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TrumpCare: Once again a loser?

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I put a question mark in my headline because, as I write this post on Sunday evening for publication Monday, we still didn’t know if Graham-Cassidy will pass. Things change so quickly that, for all I know, by Monday morning as you read this, Lindsay Graham may be denouncing his own bill. But right now, it looks like TrumpCare is, once again, dead.

Opponent need one more Republican defection. I watched the much-anticipated interview with Sen. Collins on Face the Nation Sunday morning, but she remained as coy as ever, saying she’s still waiting for a CBO analysis. But given Collins’ list of concerns about the bill, she seems likely to vote against it—thus killing TrumpCare 2.0.

All of which makes reading last Friday’s column in the Wall Street Journal by the rightwinger, Kimberley Strassel, so amusing. Strassel, an unwavering champion of Trump and strident antagonist to Democrats, got so much wrong in her op-ed piece that she ought to publish a Mea Culpa—not that she will, because it’s not her style. First of all, she said that the fate of Graham-Cassidy was “in the hands of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.” That was, of course, before John McCain famously repeated his previous thumbs-down and announced he’s resolutely against the bill.

So what did Strassel say about McCain? He “seems unlikely to repeat his performance and sandbag his BFF, Mr. Graham.”

Wow. If that’s the kind of political prognostication that passes muster these days at the Wall Street Journal, that paper is in deep doo doo. Sen. McCain did indeed “repeat his performance,” although both he and his Best Friend Forever, Sen. Graham, vowed that their bromance continues.

So Strassel got that wrong, bigtime. What else did she have to say? She blamed the attacks on Graham-Cassidy—which have ranged from the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society to all fifty State Medicaid directors—not on the bill’s substance, but on—guess who?—“the media and liberal analysts”!!! Isn’t that the typical Republican playbook? When you’re caught in a lie, blame Democrats! Then she wades further into the fever swamp by a faux-analysis of Murkowski’s political considerations. Well, none of that matters anymore, because Lisa Murkowski doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all about Susan Collins.

I know the State of Maine. Lived there, have a ton of friends there. And believe me, Mainers are flooding Susan Collins’s inbox with “Vote No on Graham-Cassidy.” Mainers are independent—just take a look at Angus King, Collins’ counterpart in the Senate. But they’re also fair-minded, with a flinty sense of justice. They behave according to a strict ethical code that includes hard work and respect for your neighbor, and they know when something is fundamentally wrong. And they’re seeing that, in spades, from this administration and its maniacal supporters, like Strassel. Maine is a white state, but they repudiate white supremacism of the kind that Rupert Murdoch’s media routinely support. People tend of think of Maine as a Republican state, but more people (31.5%) are registered as Democrats than as Republicans (27%), the remainder being scattered among various independent groups.

So Susan Collins’ opposition to Graham-Cassidy, and indeed to any bill that would throw tens of millions of people off healthcare, and virtually destroy Medicaid, is based on the ardent beliefs of her constituents.

When you think about it, Kimberley Strassel’s embarrassing misreading of the politics of healthcare is matched only by Donald Trump’s strategic mishandling of his own political health. This war against the NFL, and against pro sports in general, is one he cannot and will not win. #TakingTheKnee, as I write, is the number-one trending topic on Twitter. And, as we saw all day Sunday, more and more NFL players (and owners) are refusing to stand during the anthem, or are raising fists, or simply linking arms; and it’s not only football: here in Oakland, our beloved Warriors, including Steph Curry, were just disinvited to the White House to celebrate the NBA Championship. As their great Coach Steve Kerr observed, “He [Trump] was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.” This is no longer about the flag, or the national anthem: This is about Trump. These professional athletes are personally repudiating him.

Factor in the Jimmy Kimmel effect, and it’s clear that Trump’s coalition, already fraying seriously at the edges, is starting to come unglued, as even conservative Republicans see his mental derangement. Hashtag #BeginningOfTheEnd.

  1. I’m a Maine resident, and have been so for 17 years. I didn’t vote for Susan Collins, and possibly have never voted for a Republican in my life. But I’ve grown to respect Collins, and her sense of fairness. So I hope (and believe) that she will vote no.

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