On Tuesday morning, the president went to the Capitol to try to huff and bluff House Republicans into voting for Trumpcare, which many don’t want to do because it is a bad bill that will make the lives of everyone—but particularly the lives of people who voted for Trump—much worse.
This is pretty much the tactic for Paul Ryan and Trump. They’re daring Republicans to vote against this bill by making the specious claim that this is their only shot at passing health care reform. (It isn’t, not by a long shot.) Without the false sense of urgency, Ryan and Trump have nothing.
They are also creating a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario for Republicans. By raising the stakes for no reason, they’ve created a situation where you’re damned if you vote for the bill (because it’s terrible and it will put a target on your back) or if you don’t (Trump is suggesting he’ll blame defectors for future failures).
But that wasn’t all! Trump also made more specific threats.
This is Trump’s only negotiating tactic, really: intimidate people into doing what he wants them to do. But Trump’s support is a double-edged sword right now. He may be very popular among Republicans, but he’s incredibly unpopular generally, which means that the calculus for supporting his policies is complicated right now.
More than anything, this shows the limitation of Trump’s abilities as an executive and a negotiator. He just doesn’t have the patience or the subtlety to get things done at this level. Still, not everyone was unimpressed by this lackluster performance.
Ryan knows that treating Trump like a champion tee-ball player is the key to winning the president’s affection. But it doesn’t get you anywhere outside of Trump’s deranged mind.