Three weeks ago, I decided to give our readers a break from seeing my ugly mug in Wednesday’s newspaper.
I can’t imagine how terrible it must be to awaken on a Wednesday morning, make a cup of coffee and be greeted by my face on our Opinion page.
So you’re welcome, but the truth is I was recovering from my latest surgery. I’m like an old car. Every few thousand miles I need the mechanics to replace a part or two.
I had all sorts of time to sit in my chair and read the news, and the hours spent staring at my cell phone or the computer prompted many column ideas.
Firstly, I’m excited that somebody finally listened to me. The legislature and governor have made mimosas on Sunday mornings possible. I was more excited to hear that a few Surry County venues hope to serve Sunday morning mimosas. They’ll have at least one customer.
I also was happy to see that it would appear any plans of starting a needle-exchange program in Mount Airy seem to have gained no traction. There’s a fine line between helping a drug user and enabling a drug user. Getting somebody into a treatment program is helping. Handing him another needle to shoot up is enabling.
On that note, I also read the very bad news of a young life lost in an alleged murder. I’ve written before about how I believe our justice system kicks the can down the road too frequently in sentencing. All too often I see probation for smaller crimes such as drug possession eventually escalate into somebody ending up dead.
However, the most intriguing show — the one that had me cheating on my wife with the New York Times and the Washington Post — occurred at the federal level.
For nearly eight years, Republicans have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and when the show finally happened it was better than an episode of House of Cards.
No matter what one thinks about Obamacare — or health care in general — the show highlighted the incompetence of both a political novice and a veteran lawmaker in the failed effort.
I think it was obvious to most that President Donald Trump lacked a working knowledge of, well, anything of which a president ought to have knowledge. Throughout the campaign he proved himself to be incapable of talking policy. Instead, he used soundbites like “lock her up” and “make America great again” and promised to build a wall on the nation’s southern border.
He called Obamacare “terrible” and “failed” policy.
I don’t think anybody voted for Trump because of his political experience. Some folks were lured by the soundbites. Others with an “impeach them all” attitude wanted to see things shaken up in the District of Columbia. However, I think all people who voted for Trump believed he possessed some sort of leadership quality that was needed in Washington.
They were wrong, and health care is the first concrete exhibit that Trump is no leader.
Whether one likes his policy or not, Barack Obama entered the arena of health care reform with a plan. He presented that plan. He pushed for that plan, and after lawmakers tweaked it, he signed off on a version of the plan.
The GOP health care reform efforts were doomed from the start, because the captain of the ship was asleep — or more likely, checking out the new cruise director’s body — from the start of the debate.
Leaders lead, and Trump didn’t. What a president in his shoes should have done was come up with a plan and present and sell it to Congress. Instead, he let all the mates fight over the wheel. Lacking any course, they are still aimlessly sailing through the middle of the ocean.
Instead of leading, Trump did what he does best. He bullied, and his efforts and the efforts of errand boy Mike Pence left him empty-handed.
I pick on Trump too much, however. Perhaps, conservatives who wanted to see an end to Obama’s health care policy should chalk this one up to the learning process.
They should want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s head on a stake though. McConnell is seasoned. He made his assent in the Senate by way of whipping votes and keeping GOP members of the chamber in line.
The man has been serving in the Senate longer than I have been alive. He was elected as the GOP’s whip in 2003, and he has been the caucus’ leader since 2006.
McConnell’s job is to count votes and to pass legislation for which he knows he has the votes. He failed in epic fashion in that endeavor on the biggest stage in the world.
He was likely never in a position to save health care reform, but he certainly was in the position to save the party from a crippling embarrassment
No matter where one stands on how we deliver health care to the nation’s citizens, it ought to be clear there is a lack of both unity and leadership in the GOP.
That’s going to make for a tough day for my party in November of 2018.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.