Three-Dot Tuesday

[ Posted Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 – 16:51 UTC ]

I haven't done one of these three-dot columns in a while (as always, in homage to the late, great columnist Herb Caen), but the flood of news tidbits flowing from the White House is relentless, so I thought it was time to catch up on some of the fresh idiocy coming from the Oval Office.

Donald Trump, so far, is having a very bad week. And it's only Tuesday! Trump has already had numerous bad weeks during his presidency, which is remarkable since there really haven't been all that many weeks of it to date. But he seems determined to set even new lows this week, so let's take a quick look at what he's been up to.


Trump kicked off the weekend with a "100 days" rally in Pennsylvania. We turn to former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson for a review of this speech:

Trump used his high office to pursue divisive grudges (Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is a "bad leader"), to attack the media (composed of "incompetent, dishonest people") and to savage congressional Democrats ("they don't mind drugs pouring in"). Most of all, Trump used his bully pulpit quite literally, devoting about half his speech to the dehumanization of migrants and refugees as criminals, infiltrators and terrorists. Trump gained a kind of perverse energy from the rolling waves of hatred, culminating in the reading of racist song lyrics comparing his targets to vermin. It was a speech with all the logic, elevation and public purpose of a stink bomb.

Hoo boy. And that's from a fellow Republican, mind you...


...Trump held this rally because he didn't want to get made fun of at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. As the keynote speaker pointed out, Trump wasn't there because he couldn't take a joke. And what does he get for his efforts? Gerson calling his speech a "stink bomb"...


...Trump then returned to Washington to find out a deal had been struck on the continuing resolution which will keep the government funded for the rest of this fiscal year. At first, he referred to this deal in a speech by saying "this is what winning looks like," but that was before he heard the backlash from conservatives, who were pretty miffed that Trump had gotten rolled so badly by Democrats in the deal. None of the poison-pill agenda items that Trump and Paul Ryan had been salivating over made it into the final cut. Trump got some money for the Pentagon and for border security, but virtually nothing else he wanted (including border wall money). The Democrats didn't get everything on their wish list, but they did get a lot that they wanted, including increased domestic spending and barring Jeff Sessions from wasting money going after state-legal medical marijuana operations. All in all, I'd say it was about an 80-20 victory for the Democrats...


...which is why: "Soon after the deal was reached last night, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi quickly put out celebratory statements. But [Mitch] McConnell and Paul Ryan did not." Which led to...


...Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, publicly whining about the unseemliness of the Democrats' crowing:

The Dems have been trying to claim victory on this, which I think is a very strange way to look at a bipartisan discussion. If you're in a bipartisan meeting, I think it is very unusual for one group to walk out and start spiking the football and say, "We won, we killed the other guys." It certainly doesn’t bode very well for future discussions.

. . .

I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try and spike the football to make him look bad. I get that frustration because I think it's a terrible posture for the Democrats to take.

Um, right. Boo-freakin'-hoo. Because we all know that Donald Trump would never ever "spike the football" about anything. Even though he said it was "what winning looks like" on the same day. And even though he had just given a speech which was used to "pursue divisive grudges," "savage congressional Democrats," and for the "dehumanization of migrants and refugees." Yeah, that guy would never in a million years consider "spiking the football" for a political win. And if you believe that, I've got some Florida swampland to sell you...


...although it did at least teach Donald Trump an important lesson about Congress -- one every schoolchild in the country already knew, of course. Unlike whipping an adoring crowd into a frenzy, getting stuff done in Washington is just hard. This morning, Trump petulantly tweeted about the conservative backlash over the deal:

The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We....

either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good "shutdown" in September to fix mess!

Sooner or later, someone will explain to him that there simply is no such thing as a "good shutdown"...


...Trump also vented about Congress to Fox News recently, saying:

You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House -- but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through -- it's really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. They're archaic rules. And maybe at some point we're going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.

You can't go through a process like this. It's not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you're really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.

At this point, though, even that probably wouldn't help much, given the amount of disunity in the Republican Party right now. I mean, they can't even get anything out of the House, much less the Senate...


...which brings us to the ongoing trainwreck known as the Republican "repeal and replace Obamacare" effort. Or maybe it needs a snappier name? I've been using "Ryancare" myself, since Paul Ryan was originally the principal architect, but maybe it's time to consider branding it with the president's name. No, not that name -- his first name. Let's name it for Donald T... or just plain: "DonTcare." Because, at this point, that is the most accurate label I can think of...


...but I digress. Last week, DonTcare was being pushed by the White House, in the hopes of at least getting it through the House before the 100th day of Trump's misrule. That effort went nowhere. A new draft of the bill emerged (not publicly, yet, but behind the scenes in House Republican offices), which was downright astonishing. The first draft (Ryancare) was only supported by 17 percent of the public, because it was so awful. So to gain the necessary votes, they decided to make it even more awful. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

One of the things they decided to make more awful was to remove the guarantee for people with pre-existing conditions to have affordable access to health insurance. Because 17 percent approval was just way too high, apparently.

But even the more-awful nature of DonTcare wasn't enough. It still doesn't have the votes, which is why Paul Ryan hasn't scheduled a vote for it yet. But at least they had a finished draft...


...which they apparently didn't tell Trump about. In an astonishing interview with CBS (especially the way it abruptly ended), Trump threw some word salad into the air when asked about the "pre-existing condition folks will get screwed" aspect of the bill.

This bill has evolved... Preexisting conditions are in the bill -- and I mandate it. I said, "Has to be."... [It has] a clause that guarantees protection for those with pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing is going to be in there, and we're also going to create pools, and pools are going to take care of the pre-existing.

Trump is known for using a sort of shorthand to describe things, but "the pre-existing" is a new level of noun-ization, I have to admit. In one interview, Trump proved that: (1) he has no idea what the status of the bill currently is (he repeatedly insisted that the bill was still being negotiated, when that actually finished last week), and (2) he has no idea what is actually in the bill, because he really doesn't care one way or the other. Which is why DonTcare is such an apt name. He's setting himself up for a huge embarrassment, because now even if they could pass the DonTcare bill in the House, the media would immediately point out that it does not live up to Trump's own standard. So Trump may have torpedoed DonTcare singlehandedly...


...which is why it isn't too surprising to read that GOP House members are sick and tired of the entire dishonest process. They aren't serious about reforming healthcare, they are in essence just trying to pass a giant tax cut for the wealthy. And it wasn't supposed to be this hard. But now they've been reduced to nothing short of political flimflammery, as the Washington Post helpfully points out:

The aim has become very simple for House Republicans stumbling closer to passing a bill to revise the Affordable Care Act: just get it off their plates and over to the Senate.

In the messy effort to rally their often unruly party around a measure to replace big parts of President Barack Obama's health-care law, House leaders have been forced to leave other objectives by the wayside and focus on one simple, political goal: pass a bill they can say repeals Obamacare -- even if it has no hope of survival in the Senate -- to shield their members in next year's elections.

Republican Representative Peter King even bluntly admitted: "I would hope it gets changed over there," which isn't exactly a rousing vote of confidence in the House bill...


...but what really took the cake this week was Trump's musing on the cause of the Civil War. No, really. Because apparently he didn't watch that episode of The Simpsons where Apu became a U.S. citizen ("Slavery it is!"). Here's what Trump had to say, while heaping praise on Andrew Jackson (and calling him a "swashbuckler"):

I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, "There's no reason for this." People don't realize, you know, the Civil War -- if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

I don't know... maybe ask Apu to explain it? And maybe to explain that Jackson died 16 years before the war started? I mean, even Sarah Palin probably cringed when she heard that one...


...this did, however, lead to a hilarious article ridiculing Trump's lack of knowledge, written as a spoof of a Ken Burns documentary. As well as an absolute gold mine of material for late-night comics...


...which leads us to our final item -- a tweet from Amanda Carpenter, a "former Ted Cruz advisor." Liberals will enjoy basking in this particular tidbit of schadenfreude, that's for sure:

WH in chaos. Congress not passing bills. Fox News imploding. Heritage in shatters. Are we having fun yet? When does it get good???

Hopefully, not any time soon.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


8 Comments on “Three-Dot Tuesday”

  1. [1] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Love naming the Republican insurance scam "DonTcare!" It truly fits better than anything else I've heard it called.

  2. [2] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    DonTcare is brilliant... one of those things that you wonder how nobody had come up with earlier.

    I would venture a guess that it will be widely adopted.

    After Trump's Civil War bit, somebody should definitely ask him about the Revolutionary War and Vietnam... and maybe Star Wars.

    My apologies to Disney... but the animated classic 101 Dehumanizations speech seems a little spotty... an attempt to toss a few bones to the alt-right who are barking up a storm... and put a leash on the dissatisfaction.
    I happen to agree with the characterization of Schumer and the media... but for different reasons.


  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    that really was a funny article.


  4. [4] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    Maybe you and the gang won't find this as funny as I did

    After months of soul searching... she blames Comey and Putin... just like she did before the months of soul searching... and she's writing a book about the ordeal.

    And not unlike the ten indivisible Dem senators who voted with the Repubs to confirm another anti-regulation, pro-fraud Goldman gang member to run the SEC, Hillary touts her joining of the resistance!!! by supporting Trump's attack on Syria despite the lack of proof of culpability... and then lamenting that his intervention wasn't interventionist enough.


  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    so let's see if we've got these three dots straight

    . Donald can't take a joke.

    . Donald is still pushing dontcare.

    . Donald doesn't get why the civil war happened.

    is that about it?

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    'Bout them DonTCare pools:

    The Kaiser Foundation explains how health insurance pools are a real world example of "how to lengthen a scanty blanket."

    Step 1. Cut a swath from the top of the blanket you wish to lengthen.

    Step 2. Sew the swath to the bottom of the blanket.

    You can cut to the chase by just reading the last paragraph. High cost, high deductible insurance for some, no insurance for others who can't afford the premiums.

  7. [7] 
    neilm wrote:

    One for the ages CW. This is becoming an amazing piece of performance art - I mean, we are testing the boundaries on how stupid somebody can be and not know that most of the whole World is laughing at him. Normally this would be a sad little side show, but with the protagonist being in the White House, this is taking the art form to the highest level. This is Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel level!

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    As I pointed out in Friday's column, I didn't coin this term myself. But I do think it's the best way to brand it, for Democrats.

    From the president of the International Steelworkers Union, a close relative:

    nypoet22 [3] -

    Well, thank you for the kind words. I always wonder when doing these if it's so disjointed that it kind of falls apart for the reader, so your vote of confidence means a lot.


    altohone [4] -

    Also addressed in Friday's column. I will look for your response there...

    nypoet22 [5] -

    Yep, that's about it. Oh, and: Trump doesn't like filibusters.

    neilm [7] -

    Well, thank you also for the kind words. Maybe I should do these three-dot columns more often. I usually did them (previously) on Thursdays, as I see from the URL this is only the 3rd one on a Tuesday. Maybe it'd take the pressure off for all the stuff I have to cover on Fridays... worth a thought, especially with all the praise for this one!


    As for Trump, I cannot get the Emperor's New Clothes out of my mind, personally. That seems exactly the road we're travelling now...


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