Competent comeuppance

BOB_FRANKEN_CMark down the first week of May in your scorecard. To the frustrated “do something even if it’s wrong” crowd, that is when the Trump White House and the House Republicans actually got something done.

They passed legislation that keeps the federal government running, which is generally regarded as not wrong, except for by some anti-government hard-liners. And they actually passed another important bill: one that would gut health insurance for millions of Americans. But hey, it was getting something done for the GOP politicians, most importantly the Trumpsters, who were impatient to not look like wheel-spinners.

For so many who are frightened by the thought of Donald Trump controlling the levers of power, this was their worst nightmare. They had taken comfort in the fact that his corrosive effect was limited by incompetence — not only his, but that of the stumblebums all around him. Up until now, the Trump promises to impose hateful and destructive policies had been stalled. Now we have evidence that maybe the GOPs are figuring things out. If so, they finally could proceed with their agenda to do serious harm to the nation, except for its wealthiest inhabitants.

The richest of the rich are largely the ones who will benefit once his one-page “tax plan” is filled out with thousands upon thousands of details. The obese cats are the ones who have armies of lawyers, accountants and lobbyists to shape policy.

Those who need social services aren’t so well-connected and see their interests overwhelmed by influence peddlers. Their only hope is that the current president will return to his impetuous ways and will overreach. Or that the Senate will somehow bring sanity to a health care plan that is insanely cruel. Or that the Democrats will successfully stand up to Trump’s proposed budget, which would do serious social harm, the next time around in September. He is already playing hardball, tweeting, “Our country needs a good ’shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

What we need is a political opposition that’s not merely based on the theory that somehow, someway, Donald Trump will not serve out his term. That’s just wishful thinking. In fact, Trump is already thinking out loud about a second term. There’s little evidence that his millions of supporters have lost any of their passion for him, even though it has become so obvious that they will suffer the most if the administration achieves its goals. Health care is just one example, but that’s even more the case when it comes to tax and economic policy and cutting regulations that protect us from pollution and a financial system that cheats.

The week even produced a good jobs report. So it was a mellow Donald Trump who tweeted as he rested up at still another of his golf properties: “Great jobs report today — It is all beginning to work!” That’s truly the big fear of those who are frightened of this president’s grandiose malice, that it will begin to work, that his administration might be successful in his quest to poison the nation. So far, we’ve entirely paid attention to the Trumpian spectacle. Instead, we need to focus on his substance and the grievous harm it can do to an entire nation.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Synd.