Act 1 of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” features a putdown of a hollow braggart who “speaks an infinite deal of nothing.”
Sort of reminds of the merchant of Mar-a-Lago and his first act as a legislative mastermind.
“On my very first day in office,” said Donald Trump in October, in full bray about the Affordable Care Act, “I’m going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk to replace this disastrous law. And it’s gonna be so easy.”
Last week? “I never said repealing and replacing Obamacare would be easy.”
Talk about the art of the deal — an infinite deal of nothing.
How big a disaster was the attempted launch of the airship Trumpcare? Truly Hindenburg-style, just without, “Oh, the humanity.”
Twenty-four million Americans now won’t lose their health coverage, and in too many cases, their lives. I know, that’s a bad, sad deal for all those people who have everything they need. If you don’t have a gated, beachfront haven, get one.
Paul Ryan walks away, sullen, shaken, “so close” to the tantalizing prospect of tossing all those sorry sorts to the winds of the magical free market winds from which the ACA rescued them.
The “so close” that President Trump depicted as enough to count on two small hands? It was closer to three dozen votes shy of passage — this in a chamber firmly dominated by people who voted more than 50 times to abolish the ACA.
With utter consistency, all those times Ryan and Co. said they had a viable alternative for when President Obama could not spike their designs.
It turns out that the alternative they had for said occasion was a football-field-length rubberized bag of nitrogen.
Oh, the humility.
Ah, but none of that from Captain Trump. Climbing into the driver’s seat, this “big law” stuff was basically confined to tooting a horn – his horn.
Reports had Republican congressmen tearing their hair out over his lack of involvement in the crafting of the legislation.
On CNN, Poppy Harlow and Chris Cuomo had David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida, offer his thoughts on Trump’s command of the details of the leaden flying craft that carried his name.
He told Harlow, “I think [Trump is] learning about his own health care bill listening to you and Chris in the morning.”
Trump — “I’m a very smart man” — had an amazingly dumb observation when all went down in flames. Not a single Democrat, he complained, had voted to board his craft. Imagine that. The naiveté is, if we are permitted to use Trump’s favorite Twitter lament, “sad.”
Now he offers to the nation leadership in these statesmanlike terms: “The best thing is for Obamacare to explode.”
How so? How about sabotage emanating from new Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price when he sees to what extent he can cripple the ACA?
And the Congress can make the ACA misfire by doing such things as it did in 2015 when Republicans snuck a measure into a spending bill to gut so-called risk corridor payments to insurers which kept them in the game of insuring high-risk Americans. This may be as much to blame for insurers pulling out of the ACA as any functional flaw the GOP has assailed in asserting that it isn’t sustainable.
They say the ACA can’t work. Face it: It’s done an amazing job, considering that for seven years Republicans in Congress have labored to keep it from working.
Disastrous debut aside, the hollow braggart and his kin are not done taking away Americans’ health care, not by a long shot.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.