The emperor has no clothes


By Scott Robertson

Obamacare remains the law of the land.


The Senate this week failed to agree to a “repeal and replace” package, having already rejected the House’s plan out of hand. Moderates like Maine’s Susan Collins couldn’t stomach the bill’s Medicaid cuts. She didn’t outright call Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that the bill would strengthen Medicaid a lie, but she did say he was wrong, something Republican elected officials, under the Reagan doctrine, rarely say about each other in public. On the other side of the party, Kentucky’s Rand Paul went further, saying the repeal bill was not actually a repeal at all.

In the November elections, my Grand Old Party proved to the world that the Democrats are a party without leadership, direction or a moral compass. It has taken till now for us to prove the same thing about ourselves.

With clear-cut majorities in the House and Senate, and the White House and Supreme Court under GOP control, we are wasting an historic opportunity. In a White House-driven rush to “keep winning,” we’re somehow losing to an opponent who’s already flat on the canvas.

From Paul Ryan to Mitch McConnell, our congressional leaders are heeding the White House’s urging to “get things done” quickly instead of taking the time to govern well. Rushing bad bills to the floor is not leadership. For their part, Ryan and McConnell must be furious with Trump’s demanding yet unhelpful approach.

As the Senate repeal and replace effort was falling apart this week, the deal-maker-in-chief lobbied senators by courageously and with great integrity flying to Paris to have dinner at the Eiffel Tower. After that he ominously tweeted that he would be very upset if the bill didn’t pass in the Senate, then made a cunning strategic pivot, launching an intensive two-day fact-finding mission to a women’s golf tournament.

At this point, the President is no longer wielding power. He is merely distracting from the fact that nobody is wielding power.

We must, as a party, hit the reset button on 2017. It’s time to stop pretending that the future is still so bright we have to wear shades, when we have made such a dog’s breakfast of the present. Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. If you don’t see that we need to rethink our approach, then those aren’t shades you’re wearing. They’re blinders.

The President has done nothing to prove to skittish moderates that he can protect them from challengers in the next elections, so all things being equal, they’re going to keep charting their own course. Influential conservatives like George Will, Charles Krauthammer and Jamie Dimon have lost faith completely.

With the party hemorrhaging supporters from both sides, what the GOP needs today is a leader capable of unifying a majority. What the party needs is Howard Baker, but he’s somewhere far above us, presumably shaking his head in frustration. Baker, the Tennessee senator who was known as “the great conciliator,” was famous for being able to take senators from both sides of the aisle, get them into a room, and move them from intractable positions to a workable consensus.

Right now we can’t even do that amongst ourselves.

What this party needs is a leader.

What this nation needs is a leader.


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