Monthly Archives: July 2017

Trump White House Staff 2.0

Spicer gone.

Anthony Scaramucci in as White House Communications Director.

Reince Priebus gone.

Jon Kelly in as new Chief of Staff.

What do I think?  What everybody else thinks:

(1)  You need people with experience in their job. Scaramucci is a Wall Street bulldog, and has no experience at communications. This was made abundantly clear by giving a profanity-laced screed to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker without specifying that he wanted it off-the-record.  That alone should have disqualified him, but Trump reportedly loved it (because Scaramucci swore, I guess). Likewise, Jon Kelly is ex-military, and running a military unit is not like running a civilian one. He can bark orders all he wants; this is not the military. It won’t stop leaks. Also, you need people who can work with Congress. Priebus had no strong congressional pull; Kelly has even less.

(2) The problem starts and ends with Trump.

In addition, it is clear that Ivanka’s role as adviser is virtually zero now, and Jared has little pull it seems as well. They are New York progressives — young adults of a different era, and despite their loyalty to Daddy Trump, they just don’t share his politics.  And they cannot move him.

And with Trump STILL trying to get rid of Sessions, we see a strange thing: Trump is slowing throwing everyone who helped him win under a bus.

Trump is weak and a loser.  Peggy Noonan took him to task by saying as much, insinuating that he was no more than a whiny sissy boy:

The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.

He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.

And that was just the opening paragraphs.

Trump doesn’t think of himself as a loser, despite having no major legislation passed, and seeing Obamacare repeal and replace go down in flames in dramatic fashion last week.  In fact, he STILL thinks it can be revived (he might be right about that, but most politicians would have moved on).

What Trump wants to do is keep his base – which hovers at around 30% — angry. So be prepared for scorched-earth politics from the Oval Office, including more savage verbal attacks on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, more baseless charges of voter fraud in the 2016 election, more specific threats to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, and further escalation of the culture wars.

Trump wants his base to become increasingly angry and politically mobilized so they’ll continue to exert an outsized influence on the Republican Party

Trump is already demanding that Mitch McConnell and senate Republicans obliterate the filibuster, thereby allowing anything to be passed with a bare majority.

On Saturday he tweeted “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!” adding the filibuster “allows 8 Dems to control country,” and “Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time.”

It’s the same strategy as always. Overstate the wins, and de-legitimize the losses.

Clearly, Scaramucci is a Trump sycophant and will do Trump’s bidding. Kelly, on the other hand, is more of an unknown and perhaps can tame Trump (Trump has conferred with him privately in the past, and apparently trusts him), but that remains to be seen. I suspect Kelly, like Reince, will be relegated to damage control, a full time White House job these days.

UPDATE…. a few hours later:

Well, that was fast. I guess Kelly is making his presence known….

NYT confirms this was Kelly’s doing:

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci, who had boasted about reporting directly to the president not the chief of staff, John F. Kelly, came at Mr. Kelly’s request, the people said. Mr. Kelly made clear to members of the White House staff at a meeting Monday morning that he is in charge.

It was not clear whether Mr. Scaramucci will remain employed at the White House in another position or will leave altogether.

It Happened Last Night

It was dramatic.  Even for 1 a.m. But….

…it appears that any chance of repealing (and replacing?) the Affordable Care Act died last night as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were joined by John McCain in opposing the Senate’s “skinny repeal” bill.

Here’s how it went down.

Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted against a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It was a floor vote Mitch McConnell had promised after the failure of a joint repeal-and-replace bill last week, when defections from both the conservative and the moderate wings of the GOP caucus killed it before it reached a vote.

With both repeal-and-replace and the full repeal bills dead in the water, it was time for Plan C (or D or E or X at this point): “Skinny Repeal.”

“Skinny Repeal” was a frankly terrible bill that would get rid of some of the more problematic aspects of Obamacare, but come nowhere close to a full repeal. The idea was that taking away the individual mandate and the employer mandate, but leaving everything else for the time being, would have been enough to make sure the conservatives and the moderates were all on board.

But, it did not happen. The CBO almost immediately announced 16 million more people would go uninsured (because they would not be forced to buy insurance, but semantics and all that) and insurance companies complained skinny repeal would be disastrous for the market.

As a result, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and John McCain voted against the skinny repeal deal. The final vote was 49-51. Mike Pence had been in attendance in order to break the tie, but McCain’s defection from the caucus threw the bill onto the path of defeat that not even Pence could save it from.

After the vote, McConnell’s statement was simple: “It’s time to move on.”

The GOP has now been given the signal to go ahead and skip on to the next big project: tax reform – a subject I am sure will be much easier to tackle for a body that couldn’t even pass something it had campaigned on for the last 7 years.

The failure of every GOP health care reform initiative is significant because it shows a real weakness within the party in power, and it shows Donald Trump’s weakness as a leader of his party. Both of these weaknesses could potentially play against the GOP in 2018, a year that is (as of now) expected to be particularly harsh on House GOP members.

What’s next for health care reform is anyone’s guess at this point. McConnell has seemingly conceded that it won’t happen, but there are a good many conservative lawmakers who still want to keep that promise. We just don’t know where or when the time to keep that promise will come up again.

This may the only time that an article at Redstate speaks well for my thoughts.

The only thing I would add is… this should be a lesson to Republican politicians and voters about being the anti-everything party. There will come a time when you have to a solution, rather than complain. And if you don’t have a better alternative, you look like an ass.