Quick Takes: ‘Moderates Always Cave’

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Yesterday, when chronicling the response of a few moderate Republicans to McConnell’s health care bill, I noted that all of them talked about being “concerned.” The reason that wobble-word is important was captured by something a senior GOP aide said to Caitlin Owens.

“Moderates always cave,” one senior GOP aide told me. “I don’t know if conservatives will cave. That’s the pickle.”

That might be true for Republicans. It explains why negotiations over this health care bill in both the House and the Senate have zeroed in on finding a way to please the conservatives. If you remember the kinds of negotiations we witnessed among Democrats over bills like the stimulus and Obamacare, they were all focused on winning over the moderates. That difference speaks volumes.

* One moderate Republican has gone on record to express something beyond “concern.”

Widely considered a key swing vote in Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Dean Heller said Friday that he cannot support a recently released Senate revision to the healthcare law as written.

Flanked by fellow Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller said at a Las Vegas press conference that the Senate’s version of a replacement for the federal health insurance law, which could come up for a vote as soon as next week, was unpalatable for him and for the state.

“It’s simply not the answer,” he said.

* A few weeks ago I remember seeing this article about Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in Politico titled, “Meet the GOP senator who wants to bridge the Obamacare divide.”

To hear him tell it, he’s the one in Congress fighting to keep President Donald Trump’s promises to his base. On the campaign trail, Cassidy argues that Trump consistently promised a health care plan that would reduce premiums, eliminate mandates, ensure continuous coverage and protect people with pre-existing conditions. Any GOP plan, he says, needs to meet that bar…

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Cassidy a “real intellectual driver on our side” and said it’s unlikely the Louisiana senator would simply fall in line at the end of the process and vote for whatever GOP leaders demand.

* That was then. This is now.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) expressed his support for the Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill Friday, although he told the hosts of “Fox & Friends” that he had yet to commit to voting for it.

Asked if the bill bettered the state of health care, Cassidy replied: “It depends on how you define ‘better.’”

* There was a time not that long ago that most of the mainstream media was tying themselves in knots trying to come up with euphemisms to avoid saying that Trump lies. Those days seem to be gone. Today the New York Times published a graphic that is simply titled, “Trump’s Lies.” They chronicle every one he’s told since inauguration (and yes, they had to use really small font to do so). Here is part of their commentary to accompany the list.

President Trump’s political rise was built on a lie (about Barack Obama’s birthplace). His lack of truthfulness has also become central to the Russia investigation, with James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testifying under oath about Trump’s “lies, plain and simple.”

There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.

By the way, that last line about creating “an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant” comes right out of Vladimir Putin’s playbook.

* Kevin Drum is right. This is pretty much America in a nutshell:

* Finally, early this week I mentioned that I had just been introduced to the music of Jason Isbell. The song he performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week pretty well describes how I’m trying to hold on…sometimes just barely by my fingernails.

I know you’re tired
And you ain’t sleeping well
Uninspired
And likely mad as hell
But wherever you are
I hope the high road leads you home again
To a world you want to live in

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.