Is anyone else tired of all the winning?
Even by Trumpian standards, this week has stuffed a month’s worth of insanity into 168 hours. To hit just the highlights: Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer and fixer confessed in open court that the President Known as Individual 1 directed him to break campaign finance laws to make hush money payments to a porn star and Playboy model with whom Trump had allegedly had affairs, and was sentenced to three years in prison. That claim was corroborated by the National Enquirer’s publisher, who admitted to working with the Trump campaign (and, according to NBC News, Trump himself) to “catching and killing” the salacious stories — an indication that if the president weren’t the president, he would have already been indicted as well. What’s more, federal prosecutors opened an investigation into possible corruption associated with the Trump inauguration, which spent an obscene amount of money, and the special counsel’s office secured a plea deal and cooperation agreement with a Russian agent who infiltrated the NRA to help Trump.
Now, just about every organization Trump has helmed over the last decade, from his campaign to his nonprofit to his businesses, is under some investigation or another.
And we’re just getting started: There was Nancy Pelosi taking Trump to school in the Oval Office over the border wall and the potential shutdown; the emerging scandal over the 7-year-old migrant girl who died of dehydration in Border Patrol custody; the embarrassing spectacle of Trump casting about to find someone, anyone, willing to be his chief of staff, and finally settling on a temp who two years ago called him a “terrible human being”; the coming departure of Trump’s scandal-ridden Interior secretary; the Education Department’s failed effort to force thousands of defrauded students to repay $150 million in student loans; the plunging stock market; the New York Times’ investigation, which revealed that the administration rolled back fuel economy standards beyond what the automobile industry wanted at the oil industry’s request; and the president’s Sunday Twitter meltdown, including the not-at-all-authoritarian-sounding idea that Saturday Night Live not be allowed to make fun of him.
To put a big bow on it, the Washington Post dropped a big piece Sunday night on a new report prepared for senators explaining in unprecedented detail how Russia went about trying to get Donald Trump elected — primarily, by using social media to get conservatives hot and bothered over guns and immigration and by spreading disinformation to African Americans — and then to prop him up once he was in office.
Again: Is anyone else tired of all the winning?
Trump did have one victory, if you can call it that, late Friday night, when a right-wing federal judge struck down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act on grounds that most legal experts find tenuous at best. The basic idea is that when Congress repealed the penalty that accompanied the individual tax penalty as part of the tax cut package last year, it invalidated the entire law — from the preexisting conditions coverage guarantee to Medicaid expansion, from the individual marketplaces to the mandated calorie counts at restaurants — even though Congress had declined to repeal the entire law that same year.
Legal experts were less than convinced: A prominent conservative scholar told the Post the decision was “embarrassingly bad”; a University of Michigan law professor called it “as naked a piece of judicial activism as I have ever seen.”
Trump, however, was here for it: “Wow,” he tweeted, “but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas.” (Your mileage may vary.) “Great news for America!” (Same.)
The ruling will be appealed and has no immediate effect, other than to put Republicans in a bind: For eight years, they campaigned as if Obamacare was singlehandedly destroying American health care, but then, well, people discovered they liked it, so during this last cycle, Trump and company found themselves promising to maintain the law’s popular advantages, especially regarding preexisting conditions. If Trump gets his wish and the Supreme Court upholds this judge’s unique interpretation of the Constitution, the Republicans will be the dog that caught the car — suddenly forced to produce the viable “improvement” they’ve been unable to produce for nearly a decade, or else millions of people will lose their health care and thousands will die. (Or, option B, Democrats will win the White House and big majorities in Congress and enact Medicare for All in 2021.)
But hey, a win is a win. And for the President Known as Individual 1, after this week from hell, he’ll take whatever he can get.