Saturday, January 21, 2017

Who You Gonna Fear and Loath?

What we have to fear is not Trump the Autocrat, but Trump the Beard.

This conversation that Bob Reich had with a former Republican congressman friend, reproduced below, casts light on where fear and loathing should fall, and it's not on Donald Trump. Yes, this blog has visited his boorishness and other unattractive personal characteristics, as have others TNTC (that's medical-speak for “too numerous to count,” as applied to white cells in a urine specimen that has been spun down and concentrated and looked at under a microscope, and is presumptive evidence of infection. “TNTC” was used, it should be noted, well before email and texting,when medical records were hand-written and succinct.) Yes, he shows signs of wanting to be an authoritarian, but he'll never make it, not in a hundred years. He doesn't have what it takes, and the country's institutions and political culture are too strong for that to happen. And yes to every other shortcoming everyone has noticed. But is he the real threat?

No, the real threat of Trump is as Trump The Beard. Here is Bob's post (I know him a little bit, hence the “Bob” moniker, just showing off....):

I had breakfast recently with a friend who's a former Republican member of Congress. Here's what he said:
Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.
Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?
Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.
Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?
Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.
Me: A while?
Him: They’ll get as much as they want – tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare – and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.
Me: And then what?
Him (laughing): They like Pence.
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.
Me: So what?
Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb – steps over the line – violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way … and you know he will ...
Me: They impeach him?
Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.

So, who is to be feared? The new Radical Republican Party, which replaced the old GOP several elections ago, and certainly bears little resemblance to the GOP of decades ago, is a fundamentalist party. There is a lot to argue with about how government currently acts – in that, Trump's disdain has some merit. There is a lot of swamp that could be drained. I won't go on to detail the shortcomings and borderline corruptions (and outright corruption) of government from both sides – read about Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac if you want to get sick to your stomach about Democrats. A lot of reform of government, now that's something tasty to reflect upon.

For all his bluster and ill will toward the many, I bet that the real burr under Donald's butt is the superior class who has captured government, those who hold Donald in low repute even though he has more money than most of them (we assume), and the rank mediocrity of so many governmental officials.

I can't help mentioning once again that the apotheosis of governmental inefficacy was the Obamacare website disaster. And then how Leon Panetta viewed it: “They relied on the bureaucracy for that? For something that important, you have to go around the government!” And that's a Democrat speaking. One had to ask, why wasn't the A Team involved from the beginning?

(That's unfair, too. The VA health care system is head in low repute, but I just read an article in JAMA that shows them to be cutting edge on how they are improving their system – they have the mechanism of improvement down pat.

But a reform of government by the Radical Republican Party is as chimerical as repeal and replace. The the Radical Republican Party is really the party of increasing privilege and blaming the victims. Trump has the banner in his hand and marches forward, while they use him as they can, then take over and defend the wasteland they have created.

But, personally, I think they are a doomed sect. There's only so much havoc they can wreak. (For “wreck” vs. “wreak,” see: And after that, they will scatter to their various infamies.

In health care, if they really wreck the ACA, the next step is, inevitably, single-payer. I love ironies in history! I gravitate to them, my mind seeks them out, they come to me I can't help it. Here's the deal:

The Democrats wanted to establish a health care program that made health care a right for all Americans. They built upon the already-jerry-built structure of Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, community heath clinics and Federally Qualified Health Clinics, Rural Health Centers, private health insurance, county clinics and hospitals, federal state and local support, etc. To get enough support for the ACA, they used a Republican structure, originally from the Heritage Foundation, then from RomneyCare in Massachusetts. The Democrats went Republican.

But then, that wasn't good enough for the Republicans! They had to have their say! So they repealed without being able to replace, wreaking havoc in the health care market, causing not only popular distress but institutional distress among hospitals, insurance companies, counties, providers, etc. And then with a new Democratic administration, one not tied to the old ways and with a huge surge of popular revulsion of the Radical Republicans, the people just said: Medicare for All. Thanks to the Republicans. You can't make this stuff up, you can just watch it unfolding.

So, if the Radical Republicans are wolves in a wolf's clothing, let them do what they will, and let them, like the sheep they are, be led over the cliff by a blind one, and may the blind ones at the head of the line be named Paul, Mitch, and Mike. We'll be cheering their precipitous demise.

Budd Shenkin

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