Paul Ryan should walk around Congress for the next couple of weeks wearing a sign around his neck that reads, “I am a failure.” It’s not that everyone else doesn’t already know that he’s a failure – oh, that’s one message that he’s succeeded in getting out Lima Charlie – it’s that it doesn’t seem like he knows that he’s a failure. Perhaps some signage would remind him to wipe that smug, smarmy grin off his face, and inspire him to achieve something other than nothing.
Yet he’ll persist, with his unerring poor judgment, his undercurrent of condescension to anyone not in tune with his wonky nonsense, and his inability to master the most basic competencies of his job, in proving himself a worthy successor to John Boehner as the GOP’s biggest obstacle to victory. It’s certainly not the Democrats – those hacks spent the night of the healthcare retreat taking mass selfies celebrating Ryan’s hopelessness and convincing themselves that his running into the GOP’s own end zone was their score. It wasn’t – notwithstanding Paul’s unforced error, they are the Falcons at the Super Bowl with a halftime show featuring Nickelback.
See, the big news this week isn’t the first quarter Obamacare repeal festival of ineptitude – it’s that Neil Gorsuch is going to sail through to confirmation, leaving the burning wreckage of the SCOTUS filibuster in his wake. That’s the money right there, a win guaranteeing that the future confirmation of RBG’s replacement – who I hope is so conservative he eats raw meat off the bone – will be just a mere 51-vote technicality. And there’s other stuff too: laying the Keystone pipe, rolling back regulations, ICE booting out aspiring Democrats, and Trump wrangling new jobs. Even the fact that Team Trump was wiretapped was reaffirmed despite the NYT denying that when it reported that Team Trump was wiretapped it really meant that Team Trump was wiretapped. Slowly but surely, small win after small win – we’re moving toward victory. But thanks to kongressional klutzes like Ryan, a war of attrition is how it’s going to have to be.
Ulysses S. Grant also knew something about pummeling the stubborn Democrats of #TheResistance into submission, although his Democrats used iron chains instead of welfare and lies to keep their serfs in bondage. Grant wasn’t a big, flamboyant martial artist like George Patton – he didn’t make giant, bold strokes across the canvas of the battlefield. Grant was about brute force, not finesse. He found his Democrat enemy, fixed him in position, and beat on him until the Democrat couldn’t take it anymore and handed over his saber. That’s the right strategy for facing this intractable foe – luckily, the Democrats of today are merely a bunch of talky, whiny wusses, not the hardcore and courageous infantry and cavalry G-Dawg (and my ancestors) were called upon to regulate.
Grant had bad days too. Just ask the guys at The Crater. You don’t always win, even when you are exhausted from all your prior #winning. The enemy was delighted at the repeal screw-up: ABC News broke in with a special report, libgasmic at Ryan pulling the hapless bill, while the circle of smart over at CNN was breaking out the cuddles and cigs, certain that this was finally the beginning of the end of Trump. Nope. It’s still the beginning of the beginning. We’re are about 67 days in out of 1461, just 4.29% done, and the haters’ attempts to pronounce the Trump administration DOA are wishful unthinking. Of course, this is all now just a cliché – “Oh, Trump’s done for this time!” has been the “Oh, well I never!” of the Democrat and Fredocon Margaret Dumont Coalition since they figured out that he actually intends to do what he promised to do.
Grant had to deal with his share of failed commanders – Grant jebcanned Ambrose Burnside after the fiasco at The Crater. But Ryan is the head of half of a co-equal branch – he can’t just be cashiered, as much as everyone would like him to be. With no apparent generally acceptable replacement on the horizon, conservatives are stuck with a weakened, chastened P90X Paul. Maybe now, instead of blasting his own glutes (and ours), Ryan will start understanding that he needs to kick the glutes of our enemies. But then establishmentocons have shown zero capacity to learn from their myriad failures. Remember, these RINOs are the George McClellans of conservatism – always waiting waiting waiting for the “right time” that never comes to actually do battle with progressivism, and thereby letting it run rampant, pillaging the countryside.
We know the strategy – grind out win after win, big and small, over time until the liberals are broken. It’s the tactics that Ryan has botched; he’s shown no aptitude for the basic blocking and tackling of legislating and consistently falls back on the errors of the past. Here’s how healthcare should have gone. Paully, starting the morning of November 9th, you should have orchestrated an inclusive effort to create a bill based on a consensus that incorporated every stakeholder with the ability to icepick it (the transition team, the Freedom Caucus, the squishes, the think tanks, and most vitally, the Senate). Once you had something everyone agreed on – and 216 sure votes in the House and 51 in the Senate – you all appear with the Prez in front of the cameras to announce it before you actually put out the document, thereby cementing in the narrative about why the people should dig it before the haters can hate it into little pieces. Then you pass it and win.
But what did we get? A tactical clusterflunk. Seven years in and Ryan wasn’t ready. He putzed around with no sense of urgency until there was a sense of urgency. Who was expecting this dog’s breakfast to drop when it did? And it just dropped on us out of the blue – one day, suddenly, there’s this whole plan out there. Surprise! I listened to Hugh Hewitt the morning after it was released; he was stunned that he couldn’t get any of the Republican House leadership [sic] on his show to talk to his conservative audience about the biggest piece of legislation in Trump’s first term.
Paully, you gave the enemy precious hours to set the narrative, and the bill never recovered. How stupid can you be to have no full court press plan to sell it, to manage the message, even though my corgi-retriever could have foreseen the media’s narrative was going to be that this was the moral equivalent of the Rwandan genocide - only without all the love?
Three phases? You didn’t have the credibility for one phase and you were babbling about three. Any idiot could have seen that Phase III (“The Democrats Do Exactly the Opposite of What Democrats Do”) was never going to happen. Well, apparently not every idiot.
If you had incorporated all the people you needed in the drafting, they might have alerted you that this was New Coke dumb. But you and your cronies drafted it in secret in some dark room somewhere with no input from the people who actually had to go explain their vote to their voters. “Surprise! Here’s a steaming pile of garbage! Please vote for it because I want you to!” Yeah, no.
Congrats! That’s how you manage to garner a 17% approval rating for a plan to repeal something that is about as popular as herpes.
Luckily, most people aren’t #caring about #RepealFail like us political junkies. Within 12 hours, Twitter forgot about the fiasco and was back to trending topics of the #DeformAMovieWithOneLetter sort (“Star Warts”), though enough people were sufficiently freaked out to make it a good sale day for my novel about America splitting into red and blue halves.
Ryan is still making tactical errors. Instead of saying, “Tomorrow, I am calling together all the stakeholders and we are getting right back to work on fixing this,” it was, “Well, that was sad. Let’s forget about repealing Obamacare for a while and work on tax reform because it’s important to let the media spin us as focusing all our efforts on giving tax cuts to the rich instead of cutting normal people’s premiums.” And you just know Wonky O’Tonedeaf is going to wheel out a tax reform abortion cobbled together in some Cannon Office Building utility closet that screws over Republican voters with cuts to the home mortgage, charity, and state tax deductions because why wouldn’t the GOP be stupid enough to shaft its own voters while still managing to get painted by the media as toadying to the rich?
Obamacare’s getting repealed, just not today. Nor next month apparently, since the 438 members of the House can’t seem to do more than one thing at once. Of course, if Ryan didn’t have them working just eight days in April – yeah, you heard me right – maybe they could accomplish something besides managing to look both inept and lazy while currying favor with the zillionaires. You might as well wear top hats and monocles because you seem hellbent on validating every hack cliché about Republicans.
The Grant strategy is the only strategy that’s going to work against this stubborn, entrenched enemy. Grind it out, an inch at a time, until the enemy breaks. And luckily, Grant was able to win his war using this strategy even with tactically inept generals. Yet Paul Ryan, with his utter inability to competently manage legislation and, worse, with his total refusal to learn from his constant series of errors, is a real problem because Trump just can’t fire him. But the GOP caucus can, and they need to send him a message Lima Charlie. Learn or leave, Paully, because if you can’t kick some Democrat asset, you’re nothing but a liability.