Trump's Latest Tweet Is Roundly Criticized
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
As a presidential candidate Donald Trump promised he would be so presidential, you will be so bored. Now he is president, and people are not so bored. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is defending the president's choice to attack a TV host as, quote, "low IQ and bleeding from plastic surgery."
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: People on that show have personally attacked me many times. This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites within the media or Hollywood or anywhere else.
INSKEEP: It's the punctuation mark on a week that seemed like it would be about substantive issues like health insurance. Jonah Goldberg is with us to try to make sense of it, if possible. He's senior editor at National Review. Hi, Jonah.
JONAH GOLDBERG: Hey. It's great to be here.
INSKEEP: Does this help the president - this series of tweets?
GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, I want to say how excited I am to be here on the last day of energy week.
INSKEEP: (Laughter) Energy week? Was this energy week?
GOLDBERG: This is energy week. Yeah.
INSKEEP: Oh, that's right because the White House has these themes...
GOLDBERG: That's right.
INSKEEP: ...Where they focus and hone their message.
GOLDBERG: Not since infrastructure week has the president been more disciplined.
GOLDBERG: So look. I think this week is sort of his presidency in miniature. He actually had a good Monday and sort of Tuesday. A lot of people in my conservative world were saying maybe he's starting to turn it around. This...
INSKEEP: The Supreme Court was partly with him for the moment on the travel ban.
GOLDBERG: Helped him on the travel ban. That was a policy win, which is pretty rare. Neil Gorsuch proved that he was the conservative that he was promised to be. And it looked like, you know, he hadn't tweeted anything crazy for a while. And then by the end of the week, you know, everything's sort of in smoldering shambles and - again, because Donald Trump's essentially lizard brain always takes over. And he does this ridiculous - what I really - I mean, forget - it's just basically unmanly, uncivil tweeting because he can't take not lashing out, not sort of giving his id free reign to destroy Tokyo.
INSKEEP: What do you think of Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying, well, he was being bullied by Mika Brzezinski, the MSNBC host?
GOLDBERG: I think it's sad. I mean, I really think it's sad. Look, I think a lot of the media is making too much of these individual tweets. Lots of journalists have been attacked by the president. I've been attacked by the president. And I just think it's - what it does is it encapsulates a larger problem, particularly the president's problems with civilian decorum and his ability to bend the White House to his will. The idea that all of these people have to talk like members of the Politburo, praising his incredible, manly strength and his - how this year's wheat harvests are going to be better than ever is sort of embarrassing to the country.
INSKEEP: And I have to note, according to surveys, the country, broadly speaking, is with your point of view here. Most people are telling pollsters that they find the Twitter feed embarrassing. But I do want to ask about the substance because you mentioned there was some substance this week or almost some substance.
There was a health insurance bill that the Senate was looking like it might vote on. That had to be delayed because, among other things, this is a very unpopular measure that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would cause many millions more people to be without health insurance. Is it sustainable for Republicans to keep pushing for a health bill that maybe 20 percent of the country likes?
GOLDBERG: As it stands right now, probably not. I'm actually - I think we're in a very strange place where both the Republicans and the Democrats are insisting that Obamacare is being repealed when it's not.
INSKEEP: Because it's the same basic form. It's a question of the substance.
GOLDBERG: It's maintaining the structure, right? It is a big change to Medicaid, which was sort of this other tacked-on thing to Obamacare. But look. One of the problems - and I think it's a real problem for the Republicans - is, unlike with the House version, which was tougher in a lot of ways, no one is defending this legislation.
And it's amazing just as a messaging thing. There's not a senator, there's not a member of the administration who's out there saying, here is what's good about this bill in any real way. There are a couple of policy wonks and nobody else. And that's a huge problem.
INSKEEP: Is it just that it was a desperate effort to try to round up 50 votes, and it didn't quite work?
GOLDBERG: I think Mitch McConnell really wanted to check a box and get this out of his life. And it shows.
INSKEEP: OK. Jonah, thanks very much as always for coming by.
GOLDBERG: Great to be here. Thank you.
INSKEEP: Jonah Goldberg - he's a senior editor at the National Review and a columnist with the LA Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.