BY PETER F. STEVENS
Orders for sackcloth and ashes must be going through the proverbial roof. Democrats’ D-Day, Deliverance Day, based on the premise that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would raze the House of Trump with undeniable proof that the president takes his orders from a certain autocrat named Vlad, arrived with a four-page Declination for Dummies from US Attorney General William Barr.
Barr, of course, is the man who presented a 19-page job application—“memo”—to the White House months ago professing his belief that a president cannot commit obstruction of justice because, in short, his presidential superpowers say so. Sagely, Trump knew he’d found his own deliverer.
Although Barr’s “report” noted that Mueller himself had stated there was no exoneration for Trump on possible obstruction, the attorney general was able to ascertain in less than two days that the material Mueller took nearly two years to compile had no prosecutorial merit.
The bottom line: Trump won big. Unless Democrats want to blow their still-strong chances to oust Trump the old-fashioned way—at the 2020 ballot box—the party might want to consider accepting Mueller’s take on collusion/coordination and shelve talk of impeachment. That prospect is delusional. Instead, the Dems should pound the president not on his “Russia problem,” but on the tried-and-true issue that even the president has called a “red line”—his gnarled finances.
Unless Barr crosses a legal red line and tries to gut the trail of highly questionable financial dealings that the SDNY (Southern District of New York) is relentlessly pursuing against Trump and his family, the federal prosecutors in Manhattan pose a far greater threat to the president and his entire family than did Mueller.
For the moment, Donald Trump can keep taking his victory lap. The real test, however, is yet to come.
A swing to healthcare
With the media and the political establishment obsessed with Mueller, Putin, collusion, obstruction, etc., the existential issue that unleashed a bonafide “blue wave” in last November’s elections remains at the top of most polls. It’s a little thing called health care. The president’s and the GOP’s unrelenting mission to deprive Americans with preexisting conditions any chance of affordable insurance has flown under the political radar since the Dems drubbed Trump and his repeal-but-replace-Obamacare-with-nothing crowd at the pools.
On Mon, March 25, however, Bill Barr’s and Donald Trump’s Department of Justice found a judicial ally in a Texas federal judge, a man with the decidedly Celtic-sounding moniker of Reed O’Connor, whose ardor to destroy affordable health care mirrors their own. According to the DC publication The Hill, “the Department of Justice (DOJ)…announced that it is siding with a district court ruling [O’Connor’s] that found the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The move is an escalation of the Trump administration’s legal battle against the health care law.”
Regardless of one’s affinity or contempt for Donald Trump, for anyone who believes that pre-existing condition protections and affordable healthcare is a right, not a privilege, the administration’s support for Judge O’Connor’s “grand” decision should be chilling. The commitment of Trump and his DOJ—with Barr, who is most assuredly Trump’s DOJ—to eradicate the Affordable Care Act cost the GOP dearly in 2018. Nancy Pelosi, who made healthcare the issue of that campaign, knows that, and so do the gutless US Senate minions more afraid of the man in the White House than of their own constituents who like the Affordable Care Act so long as you just don’t call it Obamacare.
If the Dems are smart, they should pay more than passing interest in 2020 to that guy sitting on a bench in Texas named O’Connor.
Of all the Irish Americans who worship slavishly at the feet of our President, one can count on Kellyanne Conway and Mick Mulvaney to provide verbal “gems” that truly reach Trumpian levels. The running Twitter salvos between Donald Trump and Conway’s spouse, the noted conservative attorney George Conway, who has questioned the president’s sanity and competence again and again, seems to be compelling his spouse, Kellyanne, to issue apologies to that country ditty “Stand By Your Man” by standing by her man.
Brett Samuels writes in The Hill: “White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said…that she believes the president is looking out for her in attacking her spouse as a ‘loser and a whack job’… [The president] is protective of me and that’s what people should take from this…”
Okay, fine, Ms. Conway, but what about when your boss said you’re married to “the husband from hell” and that he’s a “disgrace” to your children? Oh, yeah, the president’s simply protecting you from your own spouse.
Then there’s this from Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff: Following Trump’s tepid response to the massacre of Muslims in the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques, Mick hit the Sunday morning pundit factories to assure us all that our president is not a white supremacist. Thanks for clearing that up!
BY PETER F. STEVENS