During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump thrilled his rally-goers with a typically boastful exclamation. “We’re going to win so much,” he warned, “you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.” He nailed the “sick and tired” part, but after six months there has been almost nothing that he can claim as a victory.
Most recently, his mission to repeal ObamaCare failed to pass in a Senate controlled by Republicans. Never mind that the GOP voted dozens of times to kill the popular healthcare plan when Barack Obama was president. They just couldn’t manage to do it with a fellow Republican in the White House with pen in hand.
Trump’s latest failure produced a predictable tantrum on Twitter that did nothing but affirm his affinity for whining. In a five-tweet opus, the crybaby President complained about the Senate’s voting rules and impotently demanded reform.
First of all, last week Republicans brought three separate repeal bills to the floor. They all lost with forty-nine or fewer votes. They only needed fifty-one votes to pass. So Trump’s tirade about the 60-vote rule was utterly irrelevant. There was no such rule in effect. More likely, he was just creating a distraction to take the sting off of yet another embarrassing defeat. So far he has blamed the Democrats, his press secretary, his chief of staff, and now the Republicans. Nothing is ever his fault. But wasn’t he supposed to be the brilliant dealmaker who would get everything he wanted on the strength of his magnetic personality? And . . . so much winning!
The one thing that Trump got right was his assertion that Republicans “look like fools.” And he, of course, is the titular leader of the Republican Party. The GOP’s obsession with killing a bill that polls show is favored by majorities of the public is indeed foolish. It is foolish to try so hard to replace that bill with one that has public approval in the teens. And pushing a proposal that will take insurance away from as many as 32 million people is foolhardy in the extreme.
So why is Trump suddenly ranting about arcane Senate rules that have nothing to do with last week’s vote? The answer is the same as to why Trump does almost anything: He saw it on Fox News. Saturday morning on Fox and Friends, GOP Rep. Sean Duffy was interviewed about the Senate bill’s failure. He dodged the substance of the matter to complain about his feeble senate counterparts. “We’ve passed 200 bills,” he said, “that right now sit in the Senate waiting for them to pass.” And while Duffy blamed the 60-vote rule for that logjam, the responsibility actually lies with Mitch McConnell. As Senate Majority Leader, he controls the calendar and decides what will come up for a vote and when.
Clearly, Trump was watching and, as he often does, tweeted what he just saw on TV. And it wasn’t just any news program. It was his favorite show, hosted by the biggest bunch of imbeciles on television. The “Curvy Couch” potatoes on Fox and Friends frequently discharge easily debunked falsehoods in the service of right-wing propaganda. And our incurious president retweets them without the slightest effort to confirm. It’s a cycle that repeats on a nearly daily basis. And it’s the best explanation for why Trump and his Republican colleagues – as Trump himself agrees – look like fools.