While I was taking my morning walk [along the circumference of the 5th arrondissement], I reflected on several very significant recent developments in American domestic politics. [I shall reserve to a later post my responses to the wealth of interesting comments about morality and international affairs.] I refer first to the revelations regarding the meeting between Kushner, Trump jr., and Manafort and an ever expanding roster of characters, and second the collapse of the efforts of Senate Republicans to do something, anything, about the Affordable Care Act.
The daily revelations about the meeting make it more and more likely that there was a sustained, extensive, conscious, deliberate attempt by Trump himself and his closest advisors to work hand in glove with agents of the Russian government to defeat Hilary Clinton, in return for which assistance Trump would deliver a lifting of economic sanctions and other desiderata of the Putin government. You may adopt any evaluative stance toward this effort you wish, but it is becoming more and more implausible to deny that it occurred. Since Clinton was an historically awful candidate, she would no doubt have contrived to lose the election all on her own, but pretty clearly laws were broken, and Robert Mueller will, I should imagine, prosecute a number of the members of Trump’s family, unless, as I expect, Trump intervenes and issues a raft of plenary pardons. I rather doubt there could be revelations sufficiently awful to prod the Republican House to vote a bill of impeachment. We shall have to wait and see.
The failure of Senate health care initiatives is splendid news, for two reasons. First, it stops the Congress and President from doing terrible, terrible harm to tens of millions of people. Second, it establishes the political truth that health care is now indeed the third rail of modern American politics, as Social Security once was. [For the youthful among you, when subways powered by electricity were introduced, the trains ran on a pair of parallel rails through which no electricity flowed. The power was delivered by a third rail. You could jump down onto the tracks and touch the first two rails with impunity, so long as you got back up before the next subway train ran over you, but if, when doing so, you touched the third rail, you got electrocuted.] The third rail became first a metaphor and then a cliché for a legally established right or program it was political death to touch.
The Democrats, even those suicidally bent on resurrecting the Clintonian Democratic Leadership Council’s Third Way, have taken notice of the spontaneous upswelling of resistance to the Republican efforts to repeal the ACA and seem collectively to possess the wit to make opposition to those efforts the centerpiece of their 2018 campaign. By one of those bizarre turns that makes politics so hard to predict, in the midst of this ground level resistance, Single Payer seems to be gaining support.
By the way, merely flying to Paris seems to have made it possible for me to squelch the tendency to view American politics as the natural center of the universe. Very liberating.