The Ides of March came for Donald Trump on Friday, March 24. On that date everything ended for him. His charade of being a president, a strongman, a Mr. Fix-it – all of it crashed, along with all of his posing, posturing, lies, and his attempts at intimidating. It's all a heap of ashes and everyone can see that. The "winner" lost. The "closer" failed. He is so apparently a fraud no one can deny it. And he has lost all political power.
It was also the Ides of March for GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and for the entire Republican body in the House.
Yes! I mean that! The Republican party has indeed lost everything. And the irony is that, in melting like the Wicked Witch, the dying GOP has given American democracy the biggest boost imaginable. (I'll write about that tremendous gain next week.)
Let's note the full extent of what the GOP lost on Friday in the House.
First of all, Trump and the GOP didn't just lose the attempt to repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act. They also lost their credibility. The GOP had pledged for seven years to repeal Obama's handiwork. Then they couldn't do it. Trump too had boasted he would repeal it on his first day in office and additionally boasted that he could make a deal with any politican. He fell on his face, his credibility in tatters.
The loss of credility is a fatal loss in politics. Once you lose it, it's gone forever. Sure, everybody loses a vote sometimes. I once lost $85 million in the voting on a funding package due to an error by the committee's clerk. But in my 55 years in politics I never lost my credibility. Without credibility, a politician is a two-legged milking stool. Trump is now a toothless tiger and so are Ryan and his GOP pals in the House.
Next, Ryan and Trump also lost their only possible shot at the huge tax break for the rich they had planned, a trillion dollar tax cut to be delivered under the name of "tax reform". Such a large giveaway could only have been accomplished if the tax measure had qualified to go through the Senate with just a simple majority of votes and thus been insulated from a Democratic filibuster. For the measure to thus qualify for the so-called "reconciliation process", the GOP would have had to show that the lost tax revenues would be offset by savings elsewhere, i.e. from the cost-cutting in the Trump/Ryan non-care health bill.
In other words, the GOP leadership was willing to strip 24 million Americans of their health insurance and rob the Medicare trust fund of $365 billion just to give the rich a super-big tax cut. That is disgusting and sinful!
But now they can't do either! And let the heavens marvel at the irony of this: it was the mule-headed intransigence of the far-right Freedom Caucus that caused the crash-and-burn of the Ryan/Trump non-care health plan, the end of the huge tax cut, and the demolishing of the entire GOP House claim of power.
For that too is the clear result of Friday's debacle. The GOP doesn't have a working majority in the House of Representatives! The Freedom Caucus's intransigence not only defeated their own avowed goals of destroying Obamacare, cutting taxes, and diminishing government. It also assured that their future power as a bloc is gone. When they disabled the GOP control of the House they took away the very stage upon which they could have played. As things stand now the Freedom Caucus is hereafter an irrelevancy.
Let's look at other specific casualties of last Friday. Here's a biggie: the broad conservative wing of the GOP, including the Freedom Caucus and Paul Ryan, passionately hate the "entitlements", i.e. Social Security and Medicare. If the Trump/Ryan non-care health plan had passed, $365 billion
would have been stripped out of the Medicare trust fund by reducing the modest amount high-earners now pay into it as part of payroll taxes. Absent this $365 billion, Medicare would soon have been in deep trouble, and Ryan's announced plan of "changing it to save it" would have come to pass. He has claimed for years that Medicare is already in deep trouble. But it isn't! Nor is Social Security! Nor is Obamacare! They could use some tweeking, but are basically just fine. He lies about this issue so as to engineer their destruction. The raid on the Medicare trust fund would have sabotaged its soundness and flung wide the door to Ryan's demolition of it, taking away Medicare and giving the elderly mere pocket change towards medical expenses.
Now, however, the Freedom Caucus — those entitlement-hating GOP right-extremists, those Tea Party's darlings — have cut off the GOP's best hope of destroying Medicare. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! These guys cut off their own heads!
As all this unfolds in the understanding of the GOP politicos, the Freedom Caucus will become anathema! Exactly what they should be to everyone! They are the same GOP Congressional members who stood on an outside balcony of the Capitol in 2010 and shouted encouragement to their supporters spitting on the heroic Rep. John Lewis and hitting the other Democratic Congressmen with signs as they entered to vote for Obamacare.
That was a dark moment in American history. These extremists move in darkness. It has blinded them even unto their own best interests and announced goals. But he who lives by idiocy, perishes by it. In short, it's pay-back time!
These 30 members of the Republican House chose in their blindness on Friday to end the power of the entire GOP and their own power. By making it clear that the rest of the GOP cannot work with them, they have destroyed the GOP majority position. Their House majority is as meaningless as a cancelled stamp. No one in politics can take them — or the GOP or Speaker Ryan or Donald Trump — seriously ever again. It's not just because these folks managed to defeat repeal of Obamacare but because they demonstrated for everyone to see that they have no understanding of how to use power.
Those who don't understand how to use power lose it. And quickly. That's what destroyed Jimmy Carter's presidency. He was "an outsider", a reformer, a self-styled non-politician. His ignorance and ineptitude in politics ruined his four years and deprived him of a second term.
The ignorance and ineptitude of Trump, Ryan, and the Freedom Caucus have shown they can't use power. They are empty suits. Politically they are a joke.
Knowledgeable politicans now wash their hands of the GOP in the House and the White House. Increasingly the media won't take them seriously either. And in further due course, neither will their base.
So, guess what! Apparently the old saying is true. Apparently God does indeed take care of dogs, drunks, and the American people!
Next week: the unexpected blessings growing from the cursedness of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the far-far-right! ........ Will wonders never cease?