Good Friday Morning! This is the second road issue of the Outsider Perspective. I wrote two weeks ago from Phoenix Arizona, last week I was in Florida, and this week I write from Louisville, Kentucky. Lawyer work kept me from writing this past week, but I’m back this week to cover more life under President Donald Trump (still a surreal thing to say).
Like most weeks, the question this week is: what is the most important story in the news? Or rather, what news is just meaningless white noise? First, ignore all palace intrigue stories. The Jeff Sessions stories are marginally more interesting because Trump spoke about Sessions, but these are nothing more than speculative palace intrigue.
Second, ignore the transgender/military storyline. What Trump did was issue an executive order. If this topic mattered to either party, you’d see legislation on it. As it is, the executive order likely lasts only as long as Trump is in office.
Here’s what mattered: The Senate opened debate on the Obamacare replacement legislation – which is where I’ll begin.
The Senate Politics of Obamacare Replacement – A bunch of head fakes leading up to a primary vote
In general, I have the same reservations now that I did when I wrote: “Republicans at the Rubicon.” Whatever the Senate health care bill looks like in the end, I know it won’t be a repeal because repeal is impossible. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t maintain concerns that we’re heading towards single-payer/universal care.
All of those concerns aside, keep these quick points in mind when watching news on the Senate debate
- Sen. Mitch McConnell will setup many strategic votes to placate different segments of the GOP base. Everyone will know these votes will fail – but Senators can claim they had their voice heard and “forced” their leadership to compromise on something. It’s all a show.
- Full repeal is impossible. Full stop. To repeal Obamacare altogether, you have to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and House. That’s just the nature of things right now. Republicans know this – and the right-wing media knows it too.
- If you want full repeal, you have to have Democrats voting for repeal (to beat the filibuster). Notice in the conservative media, all the attention is on attacking GOP Senators and Representatives – no attention is directed at Democrats. If they wanted full repeal, they’d put pressure on Democrats to vote for repeal. No one in the right wing media has put any pressure on Democrats, they’ve only attacked Republicans.
- The real question is whether the Senate bill will go to the House for a vote, or if the Senate and House will go to conference. The details are technical, but I’d expect McConnell and Ryan to aim for a conference to shield their members from multiple votes.
These are the political rules of the game right now. Republicans have a slim majority in both the House and Senate. They don’t have the bipartisan votes necessary to repeal Obamacare; they can only amend it. All the “for-show” votes McConnell is churning out are meant to placate the various wings of the party.
What I anticipate happening is that McConnell will push through a series of votes and amendments he knows will fail. Those failures will be sideshows as the back door negotiating churns out the real bill. The real question isn’t about whether Senators like Rand Paul will vote for it – he will. It’ll be about whether Sens. Mike Lee, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski will vote for it.
The difficulty McConnell faces is from the middle of his caucus, not the right. All the “for-show” votes are for the right wing hardliners. The quiet negotiations are about winning over centrists and moderates.
As the House vote, we’re probably in for multiple failures before we get to the final legislation that passes. And in the end, Vice President Mike Pence probably has to break a tie to force the bill through.
Remember, Donald Trump and the GOP need a win on health care. They need the budgetary savings from health care reform to help pay for the tax code changes they want to pass. The goal isn’t perfect policy – it’s to get a win ultimately. I expect them to accomplish that narrow goal.
“What Happened” the new Hilary Clinton memoir
Hilary Clinton has a new memoir coming out in September called “What Happened.”
I am not joking – I couldn’t believe the title when someone told me. From NBC News:
In “What Happened,” the former senator, first lady and secretary of state dives into mistakes she made along the campaign trail and the “devastating” and unexpected loss to President Donald Trump, according to a press release.
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net,” Clinton writes in the books opening, “Now I’m letting my guard down.”
According to a press release from her publisher, Simon & Schuster, “she speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.”
Part of me was shocked she’d write a book solely on the election, and the other part of me isn’t shocked at all. The big question I’ll have from the book is this: Does Clinton take any blame for her loss? In other words, is this book solely about placing blame on other people and actors for her loss, or does she recognize her weaknesses?
I suspect this book will be a “blame game” tour. She’ll blame everyone and anything for why she lost other than herself. If that is the case, it only bolsters the campaign stories from the book “Shattered: Inside Hilary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” as John Podhoretz wrote back in April:
It is true that, but for 100,000 votes in three states, Hillary Clinton would be president today. It is also true that she ended the election with 3 million more votes than Trump. But it is also true, as “Shattered” makes indisputably clear, that she was unquestionably the worst major presidential candidate in our lifetime.
Others (like Bob Dole) did far worse. But they likely never really had a shot. Hillary had no business losing an election to Donald Trump — but Allen and Parnes pile up headshaking detail after headshaking detail from the very beginning of her campaign to its end showing that she and her people were incapable of making a good call.
A book like this, placing blame on others, also has a second important question attached to it: why write it? Does Clinton plan on running again? Is she making the case that the 2016 election is illegitimate?
It’s an odd title, an unusual subject matter, and a different direction to take for Clinton. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s running again and this book is an attempt to set the framework for her run. She has to convince Democrats to give her another chance. One way of doing that is arguing she didn’t get a fair shot in 2016 and deserves one in 2020.
For all the vitriol Trump receives on relitigating the 2016 election, Clinton is going to do the same thing with this book. If it’s a blame game tour, it only strengthens the case that “Shattered” is the actual tale of the election, including fallout from that book, not the Clinton story.
One thing is for certain, Trump and Clinton will end up in a Twitter spat over this book.
Must read links from the past week
For Conservatives, Health Care Reform Is Not Optional – Avik Roy, National Review Online
Don’t Believe in God? Maybe You’ll Try U.F.O.s – Clay Routledge, The New York Times
New York’s crackdown on dog-walking licenses is only hurting low-income workers – Patrice Lee Onwuka, The Washington Examiner
BDS, Hypocrisy, and Our Barren Public Sphere – Noah Daponte-Smith, National Review Online
Is there a coming constitutional crisis? – Eric Posner
Satire piece of the week
Social Justice Warrior Dislocates Shoulder Trying To Pat Self On Back – The Babylon Bee
NEW YORK, NY—Local progressive and self-described “brave social justice advocate” Brian Dyer often pats himself on the back after winning an online argument with “backward conservative bigots.”
But on Friday, Dyer may have gone too far, as he shot his hand down his back and began patting with such vigor that he dislocated his shoulder entirely.
“I guess I got a little carried away this time,” he told the team that responded to his tweets for help. “I often strain my muscles while giving myself a round of applause or patting myself on the back. This time though, I was particularly pleased with myself for my superior virtue signaling, and my arm moved violently to pat my back just as a natural reflex.”
One medical professional said that over 40,000 progressive activists are taken to the hospital with dislocated shoulders that occurred in an attempt to pat themselves on the back in a moment of smug superiority each year.
Thanks for reading!