Politics & Policy

A mulligan on health care, &c.

Trump and Ryan meet following Trump’s election win, November 10, 2016. (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)
Politics 101, a Supreme Court nominee, dangerously fake news, and more

Years ago, the Senior Tour was described as “life’s mulligan.” I’m talking about golf. A mulligan, of course, is a do-over — an extra shot.

When it comes to health-care reform, I hope the Republicans will take a mulligan. And I hope they will hit the ball straight and true.

Something as mighty as health-care reform — the repeal and replacement of Obamacare — takes persuasion. You have to go out and tell people why your plan is better for them. You have to campaign for it. Convince.

My impression is that Republican players thought, “We have the White House and both chambers of Congress. We can just go ahead and do it.” But no.

Especially helpful would be presidential leadership. It takes the president to go out and say, “Here’s why our way is the better way.” It’s not enough to say, “Our plan is great! Terrific! You’re gonna love it! Trust me!” The public needs more, especially when it comes to something so important and sensitive as health care.

Did President Trump understand the plan well enough to explain it, defend it, and campaign for it?

FDR had his fireside chats. Reagan had his constant TV addresses and radio talks, in which he explained what he was trying to do. He brought people along with him.

And that included congressmen, who are always attuned to the thoughts, moods, and desires of their districts.

Americans may not like Obamacare, but they would probably rather have the devil they know than something they don’t know. You’ve got to talk to people. This is elementary. This is politics.

‐Let me quote from an Associated Press report. And “Priebus,” as you know, is Reince Priebus, President Trump’s chief of staff.

Priebus scolded conservative Republicans, explaining that Trump had felt “disappointed” that a “number of people he thought were loyal to him weren’t.”

The U.S. government is not the mafia. Congressmen are their own men, their own women, elected in their own right, responsible for the carrying out of their offices.

‐You remember how we mocked Nancy Pelosi for saying, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” (Actually, we always leave off the last words of her sentence. That sentence went, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.”) Well, a GOP congressman, Chris Collins of New York, had a similar statement.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what it is we’re doing and once we get it done and then we can have the chance to really explain it.”

It’s hard to be in public life, and talk constantly, on the record, and have everything come out just right. I think we tend to be indulgent of our own side’s mistakes and infelicities — and go to town on the other side’s.

‐After the debacle on the Hill, President Trump tweeted, “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”

I don’t really trust politicians who talk about “the people” — and especially “THE PEOPLE.” What outrages and horrors have occurred in the name of the people! In fact, that’s Marine Le Pen’s slogan in France: “Au nom du peuple,” “In the name of the people.”

They hollered about “the people” in 1789, 1917 … Think of “people’s republics,” and “people’s commissars,” and “the people’s court.”

Oh, sorry, that was Wapner …

‐I wish to quote a paragraph about Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court nominee. It comes from this report.

Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, refused repeated attempts to get him to talk about key legal and political issues of the day. But he did tell Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who worried that Gorsuch would vote to restrict abortion, that “no one is looking to return us to horse and buggy days.”

That’s a curious sentence: “No one is looking to return us to horse-and-buggy days.” Is he talking about the days pre-Roe?

‐You hear a lot about “fake news,” especially from President Trump, his staff, and his fans. If you don’t like something you hear, it’s “fake news.” If you’re Trump and you’re tweeting, it’s “FAKE NEWS.”

Well, how about the claim that Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, were operating a child-rape ring out of a D.C. pizzeria? Does that qualify as fake news, even FAKE NEWS?

When word of this child-rape hell spread, a man from North Carolina took his rifle, went to D.C., and shot up the pizzeria (though fortunately not killing anyone).

It can be serious business, fake news.

The Infowars guy — a fanner of this fake news — has now apologized. To read a news story, go here.

During the campaign, Trump gave an interview to the Infowars guy, Alex Jones. It was set up by Trump’s friend and adviser Roger Stone. (We know this because Trump said so on the air.)

At the end of the interview, the president-to-be said the following to Jones: “I just want to finish by saying that your reputation’s amazing. I will not let you down. You will be very, very impressed, I hope, and I think we’ll be speaking a lot.”

‐In New York, there is a Havana Film Festival. It is devoted to Latin American cinema. They also have a competition, in which a film by Carlos Lechuga was entered. The film is called “Santa y Andrés,” and it has to do with the treatment of homosexuals in Communist Cuba.

The Castro regime doesn’t like the film. Neither does the film festival, apparently — for they have yanked Santa y Andrés from the competition. (For a news story, go here.)

Typical. So typical.

‐Daniel Hannan wrote a column about UKIP and his friend Douglas Carswell, who had been UKIP’s only MP.

Let me back up a bit — and if you know all this, forgive me: Dan Hannan is a British writer and politician, a member of the European Parliament. He is a Conservative (a member of Britain’s Conservative party). UKIP is the U.K. Independence Party. Carswell was its sole Member of Parliament — its only representative at Westminster.

In 2014, he left the Conservative party to join UKIP. He has now left UKIP to be an independent.

I wanted to highlight a passage in Hannan’s column, which I thought especially nice. (The whole column has the Hannanesque beauty and insight.) He praises Carswell and then writes,

“Ah,” you might say, “you’re bound to say that, because Douglas is your friend.” True. But this works both ways. One of the reasons Douglas is my friend is that he has such a rare sense of decency and principle.

‐You want to read a wonderful story? It’s about a girl golfer in Nepal.

Pardon the phrase “girl golfer.” I like the alliteration, I like the phrase, and I like her.

She was born in a shed by the fourth tee. She still lives there, with her parents. And she dreams of going pro.

Wonderful and unusual stuff.

Oh, the link: here.

Would love to peg it up with her someday, right there in Kathmandu (or anywhere).

‐My colleague Linda Bridges passed on over the weekend. Jack Fowler’s post included an obituary written by Linda’s cousin. I want to tell you a story. And forgive me if I’m vague.

I once saw Linda in a tough situation. She could not answer back, when any of us would have loved to answer back. She was the image of poise. Of self-control. Even of good cheer.

Afterward, I told her how impressed I was — even awed. I could not have been more impressed if she had scaled Mount Everest — hey, weren’t we just talking of Nepal? — or swum the English Channel.

Also, she set an example for the rest of us.

I will never forget her conduct. Or the lady herself. She had so much to offer, with her intelligence, versatility, and graciousness. I’m grateful to have known her.

And I’ll see you later.


A word from the National Review Store: To get Digging In: Further Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger, go here.

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