Room for Improvement

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Room for Improvement

In the wake of the U.S. Senate’s non-​vote on repeal­ing Oba­macare, one of the bet­ter memes now cir­cu­lat­ing fea­tures a gallery of chat­ter­ing Sen­a­tors, adorned with the leg­end (I’m para­phras­ing) “Stuff like this is why Trump won.”

Yup. That, and the fact that he’s not Hillary Clinton.

Was his elec­tion a one-​term hold­ing action, or was it a polit­i­cal water­shed? Will he leave behind any­thing but mem­o­ries of his tweets? Six months after the elec­tion, I still can’t tell. At least he’s not Clin­ton — but that’s a low bar to clear.

There have been pluses. Pres­i­dent Trump has seen at least one project through from begin­ning to end: the con­fir­ma­tion of Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil Gor­such, who may yet prove to be a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to the late Jus­tice Scalia. Trump has acknowl­edged Obamacare’s attacks on reli­gious lib­erty, pub­licly announc­ing that the Lit­tle Sis­ters of the Poor could stop wor­ry­ing about the gov­ern­ment try­ing to coerce them into get­ting involved in the con­tra­cep­tion busi­ness. (He stopped short of block­ing enforce­ment of the odi­ous con­tra­cep­tive man­date alto­gether.) In a recent speech in War­saw, he unam­bigu­ously affirmed NATO’s Arti­cle Five to an audi­ence that wasn’t quite sure he’d do that.

Those are encour­ag­ing moves, as far as they go.

What I haven’t seen in the past six months — to pick just one item — is progress on the Oba­macare mess. The Sen­ate, with its non-​vote on Oba­macare repeal, has just handed Trump a golden oppor­tu­nity to set his mark on sub­stan­tive pol­icy. If he set­tles for the we’re-just-going-to-let-it-fail line, he’ll squan­der his chance.

If Don­ald Trump wants to repeal Oba­macare as badly as Barack Obama wanted to impose it, he’ll go back to the vot­ers, face to face, to make the case for repeal.

Not tweets. Not press con­fer­ences. Not sur­ro­gates. The sit­u­a­tion calls for Trump him­self, barn­storm­ing, address­ing vot­ers in per­son, encour­ag­ing focused action. He demon­strated last year as a can­di­date that he knows the drill.

He — and we — have noth­ing to lose from such an effort, given the unbe­liev­able fail­ure of the GOP leg­isla­tive major­ity to act.

About the first six months of Trump pres­i­den­tial tweets: where some see pugnac­ity in the more abra­sive posts, I see con­tempt. (Tomato, tom­ahto.) I also see fod­der for a hun­dred Demo­c­ra­tic Con­gres­sional cam­paign ads. And I see zero chance that the Pres­i­dent will mod­er­ate his tone. He would prob­a­bly remind me that he wasn’t elected to be moderate.

In the wake of the U.S. Senate’s non-vote on repealing Obamacare, one of the better memes now circulating features a gallery of chattering Senators, adorned with the legend (I’m paraphrasing) “Stuff like this is why Trump won.”

Yup. That, and the fact that he’s not Hillary Clinton.

Was his election a one-term holding action, or was it a political watershed? Will he leave behind anything but memories of his tweets? Six months after the election, I still can’t tell. At least he’s not Clinton – but that’s a low bar to clear.

There have been pluses. President Trump has seen at least one project through from beginning to end: the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who may yet prove to be a worthy successor to the late Justice Scalia.  Trump has acknowledged Obamacare’s attacks on religious liberty, publicly announcing that the Little Sisters of the Poor could stop worrying about the government trying to coerce them into getting involved in the contraception business. (He stopped short of blocking enforcement of the odious contraceptive mandate altogether.) In a recent speech in Warsaw, he unambiguously affirmed NATO’s Article Five to an audience that wasn’t quite sure he’d do that.

Those are encouraging moves, as far as they go.

What I haven’t seen in the past six months – to pick just one item – is progress on the Obamacare mess.  The Senate, with its non-vote on Obamacare repeal, has just handed Trump a golden opportunity to set his mark on substantive policy. If he settles for the we’re-just-going-to-let-it-fail line, he’ll squander his chance.

If Donald Trump wants to repeal Obamacare as badly as Barack Obama wanted to impose it, he’ll go back to the voters, face to face, to make the case for repeal.

Not tweets. Not press conferences. Not surrogates. The situation calls for Trump himself, barnstorming, addressing voters in person, encouraging focused action. He demonstrated last year as a candidate that he knows the drill.

He – and we – have nothing to lose from such an effort, given the unbelievable failure of the GOP legislative majority to act.

About the first six months of Trump presidential tweets: where some see pugnacity in the more abrasive posts, I see contempt. (Tomato, tomahto.) I also see fodder for a hundred Democratic Congressional campaign ads. And I see zero chance that the President will moderate his tone. He would probably remind me that he wasn’t elected to be moderate.