The beauty of the blame game is that it allows all sides to put off moving on to anything constructive, while feeling rather holy about pointing a finger at others. Congress has refined the blame game to an art on both sides of the aisle, one major reason Americans give it an approval rating wallowing in the teens.
Many voters do not seem to blame Trump. Still, stand by for more days of this game following the initial demise of the Republican ObamaCare repeal at the hands of, yup, Republicans.
The so-called Freedom Caucus, political descendants of the grassroots Tea Party spawned in 2010 to repeal ObamaCare, was the culprit this time. Its members claimed to be in favor of repeal, just not this repeal. See how well that sells in 84 weeks in the 2018 midterms.
Delighted Democrats, who created this ObamaCare mess in the first place by ramming a faulty plan through Congress unread with zero votes from GOP members, pointed fingers at flailing Republicans pointing fingers at each other.
For a tweeting moment, even President Trump pointed a finger at Freedom Caucus members, who’ve shown staunch support for standing on principle, but not a whole lot for actually getting anything done. Then, surprisingly quickly, Trump moved on to government innovation and reorganization, expected in an announcement today, and then comes tax reform.
Now, you’d think Republicans could agree on reducing taxes. But the desire to form a circle and start shooting at each other is strong in this crowd.
Moving past the repeal of an ObamaCare repeal won’t be that easy, thanks to Washington’s watchdog media, newly-awakened after eight years of slumber. Media stories require conflict. And there’s no better conflict for that crowd than Republican infighting replete with anonymous snipes, some of which may be true.
Count on it, every time Speaker Ryan or Trump or Vice President Pence speak in public for the foreseeable future, someone will demand to know who is to blame for the repeal sinking. It’s a legitimate question for a day or so, though this will likely go on all week, ignoring any attempted new narratives.
The real question is, do Republicans, especially the president and the now-embattled Freedom folks, have the self-confidence and communications discipline to resist creating a self-destructive distraction and biting at the bait. It’s tempting: ‘Mr. President, some sources say you lacked leadership in the repeal effort and could have done much more to prevent that disastrous first defeat. What’s your reaction?’
Trump might say:
“Who said that? What’s their name? This I will tell you, I don’t hide my views behind anonymity. So, I’m not going to argue with your hypothetical source. As we have since Jan. 20, we’re moving on now to fulfill yet another important campaign promise, to reduce the size of government and drive efficiencies down into every level to save taxpayer money and cut waste. And after that, we’re going to create jobs jobs jobs with important tax reforms for the American people. Thank you.”
Trump might say that.