In 2013, Donald Trump tweeted the following:
Leadership: Whatever happens, you're responsible. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2013
I agree with what he said wholeheartedly, and he's right. Leadership is all about owning something when it goes right and especially when it goes wrong.
Ever since President Barack Obama signed Obamacare, Republicans promised to repeal it. Everybody knew repeal was not an option as long Obama was president, so when Trump shocked the nation by defeating Hillary Clinton, Republicans and conservatives held out some hope it would happen.
If the events of the last several months are any indication, Obamacare is not going away anytime soon. Most officeholders will tell you being the minority in Washington D.C. is much easier than being in the majority.
When the GOP controlled only the House between 2011 and 2014, it was easy for them to say how they'd run the country so much better if only they had more control than just one chamber of Congress. In 2015, the GOP took over control of the Senate too, and said, "If only we had the White House we could run the country so much better than Democrats."
Republicans have their chance. Unfortunately, they can't get on the same page and Democrats are laughing at the spectacle before them.
Not surprisingly, Trump supporters are directing their ire at Congress instead of at President Trump, where the bulk of that criticism belongs. Granted, Congress is not immune from criticism, but Trump is the leader of the GOP, whether he likes it or not. He sold himself to the public as the dealmaker who could get everybody in a room and walk out with the deal containing what he wanted. In early 2016 he said if elected, "We will immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare - and nobody can do that like me."
It's somewhat amusing now to watch Trump's core supporters yelling about Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell being to blame for the debacle unfolding before our eyes. It makes little sense because the warning signs flashed brightly during the campaign in two distinct areas.
First, candidate Trump made promises about reforming healthcare that the media and Democrats are holding against him now, and rightly so. He promised he wouldn't touch entitlements (i.e. Medicaid), people wouldn't pay more and "everybody" will have coverage. Did the president think the press would forget what he said on the campaign trail?
Second, Trump cannot adequately explain what it is that he wants in a healthcare bill. He's content to throw adjectives out such as "beautiful," "great," and "wonderful." But he cannot articulate any details or discuss the issue publicly with any degree of specificity. Supporters argue it doesn't matter because he'll sign whatever bill hits his desk, but that's absurd. He should know what he's trying to sell. It doesn't require him to know every detail, but he should have the capability to go before the public and explain in broad strokes what the legislation will do.
Finally, the president needs to stop sending mixed messages. He has a habit of speaking about issues differently depending on the audience. He put pressure on Paul Ryan and Republicans in the House to pass the publicly-unpopular American Health Care Act. When it happened, the president held a Rose Garden celebration as if he signed a new law. About 30 days later in Iowa, Trump trashed the same bill, calling it "mean" and saying he wanted a bill with more "heart" and more money.
Trump doesn't have room to pass the buck. He bragged about his ability to make deals, and he promised that nobody else but him could get Obamacare repealed and replaced. The onus is on him to get Republicans (forget about Democrats) to the table and get them all to agree.
Trump said he could make it happen. It's time for him to get to work.
Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the assistant managing editor at RedState, as well as a contributor to National Review and The Atlantic.
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