Friday, July 28, 2017

Congratulations, America

TrumpCare is dead!
Goldwater would never vilify ethnic minorities. unless, you know, in order to get votes.

With all respect—well, some respect, I'm only human—to Senator McCain for his agonizing decision to vote for once the way he thinks instead of the way Mitch McConnell wants him to (Steve M thinks only the specter of possibly approaching death could have gotten him to do the ethical thing—funny to imagine the old reprobate is the only actual Christian, fearing God and Judgment, in the whole GOP), and some more respect to Senators Murkowski and Collins for doing it on a more regular basis as if they really believe that's what Senators are supposed to do, I think the momentousness of McConnell's defeat on Skinny Trumpcare is getting a little exaggerated.

I mean, because it really was inevitable that Trumpcare would be defeated, as I'd been hoping. As has been widely pointed out, the floor managers could only get as many votes for it as they did by promising the Senators that it would never become law, and billing the vote as merely a necessary first step to convening a conference committee to effectively write yet another new bill, but by now we've seen the full range of what they can come up with in the way of repealing the Affordable Care Act (which precludes doing it with any Democratic votes and thus requires 50 Republican ones). There just aren't any approaches that can get enough Republicans to vote for it, because the party doesn't have a coherent position on health care, and can't, really, as long as it seeks to bring together the wealthy libertarian and the poor nativist. Whatever came out of the conference wasn't going to be any different.

McCain's vote should be regarded as a kind of mercy killing of a freakish creature that just was not viable, a two-headed calf with a blocked intestine.

I'd like to think David Brooks knew in advance how McCain was going to go, because today's column ("Jeff Flake Plants a Flag") seems very precisely designed to diminish the achievement and detach the question of senatorial honorability and anti-Trump resistance from the question of the health care bill by pointing at McCain's Arizona colleague, Senator Flake, who of course voted for it:

Some senators are passing the test of conscience — Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Mike Lee and John McCain. And to that list we can certainly add Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. In a few days he comes out with a book called “Conscience of a Conservative,” which is a thoughtful defense of traditional conservatism and a thorough assault on the way Donald Trump is betraying it.
As did Lindsey Graham, who was very clear about how he felt before he put down his Aye. ("The skinny bill as policy is a disaster," he said. "The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud.") Sasse and Lee voted for it too, but their objection to it was that it didn't kill enough people, where Collins and Graham thought it killed too many.

Flake's anti-Trumpery is because he's a True Remember-Barry-Goldwater Conservative—

“Is it conservative to praise dictators as ‘strong leaders,’ to speak fondly of countries that crush dissent and murder political opponents …? Is it conservative to demonize and vilify and mischaracterize religious and ethnic minorities …? Is it conservative to be an ethno-nationalist? Is it conservative to embrace as fact things that are demonstrably untrue?”
Plus he has a new book coming out, with a title (Conscience of a Conservative) apparently stolen from Goldwater himself, presumably in tribute, not larceny, and having coffee with Brooks is part of the book tour.

I guess Reagan praised Ferdinand Marcos, Zia ul-Haq, Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet and Alfredo Stroessner, and so on, enough to say if Reagan was a conservative the answer may be "yes". He also memorably spoke of welfare queens and "young bucks" in a way that might be thought to have demonized somebody...  Whether Barry Goldwater would have voted for Skinny Repeal I can't begin to tell you. Brooks doesn't mention health care once in the entire column. His mind is fixed on the eternal verities, like a scoop pre-publication quote from Jeff Flake's book.

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