Emmanuel Macron made a brilliant move by inviting Trump to Paris to celebrate Bastille Day as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of American forces “Over There” to join the allies in World War I. The French President took the initiative and showed the French he could lead on the international stage. Macron appeared poised and confident yet demonstrated appropriate reserve. He revealed a cleverness without displaying any showiness.
Their meeting was well orchestrated by the French. Once Macron promised Trump a military parade down the Champs Elysees, he understood that Trump would be a pussy cat; nevertheless, Macron showed élan and maturity. Despite the fact that Trump is more than 30 years older than Macron, the French President clearly behaved as the elder statesman. While Trump has not made any slip-ups so far, it appears that Macron has determined the substantive agenda.
What is fascinating to consider is that at the moment, Macron and Angela Merkel are the nominal leaders of the West. Theresa May has her hands full at home. President Trump may assume he remains the leader of the free world, but there is much skepticism at this point about his views on global issues. It is clear that despite some nice gestures to the contrary in Paris as well as in Hamburg, Trump continues to reflect the Bannon driven America First doctrine.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be headed for one the first falls in his political career. Known to be one of Washington’s smartest politicians, it is beginning to appear that Trumpcare may well have tripped him up. McConnell has several very practical decisions to make in the days or weeks ahead, even if the Senate stays in Washington for two weeks longer in August than does the House. (Speaker Ryan challenged McConnell as well to deliver a bill to the House before their recess date and Ryan will have the House also stay in town.)
McConnell first needs the votes to proceed with debate. If he loses that vote—and it too will be close—the Senate may be better off going home early. This assumes that McConnell can fashion a consensus within his own party among the moderates and the conservatives even on a procedural matter.
If any bill comes to the floor and the Congressional Budget Office’s score next week suggests that the projected loss of health insurance remains in the neighborhood of 20 million people, the bill will fail. In addition, the bill would be doomed if the loss of funds for Medicaid recipients removes them from obtaining coverage and returns the indigent to the emergency rooms. The Cruz proposal may well be offered but it too will not carry.
All of this leaves McConnell with two embarrassing options. He can force a vote on some bill so that Republicans can tell go home saying they voted to “repeal and replace” Obamacare but the Democrats killed it. Alternatively, McConnell can sit down with moderate Democrats to fix the healthcare system.
Sadly, while this will would probably work, McConnell would have to eat crow after seven years of refusing to do precisely what was always the traditional method of legislating. McConnell could only then be saved if the Democrats turn balk and walk away from any changes and compromises. The final irony would be–if this were to work–that at this point it seems likely that the House will not accept a repaired Obamacare.