When The Emperor Has No Clothes…

Yesterday, the Republicans’ much-hyped replacement of the Affordable Care Act went down in flames.

There are multiple lessons to be drawn from the legislative fiasco we’ve just witnessed, although I am doubtful the people who most need to learn those lessons are capable of doing so.

The first–and most obvious–is that Donald Trump presides (in the words of David Gergen, who has served both Republican and Democratic Presidents) over an incompetent and delusional Administration. “I actually think this may be the worst hundred days we’ve ever seen in a president.”

As one wag commented, William Henry Harrison had a better second month.

Political commentators have repeatedly catalogued the myriad ways in which Trump is unsuited for the Presidency–including but not limited to his emotional and mental instability, lack of intellectual curiosity and ignorance of the structures and operations of government. Those deficits translate into an inability to understand that Presidents–unlike CEOs of closely-held corporations–cannot simply issue orders to Congress, a co-equal branch of government, and expect compliance.

The art of a legislative “deal” is distinctly different than the art of developing a parcel of real estate. A successful Presidency requires skills that Trump neither possesses nor understands.

Then there is Paul Ryan, who has long been lauded as the Republicans’ policy wonk. The lesson here is that in a group of midgets, even a short guy looks tall. Ryan has had seven years to craft a replacement for Obamacare; clearly, he spent none of that time considering what such a replacement should look like. Ryan has been “defrocked”–shown to be all political posturing and no policy chops. The bill he tried to peddle to his fractious caucus was an abysmal piece of legislation–a “steaming pile of excrement” in the words of one Republican lawmaker.

Even if Ryan had possessed the skills credulous pundits have attributed to him, however, it probably would not have been possible to bridge the deep divides within the GOP. The aptly-named “lunatic caucus” wants nothing less than a government retreat from any participation in healthcare, including Medicaid and Medicare. The moderates–mostly elected from more competitive districts– understand that such a retreat is neither possible nor desirable, and wanted legislation that they could have described as improving upon the ACA.

The only thing the two factions agreed upon was that they were being asked by a President with a 37% approval rating to vote for a measure supported by 17% of voters.

Congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided between the radical ideologues produced by 2011’s extreme gerrymandering (who don’t give a rat’s patootie what their party’s leadership wants) and the GOPs (somewhat) more traditional representatives.

The third lesson, then, is that It will only get worse.

The Party of No is no longer capable of getting to yes.


  1. Our Congress has two types of people in it. Those that serve themselves only (tea party) and those that serve only themselves and the mega donors who own them.

  2. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) > “Republicans could not even agree on how cruel they should be to the American people and how generous they would be to billionaires. So they surrendered before they were actually defeated on the House floor.

    “We have known for years that the only true health care reform that will work is a single-payer system where we take national responsibility for the health of our nation”.

    The Republicans spent how many years voting to kill ACA. We all knew that the Republicans pre-Trump had no optional plan, if they did they would have revealed it. Trump campaigned on repealing ACA, shouting it out to his swooning crowds. He refused to provide details because the Trumpet had no plan to replace ACA.

    Now the Republicans who shouted out REPEAL, REPEAL, will have to go back to their districts and face some harsh music from their base. The Trumpet as is his style is trying to cast blame on the Democrats for not supporting this wretched piece of legislation Trump-Ryan Care.

  3. Excellent article. There are 435 domestic policy “experts” in the House and 100 more in the Senate. Some of these folks are very secure in their districts and the threats of this Administration fall on deaf ears as they know what their voting base expects of them.

  4. Okay, Donald, when will you file your lawsuit for damages? The Orange Avenger will get revenge. Think his ego will survive? Who will take the brunt of his rage? Ryan? Pence? Price? Not Donald, of course, but someone will be fall guy.
    Not to worry, People, you still have Obamacare, but watch and wait to see what Donald will do.
    C’mon Kellyanne, this is no time for reticence. Off the couch! We need your cover-up talking points!

  5. We’ve seen the beauty of the gerrymander and super majority districts at work in its most beautiful way :: where ideology can triumph. America, welcome to Indiana.

  6. Just because they couldn’t kill the ACA this way doesn’t mean they won’t or can’t kill it. They have made it less effective by filing lawsuit after lawsuit against various provisions of the bill. Now they are left only with the power of the purse and that is how they will work to kill it. They can and will starve it to death.

  7. @ Peggy Hannon: You’re absolutely right. As Chris Hayes said: “Death by sabotage.” Still a sweet moment though.

  8. Luis Gutierrez, you are absolutely correct and I want to hear more Democrats saying it!!! I’m a retired e.r. nurse and have been saying it for many many years! It’s been working for many years now to care for the sickest of our population and we must implement it.
    Of course we are controlled by the insurance companies and Big Pharma, even Cory Booker who I have embraced in the past as a refreshing voice to our democracy (? is it ). But to speak to something Nancy said a few days ago, and I know this is anecdotal,
    a young nurse I was taking a break with during the time that Pence was trying to figure out how to save face by accepting the government money to expand Medicare, this young woman, once admittedly a welfare recipient, she told me!, said essentially that she deserved it! Implicitly others do not! I said to her, aside from your clear prejudice, don’t you think getting some money for our services is better than NONE?! I’m certain she voted for Trump.

  9. Yesterday Trump “blamed” the Democrats for the loss of Trumpcare prior to the vote. This morning I watched a news clip of him stating, “I wanted to act on tax reform.” So; in other words his Republican party moved forward, contrary to his wishes, to push through his health care bill rather than his preferred tax reform. Stay tuned for the next “alternative fact” from his puckered lips.

    I understand his term “blame” and “loss” as he views it but; no mention about those Republicans who were actually the ones to “blame” for ending his hope of fulfilling the health care “promise” which became a threat to all Americans through his Trumpcare bill – except the 1-2% who would benefit with additional tax reduction. I will repeat myself from late yesterday and say we need to thank those brave souls in the Republican party who remained loyal to their constituents rather than cave in to Trump’s threats and coercion.

    Has all of this hullabaloo over the health (lack of) care bill been to distract us from the Russian connections which is quickly becoming an international issue? Now, Nunes is saying there was NO wire tapping of Trump. Why has the scheduled hearing on Tuesday been cancelled? Is it to give Nunes time to decide which “alternative fact” to put to the public so we can concentrate on one issue at a time. Although they are all interconnected and rather than “all roads lead to Rome” – all roads lead from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.

    It isn’t only the Emperor who has no clothes!

  10. I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on our celebration of the demise of Trump-Ryancare, but I must note that those who populate the “Freedom Caucus” threatened to vote no for the wrong reasons, thus denying the majority the Speaker needed for his wretched bill which provided for tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts and higher premiums for the sick and poor. With gerrymandered districts secure from tweets such Republican minorities have no fear of either tweets or plum committee assignments since though a minority they are sufficient in number when temporarily added to Democrats to make a critical difference on floor votes. It is a strange sight to see Democrats (who threatened to vote no for the right reasons) join with the Freedom nihilists (libertarians who pretend to be Republicans) to vote down Ryan’s stinking and inhumane bill, but as the old saying goes: Politics make strange bedfellows.

    On the other hand, perhaps I shouldn’t complain about the motives of the perversely-named “Freedom Caucus” who favor anything but freedom since, after all, we buddied up with the murdering communist dictator Stalin to go after the Nazis in WW II and have frequently backed dictators in Third World and other countries as extensions of policy which benefit Wall Street bankers and their ilk while exacerbating wage inequality, a systemic horror already in place since the 1970s (see stagnant median wages adjusted for inflation for the last 40-some years).

    When we are going down for the third time, we grasp for straws, and we Democrats welcomed the resistance of the Freedom Caucus as allies, however unlike our motivations were for resisting Trump-Ryancare, but let’s not make a habit of allying ourselves with such irresponsible libertarian nihilists (fearless by reason of gerrymandering) who are ALEC/Mercer/Koch Brothers-loving cavemen and women and who purport to represent some 750,000 humans in each of their districts but have in truth sold their souls for power and money. We are better than that – far better – so let’s keep such temporary alliances on an issue-by-issue basis just that – temporary.

    Meanwhile, yes, I am pleased that Trump-Ryancare is in our wake, at least for months if not years, and hope that such a result is a harbinger of things to come when the Triple Entente of Trump-McConnell-Ryan take up tax reform (aka how to get more money into the pockets of the rich and corporate class), infrastructure efforts (beware of privatization) and other such matters for discussion as Bannon’s admitted plan to “destroy the administrative state” proceeds without letup.

  11. How long can the republicans continue to be rewarded for their efforts to obstruct government, deny the ethics problems that are rampant in congress and the administration, work only for the monied interests that support their political careers and ignore the structural and social problems that scream for adult solutions?

  12. Gerald: The drum beat of lower corporate taxes is getting louder every day. Where is that voice of reason in DC that points out the sweetheart deal that large corporations already enjoy?

  13. daleb, you ask the question “How long can Republicans be rewarded for their efforts?”…

    The answer is simple: as long as they can frighten their base with the “boogie man du jour”. They have a (seemingly) endless supply of candidates for that title, from trans people in the bathroom to immigrant terrorist to black lives that matter. And if those gems loose their effectiveness, they can still blame the Kenyan-born, Muslim former president.

  14. Daleb – how long will Republicans continue to be rewarded? As long as the gerrymander installs them into positions of power.

  15. Last poll I saw said 54% of Americans liked the ACA. I think wingnuts kill the ACA at their own peril. Let’s see if they move on it before the 2018 midterms in hopes of picking up more seats.

  16. The next target is secret to the majority of the public; as Gerald said, it is Bannon’s takedown of the Federal government itself. Draconian budgets are close-hold, agencies are scrambling to decide who gets a Reduction-in-Force notice, and productivity is at a virtual standstill as there is a gag order and total vetting of every product before it goes out, if it does. The vindictive and random nature of it all is breathtaking. Rather than “make jobs,” Trump is allowing his staff to lay off employees, thereby crippling institutions designed to serve the public. In the end, it is YOU who will suffer.

  17. Wapo has it right.


    Things are much worse than we thought. We’ve been temporarily saved.

    Bannon/Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell stand fully revealed and our only hope is their incompetence in getting things done.

    What they want to do with America serves nobody in the long term. It wrecks everything that we’ve built up to now. Even the oligarchs lose as the workers who created the wealth that the aristocracy consumes will have no place to work.

    At the moment the world our country exists in just doesn’t understand. Soon they will turn their backs or worse. Putin is worse.

    This assault by one group of enemies was repelled by an even bigger threat, the Fascist Caucus.

    Mere economic collapse is the best we can hope for. Rebuilding will be hard but continuing down this path will be worse.

  18. And one my one, the secret worlds of the Fake President Trump are crumbling. The powers he supposedly had are disappearing. His ability to tell back-to-back lies is losing its charm. The Republican House of Representatives passed an anti-Obama Plan bill 50 times before Trump became President and zero times after he became President.

    What does all this mean? Perhaps members of the Tea Party know. But they don’t seem to be talking much lately.

  19. I hadn’t been born yet when the big reptiles went extinct but imagine extinction to be an unhappy time for those who fail adaptation.

    While I missed that one I’m curious about this one due to neolibralism’s failure to accept the new environment.

    They will be bellicose as the end comes, we can count on that, but natural selection doesn’t listen.

  20. I wish we had a more diverse representation here so someone could argue how any society is better off with fewer healthy people rather than more.

  21. Let’s face it: The party of “no” is really the party of “no solutions.”
    That’s what happens when priorities are not aligned with needs.

  22. Pete-you don’t seriously believe any wingnut pol in DC actually cares about the health of anyone except the 1%?

  23. If you remember, Lyin’Ryan with held critical government funds for high risk insurance pools last fall and forced insurance companies to raise rates right before the election. What stops him from pulling that same stunt again and again. He claimed he couldn’t find ther money in the budget and shortly after the election he found 25 billion for the military.

  24. The party of NO doesn’t have governance in their DNA. The radical rigjt wing of the GOP, now emboldened, viscerally want government to fail in order to incite their constituents to demand they eliminate as much of the government as they can, except the Dept of Defense. You cannot simply retrain yourself in the skills required for governance when your basic values are inconsistent with the very notion of governance. They have to go!

    Revisiting Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes

    Name it, Lord. Show its face. O see! It’s killing us.
    Low decibel, unseen but felt, eroding peace and trust.
    Black lives matter, but they don’t; outraged white men roar,
    Swallowed in their “but what of me?” Fear now takes the floor.
    They’re asking prejudice to dance, thinking theirs the bigger hand.
    They’re voicing every human vice that self-centeredness lets stand.
    Bravado blots the conscience out, one by one they’re joined
    By men who once had dignity, led by a spoiled boy.
    Rise again, America! This is what evil does!
    It crawls inside our weakest links; O see! It uses us
    To build the walls, to cast the blame, to rise by putting down.
    Survival of the fittest cries, and bullies gather ’round!
    O! Stand and cry, “This is enough!” Let human spirits soar!
    Tear Christ from their agenda – this is not Christian anymore.
    Goodness has been compromised; it is time to overthrow
    This Emperor and his entourage – my God, they have no clothes!


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