“The Sunday Political Brunch”—April 2, 2017
Sunday, April 02, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalWorcester Contributor
It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for President Trump. But every Commander in Chief has patches of rough seas. It’s how you get out of it - and right the ship - that matters. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“Country Roads, West Virginia” – An old bromide in politics counsels a President when things go bad to “Travel to where you are popular; and change the topic of conversation.” After the collapse of the Obamacare repeal, it was Vice President Pence who traveled to West Virginia on Saturday (photo above) and proclaimed, "President Trump and I are confident the United States Senate will confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch [to the Supreme Court] one way or the other." Nowhere is Trump more popular than in West Virginia; and a Gorsuch win will provide a huge boost after the health care meltdown.
“Nuking the Filibuster” – Senate Democrats have already promised to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, but two have bolted. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have pledged to vote "yes" on Gorsuch. That brings his support total to 54 in the Senate, short of the 60 needed to defeat the filibuster. Prediction: Republicans will not get 60 yes votes. Therefore, they will choose the “nuclear option" and blow up current Senate rules, changing them so that a simple majority wins confirmation. Democrats did the same thing a few years back, so it’s tit-for-tat politics. Neil Gorsuch will be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and President Trump will have a win he badly needs.
“Health is Unhealthy” – After the vote to repeal Obamacare was tabled, there was talk President Trump would move on to another issue and return to the Affordable Care Act somewhere down the road. Now, Republicans are talking about rallying another effort to repeal sooner, rather than later. My educated guess is that would be a mistake. The Republican strategy needs to be finding a different issue where they can win. After all, what would happen if they double-down and lose on Obamacare two straight times in short order? The fallout would be devastating. Have a cool-down period, and move on to something else first.
“Political Freedom Isn’t Free” – There is a weird dynamic here. The conservative Republican Freedom Caucus blocked the effort to repeal Obamacare. They are the same rebel group that had earlier prompted former Speaker John Boehner to leave Congress. The membership varies, but is at about three dozen. That’s hardly most of the Republican caucus, but it’s enough to gum up the works. Both President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the Freedom Caucus this week. Then President Trump said he would work with Democrats on health care reform, which in turn upset Speaker Ryan, who does not want to work with Democrats. Are they forming a “circular firing squad?” Stay tuned.
“The Carnival Side Show” – There was criticism this week after first daughter Ivanka Trump was appointed to an official White House job (though unpaid). Her husband, Jared Kushner, is already working in similar capacity (unpaid, too); yet Democrats have made cries of nepotism. This is odd. Hillary Clinton served as an unpaid senior advisor to President Bill Clinton (as she was put in charge of health care reform). Bobby Kennedy was President John Kennedy’s chief confidant and was also U.S. Attorney General. Unless Ivanka tries to sell handbags or her clothing line during Cabinet meetings, this criticism is without merit.
“What’s Next?” – Many have suggested that the President and his Republicans move on to a different issue for now and let health care simmer down. They are talking tax reform as another hot issue. Maybe that’s the path, but what about Mr. Trump’s signature issue, immigration reform? That’s what got him elected. As I suggested in previous columns, they need to break immigration reform down into about eight different bills focused on specific topics, as it will never pass as one huge, all-encompassing bill. Pick an easy topic to win, and look like you are building momentum.
“Why All of This Matters” – NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach John Madden coined a phrase about his profession, noting that “winning is the best deodorant.” Yes, your defense may be weak, or your running game poor, but if you win the game people tend not to care about the details. The San Francisco 49ers may have won five Super Bowls, but their record last season was a meager 2-wins, 14-losses. Politics – like sports – is a “what have you done for me lately” business After a court defeat on immigration and a legislative defeat on Obamacare, the Trump team needs a winning streak.
Question: If you were President Trump, what issue would you tackle next? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com and let us know what you’d do!