Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of president. He was a populist fighting on behalf of the "forgotten man," taking on the GOP establishment, draining the Washington swamp, protecting Medicaid from cuts, vowing to cover everyone with health care and make the government pay for it. He was a pragmatic businessman who was going to make Washington work for you, the little guy, not the ideologues and special interests.
Instead, Trump has become a pitchman for Paul Ryan and his agenda. He's spent the past week fighting for a health care bill he didn't campaign on, didn't draft, doesn't understand, doesn't like to talk about, and can't defend. Rather than forcing the Republican establishment to come around to his principles, he's come around to theirs — and with disastrous results.
Democrats don't like this bill. Independents don't like this bill. Conservatives don't like this bill. Moderates don't like this bill. All the energy behind the American Health Care Act is coming from inside the GOP congressional establishment — and now from Trump himself. In a sense, this Matt Drudge tweet says it all:
Sixty days into his presidency, Trump has lashed himself to a Paul Ryan passion project that's polling at 56-17 percent against. As political scientist Ryan Enos drolly observed, "in a hyper-partisan political climate, it's actually an accomplishment to write legislation this unpopular." Nor is Trump emerging unscathed: Polls show his approval rating falling into the 30s — and that's before he's taken away health insurance from a single person.
The AHCA breaks Trump's promises to his base so fulsomely, so completely, that when told by Tucker Carlson on Fox News "that counties that voted for you, middle-class and working-class counties, would do far less well under the bill," Trump was reduced to saying, simply: "Oh, I know."
Donald Trump has become Paul Ryan with orange hair. How did it happen?