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Friday, October 06, 2017


The Nobama strategy

by Tom Sullivan

For many Republicans in Congress, their antipathy for President Obama's legacy is strategic, their politics zero-sum. They decided the night of his inauguration to fight every Obama policy. If he was for it, they were against it. For the sitting president, it is personal:

For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application.

Trump’s message was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no.
Other states trying to find ways to prop up their insurance markets and save the taxpayers money have been similarly rebuffed, according to the Washington Post report. The Health and Human Services Department has slashed funds to support new applicants and cut the enrollment period in half. Oh, and provided less funds for advertising and scheduled more down-time for the website.

HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd said in an email last week, “Obamacare has never lived up to enrollment expectations despite the previous administration’s best efforts.” Whether or not that is true, the current administration is not lifting a finger to make it easier to enroll.

It is part of a pattern with the legacy of the previous administration. He objects vehemently to the Iran nuclear agreement and threatens now to decertify it. Other UN leaders have tried to dissuade him to no avail, leaving them distrusting the U.S. as a negotiating partner. In his mind, the agreement is an “embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated,” although he shows little sign of knowing (or caring) what is in it.

Sometimes it is enough for the sitting president to get a symbolic win against his predecessor. Nancy LeTourneau at Political Animal writes:
Two months ago, Congress passed a bill that imposed new sanctions on Iran, as well as Russia and North Korea. As of yet, the administration has taken no steps to implement them. If Trump’s objection to the Iran agreement had anything to do with a policy that embraced the use of sanctions against that country, why has he failed to impose those that Congress has already approved?

At this point, it is impossible to put together a rationale for Trump’s behavior on this issue other than that he simply wants to do whatever he can to destroy this legacy achievement of the Obama administration.
She concludes:
Remember how often Trump critiqued the Bush administration for lying us into the war in Iraq (even though he supported it at the time)? The president is now engaged in an overt strategy that, at minimum, will destabilize the Middle East, isolate us from our allies, and ensure that no country will trust our diplomatic efforts. At worst, it could lead to a military confrontation with Iran. Since he has given us no rationale for why he is doing that, it is clear that Trump is willing to risk it all in order to negate Obama’s legacy. That is the smallness of the man who currently occupies the White House.
I would be remiss not to point to a post from Michelle Goldberg, the new columnist this week at the New York Times. Noting how the sitting president displayed "flagrant incompetence" in relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Goldberg describes him as "a nasty showbiz huckster whose own staffers speak of him as if he were a malevolent toddler."

In the tradition of the Republican leaders who vowed to make Obama a one-term president, he must break what he cannot build or improve.

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Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.