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Trump has been dogging McConnell all day, and oh look . . . he's still doing it
And it can be expected to continue until a certain "master of Senate procedure" decides to use his so-called mastery to pass the agenda he claims to support.
Don't believe for a minute that Beltway politicians have no fear of Donald Trump, although every conventional political operative will tell that's the case because Trump lacks "political capital." That means he's not very popular right now so politicians figure they will pay no price for ignoring him when he implores them to do things.
But Trump has something past presidents did not have: Nerve. Everyone tells Trump not to pick fights with the Senate Majority Leader? Trump picks them anyway. Everyone tells Trump not to tweet? Trump tweets twice as much. Everyone tells Trump it's untoward to attack members of your own party? Trump steps it up.
One of the reasons the political class was so uniform in its opposition to Trump was the fear that he would do this very thing. When politicians ignore the priorities of the people for their own selfish reasons, presidents are supposed to just shrug their shoulders. I believe George W. Bush was a much better president than he tends to get credit for, but one of his biggest mistakes was his reluctance to fight with the Republican Congress he had from 2001 to 2006. They were reluctant to do all kinds of things Bush wanted them to do, including health care reform, entitlement reform, tax reform and removing the shackles on domestic energy resources. Bush was raring to go on all these things, but Beltway Republicans preferred to keep spending and taxing in the usual Washington way, so long as they money could go to Republican-approved recipients.
Bush was afraid that a public fight with a Congress of his own party would produce a Democrat Congress. So he did not pressure them, they did very little that they should have done, and we ended up with a Democrat Congress anyway.
But according to conventional thinking, Bush did it the right way. Trump, on the other hand, is an unhinged lunatic because he keep publicly telling Mitch McConnell it's not OK to not do his job.
Now, it was McConnell who started this by declaring yesterday that Trump had embraced "excessive expectations" about what a Republican Senate could do. This is a familiar refrain from McConnell, who protests that parliamentary rules and other procedures make it much harder to pass things in the Senate than people understand. That is true (although it's not the reason ObamaCare repeal failed), but it's also true that the majority makes these rules, and McConnell refuses to even try to change them. So what does he value more? Getting things done that the American people need done? Or preserving arcane Senate traditions?
Trump didn't accept the excuse yesterday, and he's poured it on today:
Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
Incoming press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also confirmed that Trump and McConnell spoke on the phone for about an hour on Wednesday, and it wasn't just a light chat. Trump has had it with McConnell's excuses. McConnell has probably had it with Trump's public criticism, but who cares? The president, the Senate and the House all have jobs to do. The House did theirs. The president stands ready to do his. Only the Senate is fouling this up.
Now look, I realize it wasn't McConnell who killed the "skinny repeal" bill. It was Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain who stabbed their own party (and the American people) in the back and joined Democrats to defeat the measure. But here's a piece of business we're not going to enjoy dealing with, although I think we have no choice. Remember when Harry Reid was the Senate Minority Leader? Of course you do. Nightmares don't fade from your memory that quickly. Now Harry Reid is a detestable human being. But when he wanted to get something passed, he got Democrats in line and got it passed. I don't know all the things he did to get those votes and I'm not sure I want to know, but he got them. When Harry Reid wanted the filibuster rules changed on judicial appointments, he got them changed. Reid ruled the Senate with an iron fist and did whatever he wanted to do, because no one in his Democrat majority dared to opposed him.
Forget about the question of who fears Donald Trump. Who the hell fears Mitch McConnell? Does anyone? What price will Collins, Murkowski and McCain pay for their ObamaCare betryal? Even a little one?
And just how badly did McConnell want ObamaCare passed in the first place? He's now declared twice that it's "time to move on" while the president and conservatives everywhere are telling him to get back to work and get the job done. Why do we have to keep pushing him to do that? Why isn't he as driven to solve this problem as the rest of us are?
This is why President Trump keeps dogging him. Because he's the weak link and he seems to be perfectly fine with that. If there aren't the votes, get them. If the rules are too difficult, change them. You're the leader. That's what you do. No one said it was supposed to be easy. But it's your job.
And do-nothing Washington politicians aren't used to presidents who dog them for not doing their jobs. They don't like having to deal with one. But the American people don't like having to deal with ObamaCare, a ridiculous tax code and all the other problems we're still stuck with because of do-nothing, milquetoast politicians like Mitch McConnell.
We're always hearing that McConnell is a master of Senate procedure. Wonderful. Use that mastery to pass the agenda you claim to support or it's entirely worthless - as are you.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!