In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Committee last summer, Donald Trump raised a few eyebrows when he declared, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
It’s become increasingly obvious that pretty much everyone knows the system better than Trump, and he alone can’t seem to fix much of anything. In fact, with the latest demise of the Republican health care campaign, the president is already making the case that that buck doesn’t stop anywhere near him. He declared via Twitter this morning:
“With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday! We will have the votes for Healthcare but not for the reconciliation deadline of Friday, after which we need 60. Get rid of Filibuster Rule!”
As Simon Maloy joked this morning, we’ve “come a long way” since “I alone can fix it.”
Part of the problem with Trump’s pitch is that it’s factually wrong. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) had a medical issue this week, but he’s not in the hospital. What’s more, the “filibuster rule” – I’ll never know why the president likes to capitalize random words he finds interesting – isn’t the principal problem for Republicans, at least not on this issue.
According to the White House’s legislative affairs director, the party this week was four votes short on health care. If my arithmetic is correct, whether the threshold for success is 50 votes or 60 votes doesn’t much matter if there were only 48 Senate Republicans ready to move forward on the Graham-Cassidy plan.
But the underlying problem is Trump’s refusal to accept responsibility for his own failures.
To be sure, if we’re making a list of people responsible for the latest Republican health care fiasco, it would feature more than a few names, but the president would certainly make the cut. He’s the one who said he was a master deal-maker. He’s the one who said he could twist arms, apply pressure, and deliver.
He’s the one who said he “alone” can “fix” things.
And so, when it comes time for an after-action report, and Trump is taking stock of what went wrong, he’s eager to point the finger, quickly and vigorously, at just about everyone. Blame the “so-called Republicans.” Blame Thad Cochran’s health issue. Blame the filibuster rules.
In the president’s mind, the man in the mirror always seems to be exempt.