Friday, June 30, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He once again made up policy on the spot after watching cable news.

This morning, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) appeared on Fox & Friends during the six o'clock hour to suggest treating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its replacement as two separate issues. Almost immediately, Trump--who has never before endorsed or even discussed the idea, and who certainly had not warned the Senate leadership of this pivot--tweeted out a demand that "Republican Senators" take up precisely this strategy. 

The idea has been floated in the past, but most Republicans rejected it as a strategy because it would mean that any failure--or even the prospect of failure--to meet the new self-imposed deadline of the "repeal" date would cause chaos in the insurance market and lead to massive increases in the number of uninsured people.  Trump himself seemed to be aware of the political dangers of "owning" such a collapse as recently as January.

But while the merits of the policy may be debatable, what is not is that morning cable news shows appear to be a disturbingly effective way--perhaps the only effective way--of getting Trump's attention. Trump's near-verbatim tweet of Sasse's proposal came shortly before another tweet claiming that he had just watched Morning Joe--the show that prompted yesterday's rage-tweeting--"for first time in long time." Trump's TV-watching habits, and the ease with which his mind can be changed by it, are so notorious that a number of politicians and activist groups have deliberately targeted Trump personally with ads or appearances.

What's the problem here?

  • It should not be this easy to manipulate the President of the United States.
  • Part of the job of being president is not sabotaging your own legislative agenda.