With Trump, the buck always stops anywhere but with him
When Donald Trump’s Muslim ban failed miserably in the courts, the president was quick to assign blame – to everyone but himself. Now that the health care plan Trump wanted has also collapsed, he’s desperate to avoid responsibility, though he seems unsure who to point the finger at first.
“Look, I’m a team player,” Trump said of the Republican Party. “I’ve played this team. I’ve played with the team. And they just fell a little bit short, and it’s very hard when you need almost 100 percent of the votes and we have no votes, zero, from the Democrats. It’s unheard of.”
Don’t brush past those last three words too quickly: “It’s unheard of.” Republicans pushed a bill that would have stripped tens of millions of Americans of their health coverage, slashed Medicaid, and handed massive tax breaks to the wealthy. Democrats were unanimous in thinking this was a ridiculous plan, and Trump thinks it’s “unheard of” for a party to stand together in opposition to legislation they find offensive.
The president occasionally offers us a reminder that he’s quite new to politics, and has no real familiarity with recent history.
Trump was, however, quite intent on giving Democrats credit for derailing the wildly unpopular GOP plan that House Republicans couldn’t pass despite their largest majority since the 1920s. In relatively brief White House remarks on Friday afternoon, Trump said, “We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do…. With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there…. This really would have worked out better if we could have had some Democrat support. Remember, this, we had no Democrat support.”
In reality, no one in the Republican leadership even tried to earn Democratic support; Democrats weren’t consulted before the bill was crafted; and there was nothing in the bill Democrats could tolerate. The GOP plan was to rely on its massive Republican majority, ignoring Democratic concerns, which (a) didn’t work; and (b) makes it kind of hilarious to hear Trump whine incessantly about the one group of people in Washington who didn’t have any real power over the process.
If Republicans liked the bill it would’ve passed. Trump tried to persuade them; he failed; and the bill died. It’s nice, in a way, for the president to give Dems credit, but it’s also laughable. Of course, the president’s list of culprits extends well beyond the congressional minority. In an apparent bid to make himself feel better, Trump decided to start complaining via Twitter over the weekend about the House Freedom Caucus. He also encouraged his supporters to watch a Fox News host on Saturday night, just hours before she blamed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for the fiasco.
This came on the heels of Trump calling Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), one of Congress’ more moderate Republicans, whom the president angrily accused of “destroying the Republican Party.” (On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Dent largely confirmed the accuracy of the anecdote.)
Politicoreports, meanwhile, that there’s “White House infighting … with warring power centers blaming one another.”
So, for those keeping score, Trump is apparently inclined to blame Democrats, far-right Republicans, moderate Republicans, GOP leaders, and quite possibly factions within the White House, but not himself.
Because as we all know, Donald Trump is never wrong; he can only be wronged. The buck always stops … somewhere else.