We should have known that each and every time a snarky remark was made by a liberal about his failing first 100 days, Trump's determination to win grew. Much as the truly clever and funny jabs that Obama made in 2011 at the White House Correspondent's Dinner set in concrete Donald's determination to run and win the presidency.
It is said that Donald Trump has no understanding of the complexities of health care... by Donald himself in fact. And he really does not care, any more than he cares about refugees or American workers. He wants to be liked, and he wants to win. He would rather be liked by rich and powerful people than by disgruntled Americans, but if the latter can help him do the bidding of the former, he will say whatever he needs to say to get there.
One of the groups of peons that Trump has courted successfully is the republican Congress. Don't laugh. They may be a lot richer than the rest of us, but they aren't in the same league as the Kochs or Vladimir Putin. They are just rich enough to be insecure about keeping that wealth. They are just rich enough to know that losing could be just around the corner. In other words, except for the money, they are a lot like the middle class Trump supporter.
Ryan and McConnell and their cronies want nothing more than to be in the club, and Donald Trump can smell that vulnerability. When he bused all those senators to the White House for that meeting on North Korea, it had all the makings of a Trump sales pitch. Inviting a group of powerful people to "his" house is to Trump like inviting the Chinese president to share his delicious chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago. It puts the power in his hands.
Imagine his surprise when even republican senators were unimpressed.
Donald Trump is a man of limited intellect but a craving for attention and approval that has created a finely-honed instinct for manipulating others. Of course, he couldn't have done it without his father's wealth and influence, but what he developed has worked quite well for him in his businesses -- even when he lost he made sure he won, regardless of who he had to throw under the bus to do it.
What looks like erratic behavior is really a pattern of responses that is coming to be fairly predictable: assumption of success; disbelief followed by rage -- insults and attacks; withdrawing briefly to regroup; followed by approach and flattery; and then the deal.
He has done this with each of his primary opponents, with the media, with foreign leaders, and now with Congress.
But he is finding that he is playing in a different league these days. Even psycho leaders like Duterte of the Philippines are offering fairly lame excuses to avoid looking like they want to be seen associating with our own psycho leader. And he was brushed off by the inaptly named Freedom Caucus, the group formerly known as the Tea Party, when he tried to prod them into the original AHCA bill.
Like a rat learning to press the lever to get another rice krispie, however, Trump is a good learner. He knew how to get Paul Ryan to be his House lapdog, and it didn't take that much more wheeling and dealing to sell the really bad health insurance bill to the people that were actually looking for really bad health insurance to pawn off on the American people.
But that group of people in Congress who are just insecure enough that they will work with Trump to get what they need don't mind throwing him under the bus either. So what we all tried to call "RyanCare" is now "TrumpCare." And the republicans who have been at the art of the political dirty deal far longer than Trump, have laid the ground work for laying the blame on him AND gotten their nasty piece of legislation passed.
There are a couple of important factors here, things we need to keep front and center as we watch -- and even try to influence -- the outcome of this struggle.
First of all, we need to stop pretending that the Senate is that much more grown up and responsible than the House. They are mostly smarter, and definitely shrewder, than their wacky counterparts, but they are still rabid about success, and equally insecure about their futures. They are in the pockets of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, but because they can't count on guaranteed gerrymandered districts, they have to pretend to be listening to and working for all their constituents.
We in South Carolina have learned the hard way to never make the mistake of assuming that Lindsey Graham is on our side. He is on Lindsey Graham's side, the side of the right wing, whether it be religious or corporate. He was tickled that he could vote Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court, and did whatever mental maneuvers were necessary to defend his desires. This is true of Mitch McConnell, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and all the other folks that have been bought by corporate money.
And that leads us back to Trumpcare. It is a truly egregious scheme, a tax cut for the really wealthy that takes health care away from pregnant women, cancer patients and sick children. But in that, it is not much different than what has been happening to workers and education since the 80's, and what will be happening to our environment. Every piece of which will make us sicker, less able to care for ourselves and our families, and less able to fight the plutocratic oligarchy that has managed to lie, cheat and steal their way into Washington.
The irony is, you can call it Trumpcare, but Trump doesn't care. Ryan and the rest of the right-wingnuts are looking for continued wealth and security. But the joke is on them. The only ones Trump cares about are Trumps. And every single damn thing he has done since he came into office has profited the Trumps. That is the other thing we need to keep remembering to keep our eyes on.
Talk about the art of your deal made in hell.