The Republican agenda is stuck in neutral in part because of the tendency by Beltway Republicans and some conservatives to play by the rules established by the media and progressives, the flouting of which were a contributing factor in Donald Trump’s electoral victories.
The health-care fiasco, though not foreordained, was eminently predictable once Republicans essentially adopted the premise of the media and Democrats that government should control health-insurance markets and insure that everyone is covered. And once that premise was internalized, single-payer became a more likely outcome than repeal.
Then there’s Russia. Despite considerable hyperventilation, to this point there remains no evidence of “collusion,” a term that is as conveniently malleable as it is nebulous. Some allegedly sentient beings have even suggested that Trump’s conduct is treasonous. But until Robert Mueller uncovers something considerably more substantive, proponents of the “nothingburger” argument will have the advantage over the hyperventilators.
Nonetheless, the media and much of official Washington have worked themselves into a frenzy over “Russia.” This includes much of the Republican establishment that has reacted in a way they did not and would not over matters at least as troubling and for which there is far more evidence.
These Republicans appear more “troubled” by Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians than with Bill Clinton receiving $500,000 from a firm with demonstrable ties to the Kremlin — all while Hillary Clinton was still secretary of state; they’ve wrung their hands more strenuously over the e-mail chain released by Trump Jr. than over the 33,000 e-mails deleted by Hillary Clinton; they’ve expressed “concern” about the optics of the meeting but apparently were fine with the visual of the Clinton Foundation raking in millions of dollars from Russians while the Clinton State Department approved a transaction giving Russia control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves. (in contrast, there’s no evidence that in the Trump Jr. meeting the Russians even got anything as consequential as the location of Moose and Squirrel. And Obama’s IRS had more impact on American elections than Natalia Veselnitskaya.)