He charmed. He threatened. He cajoled. It didn’t matter:

Trump fashioned himself as the master dealmaker. His senior aides described him as “an extremely good listener” and said his negotiating skills were the product of “total natural talent,” saying he could turn up the heat or the charm as needed.

But the negotiations over the bill’s substance took place mostly at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump had amicable meetings with members of all stripes but found himself caught in the middle of factional House GOP dramas that have been simmering for years. As one member of the House Freedom Caucus described it: “We’re competing with Ryan. We like Trump.”


As the odds for success fluttered, Trump increasingly came to relish the fight, seeing the sprint for passage as a test of whether he could translate abilities from the boardroom to the Oval Office.

Among the lawmakers he courted most intensely was Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Trump brought him to the Oval Office, called him regularly and directed White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon to call or text him daily. Last weekend, Meadows even journeyed to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private Florida club, to huddle with Bannon and other aides about the bill.

Meadows said his mantra in negotiating with Trump had been, “If this was about personalities, we’d already be at ‘yes.’ He’s charming, and anyone who spends time with him knows that. But this is about policy, and we’re not going to make it about anything else.”

For Meadows, a sticking point was essential health-benefit requirements under the current law for insurance companies, such as maternity and newborn care, and substance-abuse treatment, which he wanted removed and replaced with narrower rules.

Meadows and other Freedom Caucus members met with Trump and Pence at the White House on Thursday, but they left without a deal, even after Trump had worked with them for weeks — leaving Trump’s advisers exasperated with the ornery bloc.

It was not only the Freedom Caucus creating problems for Trump. A group of more moderate Republicans, known as the Tuesday Group, stood opposed to the bill, despite the president’s pleadings.

One such member, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), attended meetings at the White House and praised Trump’s style, saying the president clearly “knows Jersey.” But, he added, the bill would harm his constituents who rely on Medicaid and there was nothing Trump could say to persuade him otherwise.

“He’s got this wit about him that I enjoy,” Lance said, “but I’m a ‘no’ vote.”

While there’s no reason to think that Trump is good at presidenting (or Ryan as good at legislating), and I’m as happy to make jokes about them as anyone, I see no reason to believe that this would have been any different with Rubio or Cruz or Jeb! in the White House. Both Republican factions have their own interests, the marginal votes weren’t there, that dat’s dat. Both sides liked Trump, and in the districts on the right margin Trump is popular. It just doesn’t matter. At bottom, presidents can’t get legislators to vote for stuff they really don’t want to vote for.

Since I’ve been often been critical of heighten-the-contradictions and all-or-nothing tactics, let me be clear that I strongly endorse such tactics when used by the right. I hope they’ll endorse more onanistic vanity voting too!

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  • efgoldman

    Wonder how the owner of the truck feels about Mango Malignancy taking a steaming dump in the driver’s seat.

    • Warren Terra

      I kinda assume the owner is some giant corporation that loves what Trump is going to do to OSHA and overtime rules, and a lot else besides.

      • efgoldman

        and a lot else besides.

        Driverless trucks, baby.[/Dick Vitale voice]

        • farin

          (Proof of concept displayed in the header.)

        • sigaba

          A professional acquaintance of mine (I’m in suite 206, he’s in suite 205) did the sound design for the driverless trucks in Logan. We both agreed that if driverless trucks ever came to pass, they would be just as homicidal and thoughtless as the driverless trucks in the movie.

        • Howlin Wolfe

          I’ve often thought there should be a Dick Vitale font.

    • los
      • efgoldman


        Saw that yesterday. Cracked me up.

    • Humpty-Dumpty

      I’ve observed to several friends that Cheetolini’s expression is very similar to that of a 1-year-old filling his diaper.

      • Indeed. How the fuck is he “charming”? I think he is about the most horrid, repulsive person of whom I am aware. A vulgar, egomaniacal bully.

        • efgoldman

          he is about the most horrid, repulsive person of whom I am aware.

          I think it’s a real close thing with Granny Starver, and also with anyone of the many, many ’round the bend total nutcakes in various traitor state legislatures – the “rape is a blessing…” crowd. Repulsive on their best days.

    • It’s not just that Trump is on track to be the worst president ever after only 60 days in office, but he’s just such a fucking vile and despicable human being. It boggles the mind.

  • randy khan

    Not to say that Trump could have done this if he had the skills, but the real art of this kind of negotiation is figuring out something that both sides want and focusing them on getting there. It’s more like mediation, though, and Trump doesn’t understand much but brute force.

    • Warren Terra

      But of course the key point is that there was a real goal for the ACA: to cover people. Lots of disagreements about how, and how much, and in what ways precisely, but in the end a shared goal, and a willingness to bleed for it. This collection of schmucks had only two goals: to give money to rich folks, and not to be shellacked at the polls next time. That wasn’t enough.

      Still, the idea that Trump – who spent last weekend in Mar-a-Lago and golfing – was putting his nose to the grindstone for this was always laughable. And, I’ll point out, he has nothing on his public schedule all weekend but clearly wasn’t interested in spending that time twisting arms.

      • efgoldman

        This collection of schmucks had only two goals: to give money to rich folks, and not to be shellacked at the polls next time

        Oh, some of them, starting with the “speaker”, really DO want to get the government out of health insurance. This is the same asshole crowd who thought they were going to privatize social security 20+ years ago. [Gawd, was it that long?]

        • los

          When thefederalist, redstate, nro, heartlandwerks, etc. stop referring to ACA as “Obamacare”, and refer to ACA as “ACA”, they’ll begin forever cursing ACA as the second coming of Social Security.

          but for now, GOP has already begun their sabotage plan: http://fortune.com/2017/03/24/ahca-fails-obamacare-future/

        • Marlowe

          Actually it wasn’t that long ago. Bush’s thwarted major effort to privatize Social Security was in 2005, only twelve years ago.

          • efgoldman

            Bush’s thwarted major effort to privatize Social Security was in 2005, only twelve years ago.

            Maybe I don’t count so well late at night, Didn’t look right when I typed it.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          This is the same asshole crowd who thought they were going to privatize social security 20+ years ago. [Gawd, was it that long?]

          They’re baaaack!

        • Hogan

          “Hi, I’d like the government out of health insurance, hold the smoking rubble and death in the streets.”

          “I’m sorry, sir, the smoking rubble and death in the streets comes with the government out of health insurance.”

          “Are you sure?”


          “Then I’ll just have the tax cuts for the rich. That comes with less smoking rubble and death in the streets, right?”

          “A bit less, yes, sir.”

          “Excellent. And a roasted baby for starters.”

          “Baby asparagus, sir?”

          “No, a baby. And a bottle of the ’78 Chateau de Bocastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape.”

      • randy khan

        Yeah, finding the common goal would be a problem for the Republicans here.

        • Derelict

          For the GOP as a whole, though, finding the common goal isn’t enough. The party really has lost the knowledge, skills, and ability to govern. And by that I mean they don’t know how to formulate and write legislation that is any more complex than stripping an agency of a function or repealing/reducing a specific tax.

          I think this is rooted in their childish “understanding” of government–government always bad, always big, always to be railed against (except when the subject is sex or guns).

          • efgoldman

            The party really has lost the knowledge, skills, and ability to govern.

            How many years since they actually produced a budget? Not since Granny Starver took over, and not before that, either. Continuing resolutions as far as the eye can see….

            Oh, and the debt ceiling is coming up again, soon (technically it already should have). Do you think Amber Asswipe knows, understands, or cares about that any more than about medical insurance?

            • Thom

              They passed on in 2015, but it had been several years before that.

              • Thom

                Aaargggh, “passed one,” (not “on”).

                • N__B

                  You raised my hopes for a moment.

          • guthrie

            At the state level haven’t they been relying on lots of legislation written for them by ALEC for over a decade? Therefore someone else has done their homework for them. The current generation of them has no idea how to do anything for themselves except shout and scream to the party faithful.

      • aab84

        I mean, there is actually a shared health care goal for 95% of Republican elected officials: end government involvement in health care because it’s immoral to take money from rich people to pay for poor people’s health care.

        They just can’t say that. And now that there are various popular government intrusions in the field (Medicare, Medicaid, popular portions of Obamacare), they can’t pursue it either if they want to remain electorally viable. And that’s where they break down. The Freedom Caucus mostly says “screw electoral viability. The principle is the thing.” Other members disagree for obvious reasons, but can’t agree on how to minimize government involvement without pissing everyone off. This is what happens when your genuine beliefs are unpopular with like 80% of the population.

        • los

          they can’t pursue it either if they want to remain electorally viable. And that’s where they break down.

          Yep. Enough voters Koch-Block the Koch machine.

          The Freedom Caucus mostly says “screw electoral viability. The principle is the thing.”

          Actually, districts of ‘Freedom Carcass’ Koch machine cogs are gerrymandered (etc) enough that voters cannot Koch-Block those cogs.

        • cpinva

          “This is what happens when your genuine beliefs are unpopular with like 80% of the population.”

          which leads to the obvious question: how did the “Freedom Caucus” members get elected to begin with? they weren’t shy about telling everyone what they wanted during their election campaigns. at least 50.01% of the voters in their respective districts voted for them, even though 80% of those voters didn’t like their beliefs. the math is not adding up.

          • NeonTrotsky

            Honestly how many of their voters do you think understand Obamacare? Most likely, if they are buying insurance their interest goes so far as being mad about higher premiums/deductibles and believing that regulations from obamacare are to blame

            • Cheerfull

              the voters want freedom and low premiums. The Freedom Caucus tells them they will get freedom and low premiums and are good at making the pitch because they genuinely believe it. America and its Congress are full of people not inclined to sweat the details.

            • efgoldman

              how many of their voters do you think understand Obamacare?

              You’ll recall that the people in Kentucky really, really loved their KYNECT Medicaid and subsidized insurance, and really, really hated Obamacare, such that they voted in a governor who vowed to take it away (and then couldn’t. for the same reason they couldn’t pass the ACHA in DC).
              Yeah, you know and I know….

          • efgoldman

            how did the “Freedom Caucus” members get elected to begin with?

            1) Turnout, lack of.
            2) Once they’re in, the dual benefits of incumbency + gerrymandering, + (1) above.

            And yes, there are some districts, mostly populated with christofascist bible bangers, which really are that kkkrazy.

          • Karen24

            By campaigning against hippies and courting the few people with money in their districts. Also lots of church picnics. That’s all it takes in rural districts.

            • los

              msnbc is the only centrist or left media (cable or satellite) except nearest small city paper (if not owned by a kook) and the capital city paper.
              and only the public library staff reads newspapers.

              other sometime exceptions are a public radio run from state college (mostly opera and classical music). Public TV from the capital often out of broadcast range.

      • nemdam

        Of the many myths about Trump that are ridiculous – that he tells it like it is, that he gets things done, that he’s a good businessman – one that doesn’t get debunked enough is that he’s a hard worker. I have heard even many Trump haters say that he works hard. But this has always been baloney. It’s why he didn’t raise a ton of money during the campaign, why he never set up a good field operation, why he never studies his policies, why he riffs all the time at rallies and interviews instead of preparing remarks, why he goes to Mar-A-Lago every weekend, etc. So it’s no surprise that he gave up on something after 3 weeks. The only thing he works hard at is exacting revenge on someone he wounds his ego, like the media.

  • DamnYankees

    Buy guys, Obama totally would have gotten single payer past Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu if he really wanted to. He just didn’t try!

    • Scott Lemieux

      Also, as Matt Stoller and Jane Hamsher pointed out had the left of the Democratic caucus just held out for an escalating serious of demands, every Democrat would have ultimately been forced to go along. Alas, they were too cowardly to leave the veal pen and voted for the Heritage Plan to bail out the health insurance industry.

      • StellaB

        And if the Democrat party hadn't totally shut Bernie Sanders out and forced him to be an independent, he would have convinced the party to vote for single payer.

      • Harkov311

        I love how the Stollers and Hamshers of the world keep talking about how the plan came out of the Heritage Foundation, while conveniently ignoring the fact that, if conservatives were in any way serious about passing it, they could have done so during the Bush Jr. presidency. It’s like they actually think that plan was put forward in good faith. Adorable.

        • nemdam

          I seriously do not understand how someone like Matt Stoller who has been working in politics professionally for awhile doesn’t understand this. How can you be involved in politics this much and still be this gullible? It’s like working in college basketball for a decade and think it’s not all about money.

    • Spider-Dan

      I think one of the massively understated lessons of this circus is that Nancy Pelosi is A Boss Ass Bitch.

      She herded her cats to not only vote for the ACA, but to pass a version with a public option in it. She straight up told her caucus that voting for this might cost them their seats, but that passing legislation was the reason they were there.

      And during this entire debacle, you did not hear ANY media outlets reporting about defections from the Democrats, because Nancy ain’t got no time for that effing nonsense.

      We are lucky that they don’t have anyone as competent as Nancy Pelosi on their side, and instead have a bunch of clowns that can’t help but step on their own dicks.

      • Nancy was enjoying herself the other day talking to the press about what a bunch of boners Trump and Ryan had stumbled into. I think she’s been a great Democratic leader and I’m glad that her greatest legislative victory seems safe for now. I do hope that if the Dems retake the House in 2018 or 2020 that she has a plan for a successor, because, like… well done thou good and faithful servant, but there definitely comes a time for new blood.

        • StellaB

          Too old or too female?

          • los

            “Old”. Her speaking voice has a ‘public perception’ problem. But do many voters hear Pelosi speak? Do many of those voters remember as elections approach? And do many of those decide (any) votes based on remembering Pelosi’s speaking voice?

            • los

              Ignore this age factor.
              Democratic members of the House have by far best experience interacting and observing House party leader skills vs guesstimating challengers skills.

              • los

                Related topic:
                I have wondered if Democrats need stronger matriculation/succession processes… or are those already realistically near best?

            • StellaB

              Also older women are viewed as “old women” while older men are “elder statesmen”.

              As an older woman, I have to admit that the period where you become completely invisible to men is startling, but actually pretty nice. Invisibility is a super-power, after all. Except in airplanes when the young guy in the seat next to you sets his laptop on your head because he doesn’t see that you’re already sitting in the seat.

              • petesh

                Yeah, becoming invisible is even worse than becoming “safe” (of course some guys never do) but charming cops is a minor side benefit, occasionally to be used for valuable purposes.

              • los

                period where you become completely invisible to men

                gradual transistion? during approximate ages 30 through 50? 40 through 60?

              • los

                StellaB says:

                young guy in the seat next to you sets his laptop on your head because he doesn’t see that you’re already sitting in the seat.

                but you can osmotically steal the contacts list for his big contract deals.

      • The Lorax

        Truly one of the greatest ever Speakers of the House.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        I think one of the massively understated lessons of this circus is that Nancy Pelosi is A Boss Ass Bitch.

        That he was beaten by a girl must make it even worse.

        • Derelict

          Beaten by a girl twice! Hillary winning the popular vote, Nancy filetting him over Obamacare repeal.

          • los

            Cheeto is best served crispy and smashed.

          • Hogan

            Pelosi only won because of all the illegal representatives.

            • los

              illegal representatives

              I read about that.. in a trumptweet!
              3 milion illegal california illegals voting in the senate.
              Project Veritas has the video11

        • efgoldman

          That he was beaten by a girl must make it even worse.

          Actually it was a 100% own goal, she just stood there and watched and had a laugh or two.
          But if Tangelo Tantrum wants to think she beat him, that’s fine.

          • StellaB

            She prevented the herd from panicking and starting a stampede.

            • EliHawk

              Right. Like in 2005, holding the caucus together and not giving any cover or votes to the GOP was crucial in making sure it went down to defeat.

      • Sly

        Dylan Matthews has a piece at Vox comparing Ryan to Pelosi. Best Part:

        Ryan has never really had to do the behind-the-scenes corralling that being speaker entails. What he is good at, as Jentleson notes, is doing media, but that’s peripheral to the job. The president and his team can do media; the speaker stays low-profile and does the work. Nancy Pelosi is famously hard to interview, and was never a favorite among reporters the way Ryan is. But she was a far more effective speaker.

        The example that always comes to mind to me is one that Tom Perriello, a Democrat who served one term in the House from a very red district in Virginia from 2009 to 2011 (and is now running for governor) told Ezra Klein back in December 2010. Perriello was weighing whether to vote for the DREAM Act, which would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. “There was the whole question of whether the Senate would support it,” he told Klein. “And I didn’t want to do this if it was just going to die in the Senate.”

        Then the lobbying started. “I got a call from [Education Secretary] Arne Duncan, and he began telling me about the individual anecdotes of guys that he worked with in Chicago who needed this legislation,” Perriello recalled. “There were strong Latino organizing networks that began moving, and someone I went to second grade with called and was like, ‘Tom, you might not vote for the DREAM Act? I know we haven’t talked in 32 years, but…’ A few of my friends from college started to call. Several people contacted colleagues I’d had in past jobs, so now they’re writing me. ‘Dude, I haven’t been following this, but I’ve heard from six people today that I have to call you about the DREAM Act….’”

        This is how Pelosi whipped votes. She got the administration involved, she got outside groups involved, she got random figures from Congress members’ pasts involved. She was really, really good at it. And it all happened quietly, without anyone watching or applauding.

        Paul Ryan did none of this. He didn’t, as Pelosi did, work to get key interest groups like pharma, the insurance companies, and the AARP on board. He didn’t have unanimity among conservative groups and funders the way she did with liberal ones. He didn’t take the time over months to individually lobby swing legislators the way Pelosi did so expertly. Instead, he tried to rush through legislation in a single week that the Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, the AARP, the American Medical Association — basically every think tank and interest group on either side of the aisle — vehemently opposed. It was ridiculous and amateurish.

        • That sort of stuff wouldn’t influence Republican Congressmen because it only works if you have a conscience.

          • Hogan

            And friends.

        • nemdam

          Goddamn that is a hell of a story.

          Another way to contrast the two is Ryan is what happens when someone gets the job who only knows about it from watching TV and reading the internet. He thinks if he can craft an ideologically satisfying bill that has all the big elements that the party base wants, then getting the votes is a fait accompli. But Pelosi knows that’s not how it works, and that constructing legislation is actually about knowing the needs of each individual legislator and meticulously crafting a detailed bill that can satisfy every stakeholder. It’s a collaborative, iterative, messy process that’s more about relationship building than expressing ideology that satisfies TV viewers.

          Pelosi is a baws.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        She straight up told her caucus that voting for this might cost them their seats, but that passing legislation was the reason they were there.

        Can you imagine Ryan telling his fellow Republicans this?

        Can you imagine any of them being persuaded by this if he did?

        My KS Democratic representative voted for the ACA and lost his seat in the next election. This kind of public service is rare.

        • David Allan Poe

          Ryan would find a guy that knew them in second grade and try to get him to call them and he would be like “That asshole? That kid was a bully. Fuck him, and fuck you for reminding me about him.”

    • Phil Perspective

      Obama totally would have gotten single payer past Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu if he really wanted to.

      How did it work out for those fuckers? Bayh, Nelson, HolyJoe and Mary Landrieu are no longer in the Senate.

      • Bayh retired. Nelson retired. Lieberman retired. Landrieu was defeated for reelection. I bet they all wish they had voted against the Affordable Care Act! That’s what you mean, right?

        • wjts

          If Debbie Wasserman Shultz hadn’t torpedoed single-payer, they all would have wanted to stay in the Senate!

          • It’s classic Phil because it doesn’t even make sense as a retort to what he’s responding to. He’s talking to the parallel universe where people here are saying “boy, those moderate Dems sure were great for opposing single payer! what a good decision they all made!” He just hooks onto keywords and belches out invective in the vague direction of whatever he saw, wrapped in a “LOL! Do you believe [whatever]?!”

            • marduk

              Look, a Democratic politician was mentioned favorably. Of course Phil is going to remind us that in fact, the Democrats suck. It’s not going to necessarily have anything to do with the topic at hand. It’s just the way the bot is coded.

        • The Lorax

          This upsets me all over again. We’d have a public option and buy-in to Medicare if not for Nelson and Lieberman.

          • Morse Code for J

            Or if the Democrats had simply ended the filibuster for everything then, even if it meant Senators would have to take responsibility for each and every vote.

      • wjts

        You do realize that of those four, only Landrieu actually ran for reelection after the passage of the ACA, right?

        • efgoldman

          You do realize that…

          You realize that you’re talking to leftier-than-thou Phil, who just comes here to tell us that Democrats aren’t worth electing because we never do anything positive for people.
          If it wasn’t for the brevity, I might think he was a sock puppet for Glennie or Freddie

        • The others were AFRAID to!!1!

      • UserGoogol

        Politicians are often irrational. Politics would be a lot simpler if it was a bunch of rational philosopher-kings who could just agree to do the sensible thing, but they’re not. We have stubborn jerks who are elected by apathetic voters and all we can do is find the best they’ll accept.

    • benjoya

      not for nothing, but saying since trump can not do any of this green lanterning, it doesn’t necessarily follow that obama, an actual smart person with actual political skills, would be similarly impotent. the hippie punching grows even more tiresome.

      • saying since trump can not do any of this green lanterning, it doesn’t necessarily follow that obama, an actual smart person with actual political skills, would be similarly impotent

        He wasn’t. He got them to pass comprehensive health reform despite the huge political risks involved – and many of them indeed paid the price in future elections. But he and his team took the time to carefully craft a bill that could get buy-in from enough people to pass – which Trump and Ryan abjectly failed to do.

        What Obama couldn’t have done – and what Trump could not do – was force lawmakers to vote for something they really did not support.

        the hippie punching grows even more tiresome.

        I feel the term “hippie punching” has, at this point, lost most of whatever meaning it once had – now it’s just an all-purpose whinge used by certain people to deflect criticism.

        • benjoya

          fine, this anti-anti-establishmentarianism grows tiresome. too left-whinge for you?

          • Too “left whinge”, yes. A “left wing” position is to argue that we can and should do better than what we got with the ACA. A “left whinge” position is to whine that people are being mean the moment they make counter-arguments. A significant distinction, I hope you’ll agree.

            • Btw, thank you for coining the phrase “left whinge”, I shall definately have to remember to use that in future.

              To get to a better health care system that covers everyone, we must be prepared to make convincing arguments, both about the content of proposals and the process of making them a reality. In terms of the latter, no doubt there are lessons we can learn from the ACA legislative process that would help us in future attempts to improve the system.

              If, however, our analysis of the ACA legislative process is critiqued for being unrealistic, simply saying “I’m tired of hearing this kind of critique” does nothing to make our analysis any more convincing, insightful or helpful. Rather, it suggests that we’re not interested in participating in a debate or discussion at all.

      • petesh

        I was a hippie. Bernie was not. Jerry Garcia was. Mario Savio was not. Many of my best friends were not. But it is a blatantly ridiculous term to use as a generic boast on the part of soi-disant modern-day leftists.

        • petesh

          Dammit, I intended to indicate laughter after the “best friends”

        • benjoya

          “soi-disant modern-day leftists”? sounds like you could use an editor, voltaire.

          • “Soi-disent” is French for “self-proclaimed”.

            • benjoya

              i know that. i said editor, not translator.

  • Murc

    Trump fashioned himself as the master dealmaker.

    Here’s a thing about Trump I’m certain enough about in my own mind to put about in public: Trump isn’t a dealmaker. And I don’t mean that in the “he’s a grifter who is so bad at grifting he can’t even make money running a casino, the greasiest of greasy con-men” sense.

    What Trump is is a salesman. And that’s rather different.

    I’ve done a lot of reading up on the man, for obvious reasons, and there’s a fair amount of evidence that Trump is actually very good at making a sale. Otherwise intelligent people have bought what he is selling, and more than one person has said that in-person, especially in a small setting, Trump actually has a kind of intense charisma and persuasiveness; that in another life, he would be the top earner at a used-car dealership or a local real estate company. He’d make tons of sales to people he’d met two hours ago and will forget two minutes after they sign.

    But there’s a difference between making a sale and making a deal. Dealmaking is actually hard; you have to build trust, you have to establish long-term relationships, you need a mastery of your area of expertise. Barack Obama was a dealmaker. So was Hillary Clinton. It’s slow, grinding work.

    Trump doesn’t have that. He’s never had that. His entire career is a lurch from one failed deal to the next and his Presidency is no different. Trump closed the sale, with some help with the FBI; he got himself elected. But once elected you have to make deals.

    And he’s no good at that.

    • farin

      In Trump Town there’s exactly one deal, endlessly repeated: You give Donnie your money, he gives you nothing. If you make any other deal, you’re a loser, and Trump never makes any other deal, so he’s the best at deal-making. He never loses!

    • efgoldman

      Trump doesn’t have that. He’s never had that.

      He’s also a dealmaker in his “mind” because he makes “deals” by exercising his financial power over people who can’t fight back.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Bingo – this approach is really really doomed/ stupid when you’re dealing with sovereign currencies, nuclear powers, etc.

      • gmack

        I think Ezra Klein gets this right. He’s fine at making deals that make him (and maybe his partner) a little bit of short-term money by lending his name to some bargain-basement crap. He doesn’t care about the product he’s selling, and he doesn’t care about whether the consumer has a good experience with it. This is good, as Murc says, if your goal is simply to “make the sale” and move on; it’s also pretty good if your goal is simply to increase your media presence and keep people talking about you. It’s a terrible skill set for the kind of deals that need to be made in governance, however. As numerous reports have illustrated, one of the reasons why he was an ineffective dealmaker for the AHCA is that he didn’t actually understand what was in the bill, nor did he understand the political opposition to it. When you don’t know what positive things the bill might produce, and you don’t know why some constituencies might be opposed to it, it’s well-nigh impossible to come up with ways to get recalcitrant people on board with the policy.

    • dmsilev

      The other thing is that Trump has had a long pattern of burning the people that he’s worked with on a given project, secure in the knowledge that there’s always another bank or another set of subcontractors or whatever so there’s no real cost to screwing over the current batch.

      That …doesn’t translate well to dealing with the US Congress.

      • patrick II

        Trump ran out of banks after his numerous bankruptcies. The front bank for Russian dirty money, Deutsch, and Russians themselves through overpaying on real estate deals, have been Trumps financiers since at least 2010. There wasn’t always “another bank”, and that is a large part of his Russian problem now.

      • Warren Terra

        Yeah, this idea that Trump is some great deal maker really come into question when you recall that in fact he’s basically never had any sort of business relationship – with a vendor, a customer, or a partner – that didn’t involve him lying to, cheating, and stealing from them, and often breaking the terms of the deal and finding some way to get away with it. When you make a great deal, and especially when you do so with a coequal branch of government and setting policy for decades, you have to establish a deal honestly, and stick by its terms. It’s something he knows nothing about.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          He’s good at “winning” deals*, walking away the clear winner and leaving the guy across the table the clear loser. Unfortunately, those deals tend to be ones where his counterpart is either desperate to get something and/ vastly less wealthy/ lawyered than Trump. When the guy across the table isn’t an HVAC contractor from Manahawkin you can just stiff, but is, say, China, or a 5-term Congressperson in a safe seat, it maybe doesnt work so well.

          * (because he seemingly cannot grasp the concept of a mutually beneficial transaction)

          • N__B

            If no one has lost, how can he be a winner?


            • NeonTrotsky

              Which is incidentally also the republican position on healthcare coverage

            • This is one reason, I think, why when people of color, immigrants, women, and working class people appear to have/expect power/influence, they get uncomfortable and irrational. They can only imagine such a person has won a zero-sum game with a rich white person, see nothing wrong with besting a rich white person, and might suddenly become not submissive in the future. Deferential people don’t trigger that fear in the same way, normally. Other rich white men don’t trigger that fear because they–Trump is an exception–aren’t worried that their confidence is evidence that the other guy is prone to “attack.”

          • It’s the kind of thing that maybe works when he has lots of power (and money) and people just want to be able to get some of the trickle-down and are willing to put up with a lot just to be in his vicinity. There’s a reason so much of what his entourage does is enforce agreement and submission in people farther from the center.

            It doesn’t work unless the other people with power are willing to actually do that to get what they want. It also isn’t a method suitable for doing anything complicated (even the builders presumably have some autonomy to do things separate from the dealmaking).

        • There’s tremendous value in being able to truthfully say, “I always made money for my partners.” I think at some level Trump must understand the value of saying that as a sales pitch, but I don’t think he understands the value of trying to make it be true.

          • N__B

            Being able to say that truthfully requires one to see partners as equals, rather than as suckers, ATMs, or mean-spirited nannies.

    • Scott Lemieux

      This is a good way of thinking about it.

    • This is bang on the mark, Murc. I’d been struggling to put this into words myself and you put it perfectly.

    • This is a very good way to put it.

      It is true that in business people make deals. Businesses contract and subcontract with other businesses, and buy from other businesses, and also “deal” with governments. Trump himself has purchased properties, and his boast is that he had been good at getting the best deals for himself. His track record generally suggests that that is only true insofar as he is able to screw people over (such as by stiffing contractors).

      He has, however, been second to none at selling himself and his image.

      • IM

        He has, however, been second to none at selling himself and his image.

        Also the core competence of Ryan. No accident, I think.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      This also feeds into the narcissistic personality disorder (I have 2 close relatives with it and worked for a few others): they need important people’s praise and approval like oxygen, so sales is a natural fit. People who don’t give them approval are DENYING THEM OXYGEN and quickly become THE ENEMY. Note how Trump was friendly and praising with the Clintons and then s/t around the WHCA dinner the Democratic establishment became THE ENEMY.

    • malraux

      I think another subtler point is that to the extent that Trump does make deals, they are two party negotiations with cash as a barometer of how the deal is going. That is, Trump wants to buy a piece of land, he’s negotiating between himself and another person, and the measure of how the deal is going is how much/little he has to pay.

      Compare that to passing legislation like AHCA. It’s unclear if Trump really cared about what the legislation did, it had to satisfy multiple parties that have contradictory goals, and there’s no real single measure of how the deal is going (that is, you measure about number of insured, number in private insurance, number in public insurance, total cost of the bill, legislative regulations like EHB, etc). These aren’t the kind of “deals” that trump has ever had to put together.

    • Peterr

      Well said.

      This leads to one additional observation. A salesperson can pick and choose their targets — if this city is being too tough in negotiations, threaten to go to the next city on your list.

      A president, in contrast, has to make deals and negotiate with folks from whom he/she often can’t walk away. If you want a treaty about nukes, you’ve got to negotiate with the folks who have the nukes. If you want a deal over trade, you’ve got to deal with the folks with whom you trade. And if you want a deal with the GOP in Congress, you have to deal with the GOP in Congress.

      You can’t just walk away and make your sale with someone else instead.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      I think you’re making an artificial distinction and conflating negotiating/bargaining with deal-making. Certainly Trump is a very effective salesman to some people for some things. In some of those cases he was trying to get people to buy from him, in other cases he was trying to get people to be his partners — i.e., to go in with him on deals: many potential partners turned him down but there’s always another bank desperate to get a foothold into the business. He has also been a fairly effective bargainner/negotiator in his bankruptcies, where by rights he should have walked away with less than nothing but still somehow came out more or less okay.

      The common element in all of those things is that either he was able to choose who was on the other side or that there was always another sucker willing, or that the people on the other side didn’t have much choice (e.g., the bankruptcies — if you’re a creditor then you have to deal because the alternative to a deal will almost always be even worse).

      The big difference here is that (a) Trump doesn’t get to pick and choose his marks, and (b) in this case at least, the other side could simply choose to walk away — no deal is not necessarily worse than a bad deal. That’s going to continue to be the case for most domestic and foreign issues during his presidency, so I am expecting the Republican amen chorus to begin asserting very soon that executive orders are the highest form of Federal activity.

    • nmgal

      Excellent analysis, thanks for this nuance. Stealing.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    there’s reality tv (so-called), and then there’s governing. Mark Burnett can’t set things up for him now

    • efgoldman

      there’s reality tv (so-called), and then there’s governing.

      I just had a crazy thought: He’d have been better off if the Dems held majorities in both houses.
      They’d have sent him stuff (like fixing the ACA), he’d sign it and take credit, everybody’s happy.

      • patrick II

        Think that could happen in 2018?

        • efgoldman

          Think that could happen in 2018?

          I think his presidency is already irredeemably damaged, and it’s going to get worse as the agencies where his boss, Bannonazi, has left hundred of jobs open. and the agencies where he’s appointed people essentially to destroy them, keep failing.
          FEMA is no longer equipped to handle a disaster; DoD is still missing two service secretaries; state is a shambles, and our allies are laughing at him and/or recoiling in horror; FSM knows what shit Evil Leprechaun is getting into st DOJ; his “budget director” wants to cut the balls off all of the programs his constituents depend on; his own partisans in congress neither like, listen to, nor fear him; and the FBI/Intelligence Community investigations grind on – sooner or later they’ll find something indictable.

          • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

            A big natural disaster and he’s toast
            A big terror attack and he’s a shoo-in.

            Heads, we lose; tails, we lose worse.

            • cpinva

              “A big natural disaster and he’s toast”

              oddly enough, a huge natural disaster, and three man-made disasters (all three of which could have been avoided) didn’t seem to hurt bush. see, people expect republicans to fuck up, it’s what they do. then they elect democrats to clean up the republican messes.

              • gccolby

                ddly enough, a huge natural disaster, and three man-made disasters (all three of which could have been avoided) didn’t seem to hurt bush

                Except, they did. Had Katrina happened a year earlier, Bush would’ve been toast. In electoral politics, timing is everything. Even if it’s not your fault. Had Obama been up for reelection in 2014, he probably would’ve lost, too. Bush’s job-approval ratings didn’t last a year from election night 2004. He was just fortunate enough that his mistakes didn’t blow up in his face until after he’d already won the second term.

                • gmack

                  Yeah, this notion that the Bush administration’s fuck-ups didn’t hurt him is utterly bizarre. He almost lost in 2004, during war time and with a pretty good economy. He face massive electoral defeats in 2006, and he likely would have lost if (a) Katrina had happened in 2004, and (b) if the massive fuck-up that was Iraq was a little more obvious (the worst part of the war happened after the 2004 election. Had it happened a little sooner, that could have led to his electoral defeat too).

                • brad

                  And it was the combo of Katrina and Iraq drifting into permanent Friedman units that led to the legislative majorities in 2006 and 2008.
                  To say none of it cost Bush or his party is simply counterfactual.

            • corporatecake

              You know, I would have agreed with the latter whole heartedly a while ago, but I’m starting to think that if there’s a politician who can manage to fuck up the response to a big terror attack, it’s Trump.

              • Dennis Orphen

                if there’s a politician who can manage to fuck up the response to a big terror attack, it’s Trump.

                Fortunately, there are no other international actors with pretensions to hegemony (historical or contemporary) who might gin one up exponentiate the chaos here, which they fortunately are not already creating. We’re just lucky so and so’s I guess. And we’ve made it through what, three months the evil Democrats being vanquished now? The rest is a cinch. The ship of state can run on autopilot, everyone can golf all the time, occasionally checking the tracking numbers of the ponies being delivered.

              • gmack

                This too. Obviously, none of us can know what the consequences of a major terrorist attack would be. It depends, I think, on the nature of the attack and its timing; for example, if it happens late in the Trump administration, and if it’s fairly clearly related to, say, the administration’s failure to staff the government properly, it might not help him much at all. Regardless, I suspect that the rally effect that occurred immediately after Sept. 11 would be less likely in the present: partly, this is because the attack would not be as unexpected, and partly, this is because there is a much greater degree of polarization in the present. No doubt there would be some rallying, but it might dissipate rather quickly.

      • los

        efgoldman says:

        if the Dems held majorities in both houses.
        They’d have sent him stuff (like fixing the ACA), he’d sign it and take credit, everybody’s happy.

        You’ve overlooked the insatiable greed Winning factor.
        RWNJ MSM couldn’t keep quiet even if Congressional Rs had admitted the bill was the best Rs could negotiate.
        Bannon could leave an alexjonestown tweet (from 2011, if conveniently worded – at worst, a spoofed aj account) on Trump’s phone, and Trump wouldn’t sign.

        UHCA failed because Congressional Rs fell apart.

      • sigaba

        Isn’t this eventually what Schwarzenegger settled in to? Him and Jesse Ventura remain the models.

        Of course such a development would have the press swooning Reagan/Tip O’Neil style on the glories of Divided Government. “Centrism” in the US translates into Democrats Getting Work Done while the presidency is held by a genial jellybean-eating game show host.

    • BruceJ

      A stray thought I had last night: “In the future ‘If you had a time machine, would you go back and kill the baby Hitler?’ will only be narrowly more popular than ‘If you had a time machine, would you go back and kill the baby Mark Burnett?’ because that asshole has unleashed more crap on the world in the last 20 year, but the most unforgivable might be Trump.

    • Peterr

      Considering that this happened last night after the bill was pulled, I’m not so sure about their television skilz either:

      Basketball fans tonight in several Republican-adjacent TV markets are enjoying a series of ads, prematurely bought by the American Action Network PAC, inviting viewers to call their representatives to thank them for repealing Obamacare today—something that did not happen.

      Above you see an ad praising Virginia’s Barbara Comstock; it ran during the Wizards-Nets game. Below are ads for Fresno’s David Valadao and Des Moines’s David Young; both ran on CBS stations before March Madness coverage. Money well-spent, we think.

      Videos at the link above.

      [For those who don’t remember her, Barbara Comstock was AG John Ashcroft’s press person, then Scooter Libby’s press person, and an all-around oppo researcher and Hillary-Hater extraordinaire.]

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        She also announced yesterday around noon that she was voting against Trump-Ryan-don’t-care.

  • Charlie S

    But. He. Didn’t. Even. Try.

  • Hogan


  • Ken

    saying the president clearly “knows Jersey.”

    Is there an unspoken “but he’s from New York so f*ck him”?

    BTW, that picture – defining moment of Trump’s presidency?

    • Nick never Nick

      I’ve got a feeling that defining moments are going to come thick and fast in the next few weeks.

    • LastUniversalCommonAncestor

  • e.a.foster

    the legislators didn’t vote for the bill because there wasn’t anything in it for them. Trump had nothing to offer them. He could threaten, but he couldn’t promise on the threats so the legislators did what they always do, look after themselves.

    Not wanting Maternity care, are those idiots crazy. they don’t want abortions and they don’t want maternity care. so what are women to do? How many babies with preventable health issues do these nut cases want to have born?

    Trump will move on and hope everyone forgets about this “deal”. so lets see the deal maker has had his two exclusion orders tossed and the health care bill go down in flames. guess he thinks not voting on it is not a loss.

    • efgoldman

      How many babies with preventable health issues do these nut cases want to have born?

      Always ask Katie.

    • GeoX

      they don’t want abortions and they don’t want maternity care. so what are women to do? How many babies with preventable health issues do these nut cases want to have born?

      Just one more piece of evidence that people who say “Republicans are pro-life right until you’re actually born” are being far too generous. I know this isn’t going to come as any great revelation to anyone reading LGM, but it really is all about punishment. They truly do not give a shit about the babies.

      • They do not care about babies, at all. They care about having a poor and desperate labor force. Everything else is just what they try to manipulate to achieve that.

      • smott999

        They aren’t Pro-Life, they’re Pro-Birth

    • Spider-Dan

      they don’t want abortions and they don’t want maternity care. so what are women to do?

      The poors shouldn’t be having sex. They haven’t earned it.

      It is quite literally that simple.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        The poors shouldn’t be having sex.

        Quite a few middle class families would be in deep financial trouble if they had to pay the entire cost of even a routine pregnancy, much less one with complications.

        The wealthy, of course, wouldn’t have any problem beyond, in many cases, an aversion to spending money.

  • anonymous

    Had the bill been signed into law, contradictions would have been heightened which would hurt people in the short run but led to Dem strength in 2018 midterms.

    By sinking the bill and retreating, they avoided that and so it is a tactical defeat but will lead to strategic victory.

    Repugs are going to do everything to sink Obamacare. When it inevitably sinks, Repugs will simply blame Dems. This will work because Repugs will say that you can’t trust Dems on healthcare either but you can trust us on bog standard Repug things like anti-abortion, low taxes, less regulation, anti immigrant and PoC, etc etc. And Trump and Repugs can deliver on those!

    By doing nothing on replacing Obamacare but merely sabotaging it, they can neutralize the issue to their advantage. They will then be able to frame Obamacare as a disaster and blame Dems.

    • patrick II

      Someone on MSNBC tonight mentioned the Origination clause suit which is still in the courts. If Trump fails to defend it, it could repeal Obamacare without all of that congressional voting bother.

      Is that a real worry?

      • Jean-Michel

        What suit is this? Sissel v. DHHS hinged on the origination clause and was effectively killed off in January ’16 when SCOTUS denied cert. In any case the Trump admin could refuse to defend the ACA and there would still be no shortage of people with the resources and standing to step in, including numerous state governments.

    • randy khan

      If only the Dems had thought of this and voted unanimously for the bill, all our problems would be solved.

      • wjts

        You don’t understand! We’re dealing with a gang of political masterminds whose strategic political genius makes the machinations of Justinian, Cardinal Richelieu, and Bismarck look like the stink fights of a troop of drunken, brain-damaged lemurs. They’ve gamed out every possible outcome of every possible action and made sure that there’s no way they can lose: if the ACA is repealed, they win; if the ACA isn’t repealed, then they win even more. If you ever think they’ve lost at anything, it’s only because they want you to think that in order to lull you into a false sense of security to make their eventual inevitable victory all the sweeter. They are unstoppable, and our only hope is to give up and give them everything they want in the hope that they, in their infinite and unfathomable power, will find it amusing to provide some token amount of mercy to those who had the wisdom and foresight to refrain from ever challenging them.

    • aab84

      I wonder how many years into the Trump Administration we’ll be before people decide the lesson of the last two decades is “people blame the party in power (meaning the presidency), always,” rather than “people blame Democrats for everything.”

      • los

        lesson of the last two decades is “people blame the party in power (meaning the presidency), always,”

        That’s too complex. :-)

        according to favorability ratings, already some of the thin “persuadable” percentage are shifting from Trump (to nobody, presumably). I haven’t looked for ratings of parties.

        you already know that the problem is that most trumpsters are victims of the RWNJ brainwashing machine.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          But willing victims, which is why it’s so hard to have any sympathy for them.

        • randy khan

          In the last Quinnipiac poll, Trump’s favorability among Republicans dropped 10 points, albeit from 91 to 81 percent, but still a big drop. Also, just one poll, etc., but still.

    • You forgot to mention that the Democrats therefore must embrace soft white nationalism. Because that’s your gimmick.

    • IM

      that is a parody, right?

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      The hope i have for the “we’ll just vote again when it fails” argument is:

      1) There will be many more stumpy Trumpy fingerprints on the failure next time. Tom Price will have been in charge of administering it for some time, and will “own” it’s success or failure to an extent (his fingerprints will be on it). Also, the administration will have had to deal with the federal court order instructing it to make the risk corridor payments to insurance companies, which should help the individual markets stay afloat. Lastly, CBO predicts the individual markets may be relatively healthy after this year if left to their own devices.

      2) All the same sticking point issues that bogged down the AHCA this current time will still be there.

  • royko

    LBJ would have made a few phone calls from the crapper and Gotten Things Done. And then he and Ronnie and Tip would have gone out for drinks.

    • Mellano

      “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?” Trump asked, as he climbed into the big rig they’d parked in the Rose Garden.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I know Trump had lots of fun blowing the horn and making faces, but if his minions really wanted to make him happy they would have let him drive the truck and smash into things.

        He’d be in heaven if they gave him one of those trucks with the huge tires and let him crush cars with it, especially if there were people inside them.

        • efgoldman

          if they gave him one of those trucks with the huge tires and let him crush cars with it, especially if there were people inside them.

          People inside the huge tires? Sound like fun.

  • MDrew

    I’m not even particularly enamored of the bully pulpit effect (“Great Persuasion Pumpkin”) theory of presidential-legislative leadership, but this has to be the lamest excuse for an example of an earnestly, to say nothing of colorably competently, engaged bout of Bully Pulpiting of the Overton Window. I mean jesus, every other statement from Trump indicated he was just as happy with “Letting Obamacare Fail” as with repealing it. Yes, ultimately they put on a lobbying effort and said it was a crucial vote, but honestly to me that looks like it was more to get the thing to a head and over with quickly than to try to get it passed. There just was not a sustained, earnest attempt from the White House to get this passed that I saw.

    Which is not to contradict the OP to say that such efforts work, ever. I’m not even saying that.

    • efgoldman

      There just was not a sustained, earnest attempt from the White House to get this passed



      • AMK

        Yeah I think it’s really hard to compare this shitshow to the ACA process or any example of Bully Pulpiting (real or imagined) because the ignorance + incompetence here is just too much. If you’re looking at outcomes for, say, surgeries, there might be better results from better surgeons and worse results from worse surgeons, but locking a bunch of monkeys in the operating room to fling shit around isn’t going to tell you much either way.

    • nemdam

      True, but a lot of the same alt-left people who claim Obama could get a public option/single payer if he just used the Bully Pulpit were praising Trump for threatening House members to get on board. And as Scott predicted, it spectacularly blew up in his face.

  • Ronan

    + 1 for Nazi Germany is not coming to the United States?

  • cthulhu

    I guess it is too much to ask that WaPo doesn’t fluff Drumph so much even given such a shocking loss. Access after all I suppose. But I did appreciate the various subtle digs here and there.

    But seriously, was Pence really this engaged?

    • humanoid.panda

      Costa got the first call for a reason..

    • nemdam

      Access journalism is a necessary evil to fully inform the reader. But when it requires doing de facto PR is when it becomes a problem. WaPo is the rare media entity that usually avoids this.

  • MDrew

    “He’s got this wit about him that I enjoy,” Lance said, “but and so I’m a ‘no’ vote.”

    • MDrew

      the president clearly “knows Jersey.”

      “No, seriously, Lenny. I want you to vote for this bill. No. Seriously. I need you to”


      [Uncontrollable laughter.]

  • Matt

    For Meadows, a sticking point was essential health-benefit requirements under the current law for insurance companies, such as maternity and newborn care, and substance-abuse treatment, which he wanted removed and replaced with narrower rules.

    So to sum up, the bill died because Meadows etc wouldn’t vote for it unless it HURT MORE PEOPLE. What a piece of work.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      Actually, they *gave* him that.

      It died because (a) that wasn’t enough for some of the others in the HFC, and (b) that was too much for some of the blue/purple state GOP (who would be certain to lose their seats in 2018 if they voted for that.)

  • Wow. Granny Starver’s only hope of survival is to escape while his fellow Repubs are arguing over who gets to shiv him first.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Has anybody in American life had so many high-profile jobs so young with such high FAIL:WIN? Elizabeth Holmes could only dream of it. Ryan makes Robert McNamara and David Stockman look like plodders. He’s like the anti-Theo Epstein.

      • Harry Hardrada

        George McClellan?

        • EliHawk

          The funny thing about McClellan is that he didn’t actually lose on the battlefield all that much, but convinced himself he had and retreated anyway. The Seven Days and the various battles around Atlanta in 1864 had the same strategy and same tactical result: Lee and Hood coming out of entrenchments and bloodying their armies against a force about the begin a siege. The difference was Sherman kept his nerve, and McClellan, despite the fact that his numerically superior force was inflicting higher casualties on his weaker opponent, retreated anyway.

  • catbutler

    I had a weird encounter last night over the failure of this to pass. Father of my wife’s friend was seriously disappointed that they didn’t pass this because he feels we need single payer and burning the whole thing down will in his words ’cause enough pain’ to make that happen. I realize this probably was not an uncommon sentiment on the left, but really? I pointed out that neither he nor I would feel any of this pain, especially since he’s on Medicare and that he was talking about taking insurance away from twenty million people, exposing them to possible bankruptcy and maybe death. I also pointed out that the twenty million people affected here are the ones least likely to be able to advance any effort toward single payer anyway. I also noted that we both knew there is no possible way single payer is happening any time soon with the legislative makeup of this country.
    I really wanted to know how he could just accept that much pain and disruption in other people’s lives when it wasn’t even going to accomplish anything anyway.
    He just shrugged at me (not kidding) and said ‘ it would have been more than twenty million.’
    I am utterly dumbfounded by this conversation. It’s twelve hours later and I’m still just sitting here trying to figure out how someone can just blink away actual real damage to other people. Jesus.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      it isn’t just god botherers who get so wound up in their passion plays they forget they’re talking about real people’s lives

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      It’s how our brains are wired. We generally have less of an emotional reaction to people we don’t know and only hear about second-hand at best. We’re most likely to help a relative, and more likely to help a neighbor, than we are someone on the other side of the world.

      Some people are more able to think their way through this conundrum and genuinely care for people they have little or no contact with, while others are less able and some never develop this ability at all.

      There’s a correlation between this ability and and a person’s political views, but it’s not absolute.

      • Although it does kind of make you wonder what’s the point of supporting single-payer health care if you’re actually fairly indifferent to the prospect of people getting sicker and dying for lack of health coverage while we wait for the stars to align themselves for that glorious day when the dream will become a reality.

        Presumably, people are initially attracted to certain left-wing ideologies by a sense of compassion or of “rooting for the underdog”, but there comes a point in some people’s lives where it becomes all about the ideology and the original positive impetus is lost.

        • FMguru

          what’s the point of supporting single-payer health care if you’re actually fairly indifferent to the prospect of people getting sicker and dying

          Because it’s about sticking it to the one percent/insurance companies/big banks/wall street, not actually making anyone’s life better.

        • catbutler

          This is what confused me the most.

      • witlesschum


        I really found this discussion of the limits of empathy very illuminating. Headline is sort of click bait, mainly isn’t focused on the election but made the excellent point that because of the way people’s empathy is often most strongly triggered for people they think are like them, that it was actually Trump using people’s empathy to get them het up about illegal immigrants commiting crimes. Now that only works if you’re kind of racist and scared of the Other, but that describes a fair amount of Americans.

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”

    • JKTH

      Apart from that, how exactly does passing the bill lead to single payer? It would just put the uninsured rate at what it was before the ACA. I may just be a simple country blog commenter, but I don’t seem to remember a huge outcry for single payer back then.

      • nemdam

        Right, and the Democrats priority on healthcare would then shift to something that is less vulnerable which probably means a milder version of the ACA. Against the hopes and dreams of ideological leftists, the defeat of the ACA would simply be a defeat and not a strategic retreat.

      • catbutler

        It was his feeling that he wanted the whole system to collapse and 1. create huge numbers of uninsured 2. Bankruptcies and mayhem 3. Outcry for single payer.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      This is a standard #BernItDown “heighten the contradictions” argument, beloved of Sandernistas (though not Sanders himself). The belief is that making things bad enough will finally get the working class to throw off their false consciousness and join the Glorious Proletariat Revolution, bringing about the Marxist Paradise. (Admittedly, they don’t all use full-blown Marxist jargon – but probe them a bit and you’ll find that’s what they actually want, much like most of the GOP wants to bring back Jim Crow but won’t actually say it.)

      And if a few million people get killed, so what? Revolutions need martyrs.

  • Frank Wilhoit

    There are three parties. Go back and listen to what Paul Ryan said in his presser yesterday. He talked about negotiating with Mark Meadows in precisely the same terms that he would have used if (come on, thought experiment here) he had been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi. The Coercion Caucus is a third party that has split from the Republican Party but is still, for purposes of misdirection, using its name.

    So the largest party in the house is the Democratic Party; just slightly smaller is the regular Republican Party; then you have the Coercion Caucus, who are much the smallest but more numerous than the difference between the two large parties. This, as any student of parliamentary practice will tell you, is rocket fuel.

    For the moment, the likeliest outcome is that the Coercion Caucus will block everything that the regular Republicans propose on the ground that it is not extreme enough. But well in time before 2018, they are going to have to decide whether to run their own slate. It is a large gamble, but my personal hunch is that it would pay off big.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      If you’re correct, it will be ironic that all of the people who want to see a third party created so that there will be a more liberal political alternative will instead see a third party created so there will be a more conservative one.

      This is what happened in KS. Conservative Republicans took over the party from moderates, with the Democrats essentially only winning elections in a few, more urban, areas of the state. Under Brownback, they reached their maximum power and controlled the legislature and governorship for several years. Failure of their agenda to produce the promised economic benefits has led to a trend of conservatives losing to moderates in primaries, mostly in 2016.

      Unfortunately, moderates don’t have enough power yet to override Brownback’s vetoes, so for now our best hope is that Trump gives him a job (he’s term-limited) and that his replacement is less intransigent.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Eric Cantor says hello
      (And John Boehner may be the happiest retiree in America right now)

    • JKTH

      The fun part is that the Dumbass Caucus probably won’t vote for routine things like raising the debt ceiling or appropriations so Ryan will have to go hat in hand to at least some Democrats.

    • los

      Frank Wilhoit says:

      Coercion Caucus

      Differs only by impracticality of tactics.
      Republicans are all totalitarians, except maybe Amash.
      Rand Paul seems genuinely isolationist and anti (excess) surveillance. but otherwise I don’t now recall any other honest position that differentiates Paul from the others.

  • Gwen
  • Joe_JP

    I see no reason to believe that this would have been any different with Rubio or Cruz or Jeb! in the White House

    Figure it might be somewhat different with other parties, including perhaps realizing earlier that the better approach would be focus on something else now & not try to do so much at once like this.

    Maybe not, but with a more credible person in the White House, that extra voice might have altered the approach, especially if the person was helping to advance some other policy & not looking like a clown / in bed with the Russians or something.

  • AMK

    There’s also the Pence (non) factor. On paper, he looks like the ideal person to bridge the gap between the Ryanite sociopaths and the HFC lunatics—certainly better than Jeb or Rubio or Cruz. In practice, not so much.

    • los

      Pence… looks like the ideal person to bridge the gap… In practice, not so much.

      Pence’s speech to redmeaters today (or yesterday) was blab that verges on typical offensive rightwank radio/infowars rants.

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