Hail the Clueless Yes Man

Trump is clueless on health care. He is not a detail man, but he knows how to make others believe he’s listening, and they walk away believing they have a “yes” from the president.

Whoever last spoke with with President Trump on health care believes they cannot lose. This is how the billionaire deals; it’s how he’s always dealt. He’s the King of “Yes.”

Sen. Rand Paul, who trashed Trump’s now-dead health care bill, told The Washington Examiner:

“We had a great day with the president. Played some golf, and we talked and we talked about a little bit of healthcare. I continue to be very optimistic that we are getting closer and closer to an agreement on repealing Obamacare,” Paul said.

And in an interview with the Financial Times, Trump said he’d work with Democrats to get a health care bill passed.

“If we don’t get what we want, we will make a deal with the Democrats and we will have — in my opinion — not as good a form of healthcare, but we are going to have a very good form of healthcare and it will be a bipartisan form of healthcare,” Trump said during the interview when asked if he would try to recruit Democrats to support future healthcare legislation.

(via The Hill)

The Venn diagram of health care options acceptable to both Sen. Paul and Democrats in Congress yields what they call in mathematics a null set. But that’s how the dealmaker works. You want to make a billion dollars on real estate (or vitamins, or vodka)? “Yes!” Always say “yes!” if it helps people feel good about a deal.

At the risk of not being invited to Mar a Lago, or getting White House press credentials, let me remind us of Trump’s dealmaking, using a blacklisted source–journalist Timothy O’Brien, who wrote a lawsuit-inducing book (TrumpNation) about Trump. The sad tale of Trump’s “Television City” in Manhattan, that he wanted to build from the West Side Yards, is in itself fascinating. O’Brien related it in a piece for Bloomberg.

Ultimately, Trump built nothing, and made a smaller profit than he should have after years of trying. Here’s how O’Brien concluded:

Had Trump kept control of the Yards, he could have vaulted into the top ranks of Manhattan builders. But that would have required him to effectively straddle the public and private sectors, to work with a diverse array of leaders and interests, to stay focused, to demonstrate financial discipline, and to get things done — in other words, to be a great dealmaker.

Trump is clueless on health care. He is not a detail man, but he knows how to make others believe he’s listening, and they walk away believing they have a “yes” from the president.

We might hear next that Trump likes F. H. Buckley’s opinion in the New York Post recommending single-payer (Canadian style) health care, which would both destroy the GOP and the budget at the same time. But Democrats would love it.

Back to the Financial Times:

“Well I will get the Democrats if I go the second way. The second way, which I hate to see, then the Freedom Caucus loses so big and I hate to see that, because … our plan is going to be a very good plan. When I say our plan, not phase one just: phase one, two and three added up is a great plan …” said Trump.

I believe that Steve Bannon has a political agenda, and a vision of how health care should run. I believe Paul Ryan has a political agenda, and a vision of how health care should run. I believe that Trump’s lean White House staff and advisors have vision and ideas. But I don’t believe Trump has a political agenda beyond being in the headlines day after day, and getting to “yes” whether the blasted thing gets built or not.

In this tableau, there will be no repeal of Obamacare. Not unless Congress shoves a bill on Trump’s desk that he simply cannot veto. To do that, the deals must be made without the White House’s involvement. A Republican president who threatens to work with Democrats can’t be counted on to make a deal on repealing Obamacare when he’s already thrown the conservative House Freedom Caucus under the bus for opposing a bill that Rand Paul also opposed (and didn’t repeal Obamacare).

How can Trump continue to blast the HFC, Heritage, and other conservative think tanks, while giving Paul a reason to be optimistic? The same way he kept promising to build “Television City” in Manhattan while blasting Mayor Ed Koch. It never happened, and Trumpcare will never happen unless someone else does it and lets Trump put his name on it (like the Hong Kong investors who built Riverside South at the West Side Yards did).

A president with a vision completely contained in a slogan “Make America Great Again,” with absolutely no depth beneath the words unless others do the yeoman’s work can afford to hand out yesses like other politicians kiss babies. But in the real world, deals have to happen, elections have consequences, and a yes man without a mandate can’t get anything done.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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