Trump’s reaction to defeat
The President’s public comments before and after the humiliating defeat was typical of his engagement during the process, showing an incomplete understanding of the political dynamics, a tendency to apportion blame to others and a lack of specifics about how the legislation could be saved or improved beyond unspecific platitudes.
Then, after disaster struck, he tweeted, calling for a simple vote to repeal Obamacare — and work on a replacement plan from a clean slate.
But it’s unclear whether that is a workable legislative solution in the Senate, or a political one for the GOP since it would be easy to opponents to frame the bill as slashing health care for millions of people without offering them any immediate replacement.
By Tuesday, Trump was lashing out his political foes.
“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.
But a rebound will depend on getting a significant piece of legislation passed — to show this White House and this Congress can get it done despite the obstacles that thwarted the health care push.
White House strategy — or lack thereof
But one problem of the Obamacare repeal process was that it was never completely clear what the White House strategy was, other than just waiting pen-in-hand in the Oval Office for a bill to sign.
One approach to a successful reform effort would have been to try to mobilize the nation behind the President through visits outside his political comfort zone in areas where he has strong support, and to build momentum for the bill with televised presidential addresses.
He chose not to take the path — possibly because the bill was seen by so many people as an unworkable solution to the problems with Obamacare.
The White House put at least a show of presidential zeal over the weekend, revealing that Trump called senators, as he had done on the way home from his trip to Paris last week.
But Trump’s Twitter account also shows that in the last few days, the President was far more interested in other issues — including the spectacle of of his trip to France’s Bastille Day parade and the fallout from his son Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.