Back to partisan politics

Donald Trump — and it seems to be a very bad habit — manages to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. After a run where he appeared presidential, and even more remarkably, human, handling DACA and hurricanes, he managed to perform a reprise of Charlottesville. Bipartisanship went by the boards and the rabblerouser returned in Alabama.

It was not all his fault. Republicans in Congress, led by little Lindsay Graham and a Louisianian named Cassidy, decided to revise, repeal and replace. Trying to prove to the mythical “base” that they were still viable, they contributed to Trump returning to pre-hurricane form. Forced to pull the bill anyway, the Graham-Cassidy team returned the GOP to mid-August. The bill was so draconian that even conservatives sneered at it.

Moreover, it scuttled any chance that Luther Strange had in beating ultra-religious right winger Roy Moore in the Alabama Republican Senatorial primary. It was while campaigning for Strange that Trump went choleric on the National Football League, urging that they fire any players that protest. Trump’s maneuver backfired — even Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, took a knee. Tom Brady and Robert Kraft, two Trump backers, even denounced the president’s comments. Moore won and it was ex-adviser Steve Bannon’s time to gloat.

Make no mistake, Senator Cassidy and Graham started this march down the hill. For reasons known only to him, Trump backed a bill sponsored partially by a political enemy — Graham. If the re-shuffling at the White House has done any good it is hard to see. Once more, Trump is pulled both ways and when pushed he returns to his erratic temperament.

The obsession with repeal and replace of Obamacare has become such a staple with some of the GOP it is beginning to be comic. Foolish consistency is no answer, or simply put, “We made a promise.” Maybe the promise was ill-made. Better to admit they overstated their message rather than to push a policy that was unpopular. Graham and Cassidy helped to do the impossible, they made the Affordable Care Act popular.

As well, it seems the anti-Barrack Obama rhetoric truly shaped the GOP view in the eight years of Obama’s administration. Formerly Romney-care, it actually came from an idea pushed by Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. Suddenly the tea partiers and the assorted Obama-haters turned their backs on an essentially Republican idea. Mitch McConnell, cool counter as he may be, could not help being carried away by the emotion of his fellow Republicans. And even that did not satisfy them — witness Moore’s large victory.

Trump would be well advised to deal with Charles and Nancy. Democrats have gotten more done in two weeks than the GOP has in the last nine months. Time to return, not to the divisions of Charlottesville but to the unity of Houston. Maybe doing more for Puerto Rico would be a start. But Trump’s relapse into rancid partisanship was certainly disheartening.