The Biggest Loser?

No, The Curmudgeon isn’t writing about a silly reality weight-loss show.

He’s asking a question:  based on the events of the past week, who’s the biggest loser – President Trump or House Speaker Paul Ryan?

Let’s meet at our contestants.

Paul Ryan is the most important person in Congress.  The health care bill that failed so miserably last week was his baby:  he wrote it, he promoted it, he negotiated with those who were unhappy with it.  It turned out that, like his congressional colleagues, Ryan had spent seven years kvetching about Obamacare and insisting it had to be repealed without giving any meaningful thought to how to replace it.  When he finally had his first legitimate chance to lead the charge toward its repeal he choked like Mama Cass on that ham sandwich:  his proposal was ridiculous and reflected deeply flawed thinking.  Even his fellow Republicans hated it.

Ryan reached a point where he knew his bill could never win a vote in the House and he wanted to withdraw it, at least until he could do some things to improve it, but when President Trump channeled his inner three-year-old, threw a temper tantrum, and demanded that a vote be held on the bill last Friday, Ryan folded like a kindergartner’s origami and agreed to give the president the vote he demanded.

“Here are my testicles, Mr. President,” Ryan effectively declared.  “They’re yours to do with as you please.”

And then Ryan agreed that he would go along with the president and leave health care behind if the bill lost in the House and move on to other things, even though it’s certainly his prerogative to continue pursuing a replacement for Obamacare.  After all, as we all learned in elementary school, we have three equal branches of government and Ryan leads one of them.  He doesn’t need the president’s permission to pursue legislation, and as he learned through this situation, he doesn’t really need the president’s help, either.  Congress gets to decide for itself when it wants to pass laws and when it wants to pass on making laws and doesn’t need the president’s help, support, or even cooperation to do so.

But stripped of his testicles, Ryan meekly acceded to the president’s wishes.

Now THAT’S leadership.

Only his hairdresser knows for sure

Contestant number two is the president, Agent Orange, who probably pulled a muscle or six dodging blame for failing to fulfill one of his biggest campaign promises.

The president wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare.  He ran for office promising to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that would provide insurance for everyone and insurance that was less expensive and offered even better health care (as if a politician could suddenly make doctors and nurses better at their jobs).  Let us put aside, for a moment, that the Ryan proposal he endorsed so enthusiastically would have taken insurance away from twenty-four million Americans over the next ten years and pretty much doubled or even tripled insurance premiums for older people.  But let’s forget all that for now.

Just last Friday The Curmudgeon noted in his Trump Watch that on more than one occasion, Agent Orange suggested not repealing Obamacare and instead letting it die on its own and blaming Democrats for that because they passed it (with Republican help, an inconvenient truth The Donald routinely overlooks), implicitly accepting the harm his inaction would cause to millions of people as a reasonable price to pay so he could hurt public officials who dare to disagree with him.

“The best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode,” he said on Friday.

“Politically.”  He thinks it would be good politics for him and his fellow Republicans.

And the hell with the people who would get hurt along the way – including, not insignificantly, a much higher proportion of people who voted for him than who voted for Hillary Clinton.

Like a child, Trump demanded a vote on Friday – a vote he couldn’t win – and metaphorically insisted that he would take his ball and bat and go home if he didn’t get his way, saying that if the vote failed, he would forget about health care and move on to other things (in this case, he has his eye on about $1 trillion worth of tax breaks for rich family and friends).

He gave up after sixty-four days – at least, that’s what pundits like to say.  But really, he gave up after just eighteen days:  eighteen days after the health care bill was introduced he declared it dead.  After just eighteen days.

Less than three weeks – or time for only two weekend jaunts to Mar-a-Lago.

And just one scheduled vote on the bill – a vote that was scrapped.

Quit.  Threw in the towel.  Declared “No mas.”

Because he didn’t get exactly what he wanted exactly the way he wanted it exactly when he wanted it.

Even this guy made better deals

And because the negotiating and deal-making skills he told us would solve all our problems failed him the very first time he needed summon those skills.

And because in an environment in which he needed not a single Democratic vote to get his way he couldn’t even get his own fellow Republicans to support him and then had the audacity, the chutzpah, the balls – maybe the extra pair Paul Ryan surrendered to him? – to blame Democrats for not giving him even one Democratic vote he never should have needed in the first place.  Of course, he never made any serious attempt to get even a single Democratic vote, but why should he?  He’s the president, his party controlled Congress, so when he realized his own party had abandoned a proposal that even he didn’t really believe in, mostly because he didn’t even know what it said, he quit.

Surrendered.

Now THAT’s leadership.

While he says he worked great with Ryan and his fellow Republicans, we all know that’s not going to last.  He’s going to blame Ryan for a bad bill – even though he’s on the record saying it was a great bill; he’s going to blame Ryan for his failure to twist arms that he himself failed to twist; he’s going to blame his staff for not telling him it was a bad bill and had little chance of passing; and he’s going to blame Republicans in the House for failing to shut their eyes and bend over and take whatever he wanted to… do to them.

The truth is, Trump never read the bill and only asked his aides whether it was a good or bad bill; he didn’t do anything to try to figure that out for himself.  When he spoke about it publicly, he never talked about what the bill proposed – because he had no idea what it proposed.  If he had, he would have known that it would have profoundly hurt the very people who put him in the White House.  He also would have known that it was DOA with both the moderate and conservative wings of his own party.

Is this the kind of president he’s going to be?  A guy who tries once, for just a few weeks, to address a problem, and if it proves difficult, or if it doesn’t work the first time, he’s going to shrug his shoulders and just move on and pretend the problem no longer exists?

So who’s the biggest loser:  Trump or Ryan?

It’s a tough call, but The Curmudgeon thinks he knows the answer:  the biggest loser is not Trump and not Ryan but the American people.

 

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