Saturday, March 25, 2017

Look in the mirror sir...

"Time for all to look in the mirror. Do some soul searching. We have lots more left to do. Time to play our 'A' game."

One of my favorite lines from the rock opera Tommy (from about a hundred years ago), was "look in the mirror boy". I thought about that yesterday when all the postmortems were coming in about "what the hell just happened?" Was it that bad? Oh yeah - it was. In the Navy when you were a part of a monumental screw up, you popped tall, looked the chief or officer in charge squarely in the eyes and said, "No excuse sir!" Not our guys though. Not a bit.

Donald Trump is a business guy. He is not used to failures of epic proportions which were caused by members of his own team. If this were one of his companies, many folks would be cleaning out their desks today. This failure ran deep and wide. An old adage in the business world is "Success has many fathers whereas failure is always an orphan." This failure however, had hundreds of fathers.

Why do I say that? For seven years now, the cry from the GOP was "Repeal". Not by one person - by hundreds. Then the question was raised, "Then what?" So the cry was modified to be "Repeal and replace!" In fact many times legislation was sent to President Obama's desk to repeal ObamaCare. And it was vetoed. The dirty little secret was this - there was no "replace". It was smoke and mirrors.

It has been thought by many on my side of the aisle that the way ObamaCare was cobbled together was the pinnacle of incompetence. Wrong. Yesterday, the GOP made Barack Obama look good. The GOP made the failing ObamaCare look good. The GOP made the way the Democrats govern look good. Do I need to go on? All of a sudden yesterday, the GOP stole the mantle of "the gang who can't shoot straight".

One postscript to this article. A ray of hope. President Trump has bee in many negotiations. He really does understand the art of the deal. Congress may not, but the President does. Yesterday afternoon he made an somewhat cloaked offer to the Democrats that once ObamaCare really turns south, he would be open to working with them to fix it. Here was the hidden message however - you have already seen my best offer on the table. And not one of you supported it. The next offer you see out of me when I work with you will not be nearly as good. How do I know this? I know how the negotiation game works. Been there, done that.

Time for all to look in the mirror. Do some soul searching. We have lots more left to do. Time to play our "A" game. 


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  2. Big policy change is hard. The modern Republican Party has built itself in opposition. Paul Ryan won fame designing budgets that were never meant to pass, and by criticizing Barack Obama. Donald Trump established himself as a political force through his leadership of the crackpot birther movement. This is a party that has forgotten how to do the slow, arduous work of governing. Perhaps it’s worse than that. This is a party, in many ways, that has built its majority upon a contempt for the compromises, quarter-loaves, and tough trade-offs that governing entails. They need to learn from this defeat, or they are doomed to repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it.

    In the interviews Trump is giving today, it is clear he has somehow convinced himself tax reform will be easier. It won’t be. And soon, Republicans will have to raise the debt ceiling, and pass their appropriations bills, and, if they’re going to hold to any of Trump’s budget proposals, find 60 votes to bust the budget caps. And they’re going to do all of that with the myth of Ryan’s policy genius and Trump’s dealmaking skill shattered.