no."

Perhaps Senator McCain, whose health imperils a Senate career which- at his age- may have been drawing to a  close anyway, considered a legacy he didn't want marred by a bill which would have resulted in 15 million Americans losing their health insurance.  Still, there may have been an additional reason: revenge is a dish best served cold. We recall July 2015 when

Mr. Trump upended a Republican presidential forum here, and the race more broadly, by saying of the Arizona senator and former prisoner of war: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr. McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner for more than five years in Hanoi, refusing early release even after being repeatedly beaten.

If this played a role in Senator McCain's vote, it is not merely a matter of being vindictive.   Trump's remark a little more than two years ago brought into stark relief early in the campaign the nature of the individual which would become ever more obvious the longer the campaign (and now the presidency) went on.

Twenty-five months later President Trump, who once denied the senator the credit every politician and pundit and nearly every American has given him, now has been denied a major legislative victory by that same John McCain.   President Trump, who figuratively pointed to John McCain and said "he's a loser," has become the loser.

And now he blames master parliamentarian Mitch McConnell, who knows the Senate and what drives it better than (arguably) anyone, for the failure to "repeal and replace Obamacare." That, as Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many people could tell him, is a textbook example of chutzpah.

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