Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, January 18th, 2017.


Avant le déluge

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Obama Administration

So here we are, two days before Trump’s inauguration. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard so far is that Trump won’t start work until Monday. He told the Times of London,

People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country and you know in this country we’re gonna go very strong borders from the day I get in. One of the first orders I’m gonna sign – day one – which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right? I mean my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration, but one of the first orders we’re gonna be signing is gonna be strong borders.

(#firstninetysevendays)

The man doesn’t drink, but he needs Saturday and Sunday to recover from the inauguration? Or maybe he’s just trying to put it off. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei wrote:

When we went to interview him in his office in Trump Tower on Tuesday, 72 hours before he takes office, we expected the emphatic showman who was on display through the campaign, and as recently as last week’s press conference.

Instead we found the incoming president unusually subdued: lowering expectations, acknowledging some of the messy realities of governing, and walking back some of the more provocative statements he had made only days before. A top adviser told us the sober tone reflects a bumpy few days inside Trump Tower — and the realization that he’s days away from truly running the nation.

And we all want to postpone his running the nation, because he doesn’t know what the bleep he is doing.

Trump said health care is his most urgent domestic topic, telling us he spoke with President Obama again on Monday about the topic. He back-tracked a bit from his promise of insurance for everybody, saying he wanted to find a mechanism — Medicaid block grants, perhaps — to help the poorest get insurance. “You know there are many people talking about many forms of health care where people with no money aren’t covered. We can’t have that,” he said.

Medicaid block grants? Medicaid block grants? 

But while we’re on the subject of health care, remember Tom Price? The guy nominated to head Health and Human Services whose health care plan I discussed this week? He’s getting ready to hand out those ponies

“One of the important things that we need to convey to the American people is that nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody,” Price said at a hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “We believe that it’s absolutely imperative that individuals that have health coverage be able to keep health coverage and move hopefully to greater choices and opportunities for them to gain the kind of coverage they want for themselves and for their families.”

I want a chestnut pony with a pretty gold mane.

Over the weekend, Trump told the Washington Post that he planned to unveil an Obamacare replacement plan after Price was confirmed that guaranteed “insurance for everybody.” That cut against the rhetoric that Republicans have used to explain their intentions, focusing on lower costs to ensure “access” to insurance, rather than universal coverage.

“I think there’s been a lot of talk about individuals losing health coverage. That is not our goal nor is it our desire nor is it our plan,” Price said at the hearing.

Later on in the hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) attempted to pin Price down on whether he shared the goal of “insurance for everybody,” pointing to the Obamacare repeal bills he introduced as a congressman.

“My role in Congress was to always make certain that individuals had the opportunity to gain access to the kind of coverage that they desired and that they had the financial feasibility to do so,” he said.

What the hell does that even mean — that individuals had the opportunity to gain access to the kind of coverage that they desired and that they had the financial feasibility to do so ? I’m interpreting this to mean “let them have tax credits.”

Back to Allen and VandeHei — in at least one way, Trump may be an improvement on, um, one other guy —

Trump seemed, dare we say, humbled by recent intelligence briefings on global threats. Dick Cheney’s friends used to tell us he was a decidedly darker, changed man once he started reading the daily intel reports after 9/11. Trump seemed moved by what he’s now seeing.

Dick the Dick didn’t read the daily intel reports until after 9/11? That explains a lot … But at least Dick had had previous real-world experience with international relations and wars and stuff. Trump has just been playing a businessman on teevee.

“I’ve had a lot of briefings that are very … I don’t want to say ‘scary,’ because I’ll solve the problems,” he said. “But … we have some big enemies out there in this country and we have some very big enemies — very big and, in some cases, strong enemies.”

He offered a reminder many critics hope he never forgets: “You also realize that you’ve got to get it right because a mistake would be very, very costly in so many different ways.”

But will he straighten up and start acting like an adults now? Don’t count on it …

In the opening moment, asked why he hasn’t been able to deliver on his promise to heal divisions in the U.S., Trump reiterated his promise “to be a president for all Americans,” only to launch, unprovoked, into his fourth-consecutive day of attacks on Rep. John Lewis, the civil-rights icon. Think about that for a minute: He’s less than 72 hours from taking office and he was still stewing about a member of the Democratic minority in the House.

Trump told us his confrontational style is misunderstood. “You know, I’m not really a divisive figure,” he said, before pinning the blame for bad press and bad blood almost entirely on the media: “In the history of politics, there’s nobody that has been treated worse by the press than I have.”

He’s a child. A big, spoiled, venal, idiot child. Or, as Charles Pierce puts it, “the president-elect is a mindless, vengeful carnivore who holds grudges the way mother koalas carry their babies.”

This is not a prediction, but let’s say I wouldn’t be surprised if he bails out in a year or two. Remember, he’s never actually had a job before. The demands of this one are going to be more than a shock.

Elsewhere — do read Charles Pierce on the Betsy DeVos hearing.

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