Trump again shows his mastery … of misdirection and fraud

APTOPIX Congress Health Overhaul
Stephanie Woodward, of Rochester, NY, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, is removed from a sit-in at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office as she and other disability rights advocates protest proposed funding caps to Medicaid, Thursday, June 22, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The day was rapidly becoming a day of disaster for the Republican Party and, thus, for President Trump. It started in late morning, as details of the long-awaited — and long-secret — GOP Senate plan to replace Obamacare finally were made public. The revelations weren’t a huge surprise. To the now-majority of Americans who want to keep the health care system mostly as is, the legislation was everything that had been feared: A massive tax cut for billionaires and millionaires that will be funded by taking away health care from the struggling middle class, and by raising premiums for those citizens who can least afford it.

And yet the bill isn’t just a PR disaster but also a potential political fiasco for the GOP. Because after riling up the electorate, it’s not even clear that Senate Republicans have the votes to pass this monstrosity. Winning the support of four key ultra-conservatives will need a major side-step to the far-right, which might cause GOP moderates (to the extent there is such a thing) to abandon ship. So basically, if this unpopular bill passes, it’s one kind of disaster for the Republican Party. If it doesn’t pass, it’s a different kind.

And as midday arrived, things got even worse. As dozens of disabled Americans clustered around the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to protest, Capitol Police waded in to make arrests, literally yanking some of the protesters out of their wheelchairs. The sickening moment seemed a new low for a government determined to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.

It was becoming one hot mess for the Grand Old Party, and then — deus ex machina! — this happened at 12:55 p.m.

What happened next reminded me of one of my favorite parts of Orwell’s 1984, the scene where the war against Eastasia suddenly becomes the war against Eurasia, with everybody not noticing, or at least pretending not to notice. On the cable news channels, the pundit panels that were so busy yapping about the millions of Americans losing their Medicaid instantly disappeared, as if fallen through a secret trap door in the studio. Wheeled in were new panels, breathlessly discussing the latest soap-operatic turn in the tale of the tapes that — surprise, surprise — never existed. The Senate Republicans — who just got away with crafting their plan and their dangerous wealth grab from the middle class in unprecedented secrecy —  were now getting away with knocking their awful bill off the airwaves. Just the way they wanted it. Remember, Trump has been promising for days to reveal whether or not these tapes existed — and yet he dropped it minutes after the health care bill. Why? Because President Donald J. Trump has mastered the art of only one thing. Distraction.

Should you (and I) be more worked up that Trump’s earlier implication that he had tapes of his conversations with his fired FBI director turned out to be yet another falsehood delivered from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Sure, but then a) did anyone actually believe that Trump had tapes (I didn’t) and 2) the president has succeeded in his broader — and repulsive — goal of making America grow numb to his White House whoppers.

This is probably a significant development in the long run. It means that Jim Comey’s contemporaneous memos are the best record we have of his conversations with Trump, and those memos suggest the president of the United States tried to obstruct an ongoing FBI probe. There’s a remarkably adept special prosecutor — Robert Mueller — breathing down the collective necks of Team Trump, and perhaps someday his investigation will strengthen the case for obstruction and develop information in other areas such as money laundering or collusion with Russian election hacking that will either flip some Republican minds (yeah, right) or cause a Democratic wave election and Trump’s ouster after 2018.

But by the time that happens — if it happens — the GOP’s donor class will merrily be buying their second yachts or another Bentley with their tax savings, and before long good, decent Americans will die before their time because they lost the ability ti get a yearly physical. Meanwhile, this week’s insane roasting of Phoenix and lowland inundation in Louisiana is a sneak preview of the steady advance of climate change against an uncaring GOP-led federal government — another crisis that festers while the news media races to cover Trump’s latest tweet storm and his insane rantings about tapes that never existed, the also fake “tapp” by ex-President Obama, or “Crooked H.”

The Art of the Deal was complete baloney — seriously, who goes bankrupt running a casino? — but the Art of Distraction is Donald Trump’s masterwork … distraction, and the fraud of “health care reform” that he is successfully covering up with his Twitter antics. I am so ashamed of our news media — which desperately needs a double-dose of Ritalin — but just because CNN is so easily distracted doesn’t mean that you, the American citizen, have to be. If you belong to the “silent majority” who thinks stripping people’s health coverage and giving the cash to billionaires isn’t making America great again, then don’t be silent. Call your senator and tell his or her staff what you think. Don’t let the “drama queen” of reality-show politics distract America to death. Your health is too damn important.