On the EDge: When the bully fails at the bully pulpit

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — The bully pulpit is of little use when the bully at the pulpit is so ineffectual that he cannot even influence his home camp.

That’s what happened when the Dealmaker in Chief tried to rush a heavily flawed health care bill through the House last week and ended up with no sale.

This was a serious blow.

It leaves the administration vulnerable because of its inability to govern and knocks the pins out from under the guy who promised rapid, radical changes during the first 100 days of his administration because he had the best ideas and was the best negotiator who could make the best deals to overcome all the bad things the losers who came before him left on his plate.

But, who is the loser now?

This latest failure of the administration was perhaps its worst.

The losses began with the succession of failed executive orders banning those of Muslim faith from entering the country. Even on its second try, the administration couldn’t convince the courts that its aim was to protect the country from terrorism and not make religion a litmus test for entry into the United States.

There is, lingering in the not-too-distant background, the shadow of a failed campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it.

Then there was the embarrassment of the president getting caught in a lie by insisting, repeatedly, that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. He opened that can of worms and, from what we are learning, it appears that perhaps the telephone lines at Trump Tower should have been tapped as a growing number of Trump minions are getting swept up in the net as more is learned about the administration’s ties to Russia.

Friday was another bad day for the administration when a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was pulled from the House floor because it lacked the votes.

Naturally, the first response from the White House was an accusation of obstruction by the Democrats.

The truth is there are enough Republicans in the House to pass the bill without one crossover vote from the Democrats.

If the Dealmaker in Chief was as good as he claims, that bill should have been a slam dunk, the ACA would be history and a bill that would have repealed key elements of the ACA such as coverage for emergency-room visits and hospital stays, mental health care, maternity care, preventive care and prescription drug coverage would be sitting on the president’s desk awaiting a signature.

But, it isn’t.

And, most likely, it never will during this weakening administration.

For Utahns, that is good news.

Whether you like it or not, the jury is in on the ACA and more and more people are signing on to the program in Utah – even in the most conservative pockets of the state – as they are in other red-state strongholds.


Because it works and because people want to live.

For all of the bluster and fuss party loyalists put forth, when push comes to shove, they want to cover their backsides regardless of party affiliation. And, that ludicrous notion pushed forward by Don Peay, who headed the Trump campaign in Utah, that suggested those who voted against the president should repent? Yeah, well, good luck with that.


Because as one commentator put it, the first 68 days of this administration are the worst in the history of the presidency.

It begins with the inability to understand how to govern and ends with a credibility gap unhinged by the veracity of an administration that has, so far, been caught on the wrong side of truth, not once, not twice but repeatedly.

When he was Businessman Trump, it really didn’t matter.

When he was Candidate Trump, it mattered, but there was the hope that voters would do their due diligence to seek the truth, which they did not.

But, as President Trump, well, that’s a different matter entirely.

As president, he represents you, me and every other living, breathing soul with U.S. citizenship.

And, that matters.

As has been pointed out repeatedly, what happens if North Korea goes totally rogue and launches a nuke in an easterly direction?

Will Americans believe him?

Will the rest of the free world believe him?

That becomes problematic when the sitting president has a history of lies spewed on Twitter, during rallies in front of rapacious supporters or uttered during speeches or press briefings.

The whoppers?

These are just a random sampling:

  • He created the so-called “birther movement,” a campaign to discredit former President Barack Obama by asserting he was not born in the United States
  • He claimed 1.5 million people crowded the National Mall – all the way back to the Washington Monument – during his inauguration.
  • He claimed the FBI and NSA told Congress that the Russians did not influence the election.
  • He claimed Germany owes “vast sums of money to NATO.”
  • He claimed that The New York Times “wrote about Barack Obama wiretapping Donald Trump” during the election, which it did not.
  • He claimed that the murder rate in the U.S. is the highest it has been in 47 years.
  • He claimed terrorism and terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have “gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.”

There are other assertions that have absolutely no basis in fact, from the claims of massive voter fraud and a landslide win in the Electoral College to the falsehood that triple-digit increases in ACA coverage this year were commonplace, even though only Arizona, at 116 percent, hit that level with the next closest increase in Oklahoma, where there was a 69 percent increase. He also conveniently neglected to include the information that about 84 percent of those who faced increases in ACA coverage were eligible for tax credits to soften the blow.

The problem is there is this thing called the illusory truth effect.

Studies at Villanova and Temple universities back in the 1970s showed that the more times a lie is repeated, the more veracity it takes on, even among intelligent people.

And these days with the advent of false news sites cropping up to challenge the legitimate media, truth is a diminishing commodity.

Still, there is hope that somewhere along the line, people are able to connect enough of the dots to separate the credible from the incredible.

I fully expect to hear a backwash of “well, everybody lies.”

Yes, everybody lies.

But not of this magnitude.

It becomes an imperative, especially when you consider the words of Donald Trump during an interview with Time magazine bureau chief Michael Scherer last week where he said: “’Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

That, of course, depends on your point of view.

And, your relationship with the truth.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Not_So_Much March 28, 2017 at 7:10 am

    RINOs and you know it.

  • Utahguns March 28, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Does the author care to be balanced in his reporting and compare Trumps failure to Obama’s numerous failures?
    Obviously not.

    These are but a few of Obama’s failures…
    * How Obama Handled Climate Change
    * 55% of Americans Disapproved of Obama’s Job Performance
    * The majority of Americans think U.S. was headed in Wrong Direction
    * How Obama Handled the Economy
    * How Obama Handled U.S./Iran Relations and Wanted Congress to Reject Iran Deal
    * How Obama Handled Foreign Affairs
    * Americans Blame Iraq On Obama Almost as Much as Bush
    * Most Americans did not want to close Gitmo
    * How Obama Handled Health Care. It was FORCED upon the public.
    * How Obama Handled Terrorism. Miserable failure here.
    * Obama has completely failed in the immigration policies of America and refused to follow immigration laws.
    * How Obama Handled Gun Policy
    * How Obama Handled ISIS. The U.S. Military response to ISIS was definitely not aggressive enough
    * The majority of Americans believe Obama divided Blacks and Whites more than any president. of the two previous administrations.

    Trump has only been in office for several months. At least he’s attempting to fix the problems and failures of the two previous administrations.
    How well did you do in your first three months of your first real job?

    • Bender March 28, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Just like the ex that can’t stop obsessing over the girl that dumped him, utahgun just can’t let go of that obama-clinton hate. It gnaws on him like a peptic ulcer. Listening to AM radio, watchin’ Fox News, and surfin’ Breitbart and Free Republic get’s him all hot and bothered and itchin’ to exercise his 2nd amendment.

      I’ll tell you what’s bothern’ me, utahgun; I’m getting sick and tired of all of this Trump winning. It’s exhausting.

      • Utahguns March 28, 2017 at 7:36 pm

        “I’ll tell you what’s bothern’ me, utahgun; I’m getting sick and tired of all of this Trump winning.”

        Well, get used to the “winning”.
        It’s not our fault you haven’t won at anything. Go remodel your home with a new set of chrome rims…

  • Utahguns March 28, 2017 at 9:06 am

    I should also give Obama credit for his number of ground breaking “firsts”

    First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner.
    First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in.
    First President to preside over a cut to the credit rating of the United States .
    First President to violate the War Powers Act.
    First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico .
    First President to defy a Federal Judges court order to cease implementing the Health Care Reform Law.
    First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party. Obamacare
    First President to spend a trillion dollars on shovel-ready jobs and later admit there was no such thing as shovel-ready jobs.
    First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.
    First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.
    First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S. , including those with criminal convictions.
    First President to demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.
    First President to terminate Americas ability to put a man in space.
    First President to encourage racial discrimination and intimidation at polling places.
    First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present.
    First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.
    First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly speak-out on the reasons for their rate increases.
    First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state they are allowed to locate a factory.
    First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (Az, WI, OH, IN)
    First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.
    First President to fire an inspector general of Ameri-corps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case.
    First President to appoint 45 Czars to replace elected officials in his office.
    First President to golf 73 separate times in his first two and a half years in office.
    First President to hide his medical, educational and travel records.
    First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it.
    First President to coddle American enemies while alienating Americas allies.
    First President to publicly bow to Americas enemies while refusing to salute the U.S. Flag.
    First President to go on multiple global apology tours.
    First President to go on 17 lavish vacations, including date nights and Wednesday evening White House parties for his friends, paid forby the taxpayer.
    First President to refuse to wear the U.S. Flag lapel pin.
    First President to have 22 personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife.
    First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000.00 a year at taxpayer expense.
    First President to repeat “the Holy Qur’an tells us,” and openly admit “the early morning call of the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth.”

    Remember that in eight years of Obama White House we the people have accumulated national debt at a rate more than 31 times as fast as during the rest of our nation’s entire history.

    • eddantes56 March 28, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Hear! Hear! Good on you for pointing out these “firsts”. Obama really was a colossal failure

    • comments March 29, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      And in 4 years we’ll have a list of failures of ‘the donald’. It may be much worse.

  • dogmatic March 28, 2017 at 9:12 am

    “…I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” — Barack Obama

    “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” — Barack

    “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” — Barack Obama

    “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” — Barack Obama

    “I mean, if you think about — if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” — Barack Obama makes the case for socialized medicine in a rather odd fashion

    “I am not in favor of concealed weapons. I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations.” — Barack Obama

    “I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manfuacturer’s lobby.” — Barack Obama

  • dogmatic March 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Quotes by Nancy Pelosi
    This could be your next president if democrats have there way.

    “I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels. It’s cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels.”

    “We have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market profits taxes could go a long ways to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have for Americans

  • Caveat_Emptor March 28, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Ed for bringing this subject up in such a “hostile” environment for critical thinking. Your op-ed reminded me of something written for the Park Record, which is meant as a compliment.
    If a majority of Utah voters are truly happy with the Trump administration, as published recently by the SL Tribune, then you/we are fighting an uphill battle……..
    2016’s Election can be reflected on as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Like her, or not, at least Hilary Clinton had an intellectual grasp of the complexity of running the United States, and spent the time to understand the policy implications of each branch of government. “Change” was unlikely to happen during her term, as she was caretaking the Obama legacy.

    The good news is that this administration will ultimately overturn numerous job-killing regulations dictated by Federal/Executive overreach, including the Clean Power Plan, and unrealistic CAFE targets. The energy market will determine the mix of fuels used to generate electricity going forward, and coal will continue to lose favor on pure economic grounds. If consumers want to drive less fuel-efficient automobiles, then that is their right.

    Many of us wondered how on earth Silvio Berlusconi could have risen to the top in Italy…….

    • Henry March 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks for a good laugh, Caveat_Emptor. Connecting Ed Kociela with critical thinking is like equating Miley Cyrus with class.

      BTW, you shouldn’t have wondered how Silvio Berlusconi rose to the top in Italy. It was the same way that Hillary Clinton rose to the top of the Democratic Party – a machiavellian personality, political manipulation, and financial fraud.

  • Proud Rebel March 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Hey Ed! I take it you don’t much care for President Trump! Well guess what my friend, neither do I. Nor can I understand why the GOP couldn’t find anybody other than a nut case, to run for president.
    OTOH, in a choice between a nutcase, or a proven lying manipulative person who had no concern for her country, only herself, I think we are better off with the nut case!
    Also, your statement of “everybody lies,” is guess what, A LIE. No Ed, not everyone lies. There are some people who would rather cut their tongues out, than to deliberately tell a lie.
    I should note here that there is a huge difference between deliberately lying, and being so misinformed that you run around spouting stuff you have been told, or seen on line, that is totally false.
    You had your say.
    I’ve had my say.
    I’ll buy you a cup when I see you!

  • commonsense March 28, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Trump has already accomplished more than Obama’s failed 8 years prior. Wall Street loves him. Manufacturing, construction, energy, business and really the entire economy is already ignited.
    Americans feel safer knowing Trump has their security as priority one. Police and military feel empowered. His approval has increased 10% in Utah since inauguration.

    All this production despite Soros and Dems efforts at obstruction, illegal leaks, surveillance on Trump team before and after the election and the Russian BS, recounts, electoral interference, orchestrated protests, Senate boycotts. Still no complete cabinet.

    Dems are scared. If they really thought Trump was bound to fail, they would let it happen.
    Dems have lost over 1000 elected positions at the National, State and local level in just eight years.

  • comments March 28, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of the illegals. I think we got ’em for the long haul. I think the donald may be a failure for the country.

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