A Whiff of the Racket

#extortion | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump, joined by HHS Secretary Tom Price (left) and Vice President Mike Pence (right) explains his intention to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, 24 March 2017, at the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by The Washington Post)

The setup, here, is not particularly complex. We can start with blaming Democrats after the collapse of #Trumpcare, which apparently failed to be #SomethingTerrific. It seems a reliable first instinct for Republicans; that is, as Steve Benen notes:

When Donald Trump’s Muslim ban failed miserably in the courts, the president was quick to assign blame—to everyone but himself. Now that the health care plan Trump wanted has also collapsed, he’s desperate to avoid responsibility, though he seems unsure who to point the finger at first.

Trump’s first instinct, evidently, was to call the Washington Post to blame Democrats.

And if the president seems to be engaging in that weird Republican sense of sport by which one simply says enough wrong that there is no reasonable way to address every problem, well, right, he is. That is to say, here we all are a few weeks later, and Mr. Trump is still upset that Democrats won’t do Republicans’ jobs for them. Again, Benen:

The confused president was nevertheless convinced that Democrats should’ve helped him destroy the most significant Democratic accomplishment since Medicare—because Trump said so. Indeed, despite the White House’s previous claims that Republicans would shift their attention towards tax reform, Trump told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that he not only remains focused on health care, he’s also considering a new hostage strategy to force Democrats to give him what he wants.

In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he was still considering what to do about the payments approved by his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, which some Republicans contend are unconstitutional. Their abrupt disappearance could trigger an insurance meltdown that causes the collapse of the 2010 health law, forcing lawmakers to return to a bruising debate over its future.

“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump said, referring to cost-sharing reductions. “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt…. What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”
In other words, when the president says he doesn’t “want people to get hurt,” he means he will start hurting people by sabotaging the American health care system unless Democrats take steps to satisfy his demands.

This is a terrible habit. That is, we all know Donald Trump likes a bit of the tough-guy, wannabe mafioso bluff, but he is President of the United States of Amerca, and should not be seen threatening extortion over legislation, full stop.

There is enough to say most days about the GOP’s fundamentally antisocial argument and behavior, yet we cannot ignore a marketplace where such cheap and facial contradiction sells like a drug. Still, that one should pitch against the very job they seek—that the job cannot and should not be done—and expect to be hired says what it will about Republican voters, but trying to prove the point like a desperate hypothesis by uttering threats is precisely inappropriate.

To wit, what was it, all of yesterday we heard President Trump threaten FBI Director James Comey?

Just try to convince yourself it is all the same, that a Democratic president would be just like Donald Trump. Remember all the bawling about corruption, and over a quarter-century worth of conspiracy theories about murder, drug trafficking, and even why a head of state from a country hosting our U.S. Navy should have cause to meet with the Secretary of State? Oh, the corruption! All the hand-wringing, bawling crackpots trying to convince you how that woman was just nasty. And whether you bought in or not, the point remains: This is #WhatTheyVotedFor. This wannabe racket is what all of that complaining is about. The problem isn’t necessarily the idea of corruption, per se; with Republicans generally and Trump voters in particular, this bullying, petulant, wannabe extortion is precisely what they want. That is to say, the Republican corruption and inability to govern proves, for their purposes, that government doesn’t work. Which, in turn, is why you should blame the Democrats for the failure of government; after all, Democrats just aren’t doing enough to help sabotage the government—Democrats just aren’t patriotic enough to wreck the nation.


Image note: President Donald Trump, joined by HHS Secretary Tom Price (left) and Vice President Mike Pence (right) explains his intention to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, 24 March 2017, at the White House, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by The Washington Post)

Benen, Steve. “As FBI probe continues, Trump says it’s ‘not too late’ to fire Comey”. msnbc. 12 April 2017.

—————. “Trump considers provocative new hostage strategy on health care”. msnbc. 13 April 2017.

—————. “With Trump, the buck always stops anywhere but with him”. msnbc. 27 March 2017.

Costa, Robert. “‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead”. The Washington Post. 24 March 2017.

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