That’s a doozy of a subheading, but we felt it was completely appropriate this week. It is a direct quote, from conservative (and “Never Trump”) commentator Ana Navarro. During an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Navarro responded to Trump’s recent tweetstorm attacking Mika Brzezinski by calling on Republicans to say to Trump (either on television or personally) the following:
“Listen, you crazy, lunatic, 70-year-old man-baby, stop it. You are now the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, and you need to stop acting like a mean girl, because we just won’t take it.”
We’ve saved her entire rant for the talking points, because it is indeed worth reading in full; but because it was the most forceful pushback on Trump we heard all week, we thought it deserved headline status. Tell us what you really think, Ana!
Of course, she wasn’t the only conservative to chime in on Trump’s petulance. Charles Krauthammer pulled no punches in his response either:
“Presidents don’t talk like this. They never have. This is what it sounds like when you’re living in a banana republic. This is how Hugo Chávez would talk about his opponents. This is how the worst dictator, Duterte in the Philippines, would talk about opponents.”
When a Fox News contributor meekly pointed out that at least Trump wasn’t “sending military guards to go shut down” the press, Krauthammer fired back:
“When you defend the president of the United States by pointing out that he hasn’t sent the tanks out in the streets to shut down the media, you’ve reached a fairly low level of defense.”
It wasn’t just conservatives piling on, though. Anderson Cooper addressed the issue on his program:
“Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, a teeny tiny violin is playing the world’s saddest song for the most powerful man on earth. Other than that, few are shedding any tears for the president’s plight.”
Cooper went on to challenge the assertion that Trump was “tough,” in no uncertain terms:
“Tough is fighting for the health-care reforms that he actually campaigned on. Tough is rising above insults and actually leading. What our president does is not a display of toughness. It’s a display of weakness of character, of thinness of skin.”
But the best thing Cooper did was to read from Trump’s own Crippled America book, which was “full of advice on how a president ought to behave”:
The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held? That means everyone in the administration should look and act professionally, especially the president. Impressions matter.
This is just a small sampling of the many, many responses Trump’s whiny tweets gave birth to in the past two days. Mika Brzezinski may have had the best response, tweeting back a photo of a box of Cheerios with the slogan “made for little hands.” An NBC News executive had perhaps the most poignant response:
“Never imagined the day when I would think to myself, ‘it is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States.’”
Orrin Hatch had the most head-scratching response, though, reportedly saying of Trump’s tweeting habits:
“Every once in a while, you get a dipsy-doodle!”
Um, what? Can someone please translate that one, to twentieth-century vernacular?
The “Morning Joe” tweetstorm has now entered its second day, so there will undoubtedly be more reactions to come.
But, of course, there are other things happening in the political world in the meantime. At this time last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was confidently predicting that by this point the Senate would have voted on his healthcare bill. There would be a vote he swore, up and down. Then his own Republicans began fleeing the wreckage. He could only afford to lose two votes, but within hours of the plan’s release, four had sworn they weren’t going to vote for it. Then the dismal C.B.O. score was made public, causing moderates to abandon ship. By the time McConnell threw in the towel, that number had climbed to nine. He spent the remainder of the week desperately trying to square the circle between those who wanted the bill to be even more Draconian and those who were horrified by the real-world effects it would have on their own constituents.
Now the Tea Partiers are just flat-out pushing for: “repeal Obamacare now, and then we’ll replace it later.” Trump has even weighed in on the “repeal now” side, tweeting:
“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
Yeah, that’s the ticket!
In other words, the wheels have officially come off the bus. A few billion extra for opioid addiction treatment isn’t going to save this patient, in other words. If Trump and the Tea Partiers had their way ― and if they were unable to agree on a replacement plan in time ― then we already know what would happen (due to the C.B.O. scoring this exact plan, last year): instead of 22 million losing coverage, that number would jump to 32 million. Instead of 15 million forced off Medicaid, the number would instead be 19 million.
But we’re spending a lot of the talking points section on healthcare, so we’ll just move along for the time being. In other news: the Supreme Court wound up its session this week, and Anthony Kennedy did not announce his retirement (whew!).
Donald Trump continued to rail against what he called “fake news,” while a news organization was busy figuring out that several Trump properties had an image hanging on their wall which showed Trump on the cover of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009. This came complete with laughably non-standard Time headlines such as: “The Apprentice is a television smash!” and “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS ― EVEN TV!” Turns out that Time didn’t even put an issue out on that date, and the whole thing was nothing more than (you guessed it) fake news. Within days, these framed images began disappearing from the walls of Trump properties, but not before we all got a big laugh at him being hoist on his own petard.
To be scrupulously fair, we have to point out that sometimes the other side gets things wrong as well. Someone hired an airplane to fly a message over Charleston, West Virginia, in an effort to sway a senator’s vote on healthc are. It read: “SEN HELLER KEEP YOUR WORD VOTE NO ON TRUMPCARE” ― but Dean Heller’s state is a few thousand miles from where the message appeared. Next time, try “Senator Capito,” folks, and it might be a wee bit more effective.
Other amusing news, this time from an economic conference in Germany. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was there to deliver an address. Here’s what happened:
“Ross was allotted 10 minutes to speak. After he spoke for more than 20, the conference organizers cut his feed mid-sentence. The audience ‘laughed and clapped’ in response.”
In other foreign news, this Washington Post headline pretty much speaks for itself: “Pentagon Plan To Defeat ISIS Looks Very Much Like Obama’s Approach.”
Jason Chaffetz is “pulling a Sarah Palin” and retiring early from his elected position in the House. On his way out the door, he had a rather bizarre suggestion ― representatives and senators should get an extra $30,000 a year as a “housing allowance.” Because it’s really, really hard making a $174,000 salary stretch, right Jason? This is the same guy, in case anyone’s forgotten, who made news earlier this year by suggesting that poor people could afford healthcare if they’d just give up “that new iPhone they just love.” Maybe his channeling of Marie Antoinette is merely a bargaining chip for his next job, though ― by week’s end, he had announced he’d be a new regular on Fox News. Assumably, he worked out that extra $30,000 with them in advance.
Finally, to end on a positive note, we would like to wish all our neighbors to the north a happy sesquicentennial this weekend! As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, though, it hit a milestone in polling it has never measurably hit before. From a Canadian news source (hence the British spelling) comes the following:
A deep national revulsion toward President Donald Trump has sent Canadians’ opinions of the United States plummeting to a level of antipathy never before seen in the 35 years a pollster has been asking. A major Pew Research survey released on Monday found that just 43 per cent of Canadians hold a favourable view of the U.S., with 51 per cent holding an unfavourable view. That is a steep decline since last year, the final year of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency, when Pew found 65 per cent of Canadians favourably disposed to the U.S. And it is lower than even the low point of the unpopular presidency of Republican George W. Bush, when 55 per cent of Canadians were favourable. At no time since at least the early 1980s, and likely much earlier, has a majority of Canadians held a negative view of our neighbour and ally. “Maybe it was pretty bad in 1812,” joked Environics Institute executive director Keith Neuman, “but there’s no data for that.” The rise of Trump has almost certainly caused the precipitous fall. Under Obama last year, 83 per cent of Canadians had confidence in the president to do the right thing in world affairs. Under Trump this year, it is a mere 22 per cent.
Or, to quote the learnèd Canuck philosophers Bob and Doug McKenzie: “Take off, eh?”
Congress is supposed to have a rather large say in whether America goes marching off to war or not, according to the Constitution. They have largely abdicated this responsibility for the past 16 years, and a good case can even be made that they haven’t lived up to their clear constitutional duty in this regard since World War II.
Which is why our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is Representative Barbara Lee, who has been trying to remind her fellow congressmen of their responsibilities for many, many years now. This week, she was surprisingly successful in forcing this debate (at least in the House, for now). Here’s the story:
Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California has expressed surprise that one of her anti-war proposals is actually going to be debated by the House of Representatives. It seems like that deliberative body is finally going to, well, deliberate. The House Appropriations Committee panel has agreed to an amendment proposed by Lee that would force a vote on a 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, according to a report by the Associated Press. This would in effect constitute requiring a new vote authorizing the battle against the Islamic State. If Lee’s amendment is passed, it would repeal the law allowing military operations to continue beyond the durations that were initially considered when they first initiated. The repeal would occur 240 days after the bill’s enactment. Lee’s objective is to have a robust debate on whether renewing authorization of the 2001 law is morally and strategically sound. Apparently, many of her fellow Republicans agree with her. “The last 16 years, it has become increasingly clear that this AUMF has essentially provided the president, any president, the authority to wage war in perpetuity,” Lee said, according to Politico.
She’s right about that last part. America has been at war for 16 years now ― the longest wartime period the nation has ever experienced ― and Congress has completely punted any oversight of the executive branch during the entire period. This has now lasted through three different presidents. The AUMF passed back then is woefully out of date, and debating its scope and possible limitations and downsides is seriously overdue.
Lee has been introducing this idea for years, and was perhaps the most surprised that the House ― under Republican leadership, no less ― is now going to go forward with this debate. But then again this isn’t so much a partisan issue as it is an issue of congressional cravenness. After all, Lee was not successful in her effort to force a debate under a Republican president and a Democratic president. She did not succeed while Republicans held the speaker’s gavel, and she did not succeed while Nancy Pelosi led the House.
But she persevered, and she finally succeeded in moving the issue to the floor of the entire House (rather than just her committee). For refusing to give up, and for her effort to shame Congress into doing what the Constitution says they should have been doing all along, Barbara Lee is easily our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. After all, the enemy we are now fighting (the Islamic State) did not even exist when the AUMF was originally passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. Debating the scope of the continuing war is indeed long overdue.
[Congratulate Representative Barbara Lee on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]
This one is going to be a collective award. To all the Democrats in the California state legislature, we are handing you your very own Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week, for what we are going to call “pulling a Republican move.” Republicans (most notably Paul Ryan, but he’s certainly not the only one) have increasingly been reluctant to provide details for any of their grand schemes. Rather than put together a draft of a bill, they instead put out a “list of bullet points” or a laughably-inadequate “white paper” explaining (for instance) why cutting the safety net for everyone will be fantastic for all. By not providing actual numbers, it makes it a whole lot harder to fight back against such ideas.
Now, we’ve obviously seen in the past few weeks why this is true ― because when some neutral party actually does put realistic numbers on a Republican agenda plan, those numbers are terrible for everyone living outside the confines of the one percent. So it’s understandable why they try to hide the numbers.
Democrats, however, cannot take the high road in complaining about such fuzziness when they themselves occasionally resort to the same shell game. Which is where California legislators come into the picture.
California’s economy is huge. It routinely measures in the top ten national economies of the world (usually in sixth or seventh place). So it’s big enough ― if the political will existed ― to go it alone on healthcare and institute a single-payer plan for everyone. It would certainly be an interesting experiment for the largest U.S. state economy to attempt.
The California senate passed a bill to do so. Or, to be strictly accurate, half a bill. They passed a draft which laid out how a single-payer system would work, but they omitted any mention of how it would be paid for. They didn’t finish their homework, and scribbled in a few hasty lines on the bus-ride to school that morning.
This is beyond disappointing.
After passing their half-plan, they then had the nerve to be annoyed when the Democrats in the state assembly refused to deal with it at all. In effect, this sent the message: “We ate all the ice cream, so why didn’t you guys eat all the vegetables?”
Single-payer systems will necessitate a lot of disruption. That is just a fact. Changes will be necessary, from how paychecks are figured to the split between government, employers, and employees, and all sorts of other things that will need adjusting to move from what we’ve got now to single-payer. Any honest progressive will easily admit as much. Progressives insist that single-payer will be better in the end, even if there will be some changes to get used to in the short term. Those changes will likely include a new payroll tax to pay for the system.
As we’ve seen with Obamacare, people are always wary of change. Especially in the healthcare arena. What this means is that it’s going to take a period of education for the public to get used to the idea. The pros and cons must be weighed fairly, and this means letting people know what the entire system would look like.
The California Democratic senators didn’t do so. They refused to even make the real argument, instead preferring if the assembly do all the heavy lifting. Now, we don’t fault the Democratic senators and assemblymen equally ― we think the senators bear far more of this blame. The assembly could always have stepped up to the plate and laid out the real case, but it was really incumbent upon the senators to offer up a full and detailed plan. They didn’t do so.
Progressives like to tout the superiority of single-payer systems. But they also need to explain “here’s what the differences ― good and bad ― will be, for everyone.” By refusing to do so, the California legislators have actually set the effort back, instead of advancing it.
Next time, we would strongly urge Democrats to stop acting like Paul Ryan. Lay out the entire plan, and allow the public to debate it in full. The effort could take years to accomplish, which is why it’s important from the start to be honest about the scope of the changes which will have to take place.
California legislators absolutely failed to do so. For this, we are awarding them all a group Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Go back to the drawing board, guys, and next time finish your work before introducing it to the public. Have the courage of your convictions, in other words.
[Contact California Democratic legislators via the official state legislative website, to let them know what you think of their actions.]
Volume 443 (6/30/17)
This was a week where there were so many possible talking points to choose from that we had to just ignore whole swaths of them to retain our focus on what’s important. So we’ve limited the talking points about Trump’s feud with his television screen to the final two, which contain the aforementioned full transcript of Ana Navarro’s remarks. Most of the rest of them focus on what Trump was trying to distract us all from with his tweetstorm: the utter failure of the Republican Party to come up with anything even close to an acceptable replacement for Obamacare, after seven full years of promising to do so.
This is the real story. This is the important battle. So this week we’ve got to forgo all sorts of other distractions that could easily be made into talking points. Here’s just one generic example: “Why is Donald Trump so afraid to hold press conferences? He’s only held one solo presser in his entire time in office, whereas most presidents historically have held six or seven by this point.”
This week, instead, we have to remain vigilant on the Mitch McConnell and the Senate healthcare bill. Some celebrated early that the bill was dead, but a more-correct view is that it could always come back ― as any horror movie fan will tell you, you never want to turn your back on the zombie, because it could come back to life at any moment.
With that cheerful image to contemplate, let’s just get right to the talking points.
Although he doesn’t use the word, Paul Krugman lays out the painfully obvious case that what the Republicans are interested in passing isn’t healthcare, it is in fact “wealthcare.”
Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act ― death panels! ― repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority. Once the prospect of repeal became real, however, Republicans had to face the fact that Obamacare, far from being the failure they portrayed, has done what it was supposed to do: It used higher taxes on the rich to pay for a vast expansion of health coverage. Correspondingly, trying to reverse the A.C.A. means taking away health care from people who desperately need it in order to cut taxes on the rich.
Perception? No, reality.
Jennifer Rubin used to be a rabidly-conservative blogger for the Washington Post. She harped on the Benghazi non-scandal so much it earned her the nickname “Jenghazi” in the comments, in fact. But since the rise of Trump, she has totally changed her tune. At this point, it wouldn’t even surprise any of her readers in the least if she suddenly announced she’s going to support the Democratic Party. She just laid out 20 reasons why the Republican healthcare bill “crashed and burned.” Three of them could have been written by Krugman (except, in number 14, the word “perception” should really be “reality”), and the fourth we just threw in because it was so amusing, at the end.
3. Taking benefits away from people to give tax cuts to the rich is a dream target for Democrats. . . . 14. Rolling out a half-baked tax plan with supersize cuts for the rich only intensified the perception that the GOP cares only about tax cuts for the rich. . . . 19. Standing up for “hardworking taxpayers” could not disguise the fact that the overwhelming amount of tax relief was going to the richest Americans. 20. You cannot pass major legislation with a policy-illiterate president who cannot explain what’s in it and therefore cannot persuade voters and lawmakers of its merits.
The terrible, terrible numbers
There’s a reason Republicans don’t want to look at numbers, and that reason is that for all their wonderful Ayn Randian dreams, the numbers are terrible for most everyone.
“Because the Senate ― unlike the House ― actually waited until the Congressional Budget Office scored their legislation before voting on it, they were faced with the absolutely horrific outcome their bill would cause. Medicaid slashed by hundreds of billions of dollars. An astounding 22 million Americans forced off their health insurance. Democrat senator Ron Wyden even had the time to get additional numbers from the C.B.O. later in the week, which showed that even those terrible numbers didn’t show the whole picture. Since much of the Medicaid budget-slashing was loaded at the very end of the 10-year period the C.B.O. scored, it didn’t show what would happen next. In the first ten years, Medicaid would be cut by 26 percent. This rises to a jaw-dropping 35 percent in the next decade, though. As if all these brutal numbers weren’t enough, by week’s end public polling became available, showing that the Senate plan had the support of only 12 to 17 percent of the American public. This is not a popular plan, folks ― not by a longshot.”
McConnell snubs March of Dimes
Mitch McConnell has had a pretty rough week, all around.
“Mitch McConnell thought he’d use the same tactics the House of Representatives used ― with a secret bill, and almost no time to debate before voting on it ― but it all blew up in his face this week. By now, the Senate was supposed to have voted on the bill, but McConnell had to pull it from the floor early in the week, after the Congressional Budget Office score was so breathtakingly bad. With only 52 Republican senators, McConnell could only afford to lose two votes. By Wednesday, nine GOP senators had gone on the record against the bill as drafted. Ouch. The most biting criticism of McConnell’s refusal to get input from anyone concerned, however, was the following tweet from Harry Reid’s former chief of staff: ‘The March of Dimes helped McConnell recover from childhood polio. They oppose his health care bill. But he refuses to meet with them.’ Nothing shows the mean-spirited nature of McConnell’s bill quite so personally and dramatically, I have to say.”
How the rest of the world sees us
No surprise here, really.
“Donald Trump said during his campaign that he wanted to restore the image of America in the rest of the world. So how’s that going? A recent Pew Research poll of 37 foreign countries shows that favorable ratings of the United States decreased from 64 percent during the end of the Obama administration to only 49 percent today. When asked directly about the president, the numbers were even worse. Obama garnered 64 percent confidence from the rest of the world, while Trump manages a dismal 22 percent rating. The numbers are even more brutal when broken down by country. In Germany, Obama held an 86 percent confidence rating. Trump is rated at only 11 percent. In France, it went from 84 percent to 14 percent. In Britain, Trump gets 22 percent to Obama’s 79 percent. And in Spain, while Obama got a 75 percent approval rating, Trump is down to single digits ― only seven percent of Spaniards approve of his presidency. The only big gain Trump got in the entire world was in Russia, where Obama only got 11 percent, while Trump enjoys a rating of 53 percent. That last one is not too surprising, though, when you think about it.”
Mean and nasty man-baby
And finally, we end with the promised full transcript of Ana Navarro, from Wolf Blitzer’s show. Watch the clip, if you haven’t seen it yet, as merely reading her words doesn’t leave you with the same sense of outrage which Navarro put into her narrative on her reaction to Trump attacking the Morning Joe hosts.
Well look, when I first saw the tweet this morning, I was frankly disgusted. I thought to myself, this dude has such a fixation with women and blood. What is wrong with him? And then you remember that this dude, this disgusting dude, is the president of the United States. And you realize just how much he is diminishing the presidency of the United States. You realize that what he is doing is not just acting for Donald Trump. He’s acting for all of us. He’s acting for our president, and he is embarrassing. He is shameful. He is disgusting. And I’ll say this about Republicans. I’m really tired of hearing words like: “disappointed,” like: “disturbed,” like: “I’m bothered,” like: “I wish he wouldn’t do it.” It’s time that somebody looks at the camera and looks at him and calls him up and says: “Listen, you crazy, lunatic 70-year-old man-baby, stop it. You are now the president of United States, the commander-in-chief and you need to stop acting like a mean girl because we just won’t take it. We won’t vote with you, we won’t work with you. I can’t start talking about tax reform. I can’t start talking about health care reform because I can’t get past the fact that we have a president who lacks the sufficient character.” We have a president who is mean. We have a president who is nasty. We have a president who is immature, unstable, and just acts like a crazy person with anybody who attacks him because he has got thin skin and he is never going to pivot and anybody around him, whether it’s his daughter, his chief of staff, his wife ― who I remind you had said her signature issue was going to be fighting against online bullying ― or any Republican on the Hill, stop enabling him. Confront this and confront this hard, or it will never stop, and it will embarrass all of us. It will take the presidency low, low, low.
Tend your knitting, or seek therapy
Blitzer then asked Navarro what the president should do to fix the situation. Navarro was equally as blunt, speaking directly to the president.
Stop. Look, if you can’t control your tweeting habits, then stop tweeting. Go seek therapy. Go knit. Find a hobby. Talk to your wife. Do anger management. You’ve got to realize, once and for all, you are no longer just Donald Trump. You’re no longer just speaking for Trump Tower, and Trump brand, and Trump hotels, and Trump steaks. You are speaking for an entire country and our people do not deserve to be embarrassed and be represented by somebody who is so unfit for the job. So you’ve got to start pivoting. You’ve got to start acting presidential. You should have started six months ago. But start now if you couldn’t do it back then.
Chris Weigant blogs at:
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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