When you’re the President, and your party controls the House and the Senate by comfortable margins, and you still fail miserably trying to get your top legislative priority over the very first hurdle – let alone onto your desk for a signature – there’s certainly plenty of blame to go around.
But asked in the moments after news broke that, right before voting was to start, the American Health Care Act had been pulled – effectively sinking the legislation and handing him and his party about as embarrassing a political defeat as you’ll ever see – Trump had his sole scapegoat all cued-up:
The Democrats are to blame.
Nothing about Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, who, among other grave errors in judgement, rushed the vote on the bill to coincide with the anniversary of Obamacare’s enactment 7 years ago, just to score a cheap symbolic victory.
Nor was there any blame cast at Republican moderates, who stood against the AHCA because it went too far and would have hurt millions of Americans, including many of their own constituents who actually like Obamacare.
Nor was there any responsibility laid at the feet of Conservatives, who, led by the Freedom Caucus, with held their support for the AHCA because they thought the bill didn’t go far enough and kept Medicaid and other federally subsidized programs in place for too many people.
The President could have even done the honorable thing and taken some of the blame himself – something effective leaders often do. Trump certainly did the AHCA no favors by fanning the flames of the many scandals burning around him. Having to constantly address questions about those self-inflicted wounds (like falsely accusing President Obama for “wiretapping” Trump Tower) prevented him from leveraging the full weight of the White House like most Presidents would have done on legislation this important.
But the Democrats? We’re not sure how this fits. Maybe he’ll elaborate in the full forthcoming interview from the New York Times. But this unsubstantiated blame game shouldn’t be a surprise. The president has a long history of deflecting mistakes made in his personal life, his businesses, and in his short political career.
It’s important to note, however, that the rules adopted by House Republicans for the bill allowed no amendments to be considered during the hasty floor debate and vote. In fact, the Democrats were even blocked from seeing the bill for days.
Meanwhile, back in 2010, the Democrats adopted 161 amendments and other critical Republican-backed tweaks in a very long and transparent debate on the floor. They even scuttled their plan to have a public option as part of Obamacare – a huge piece of their agenda – just to appease the GOP.
It looks the like the President has once again made public statements that have no basis in fact – something else that should come as no surprise. As they say, “Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.”
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.