Ironically, as Republicans refuse to distance themselves from Trump's egregious behavior, scandals and ethical shortcomings, he repays them — by creating the perfect soundbite for Democratic ads in 2018.
The House GOP threw the American Health Care Act together with little regard to its impact on ordinary Americans and was willing to slash health care for the poor and middle class while shoveling tax cuts into the coffers of the richest Americans. Trump insisted they pass something and then threw a celebration in the Rose Garden. So much for that.
Trump, of course, cares not even a tiny bit about substance — and we have yet to see him demonstrate even a rudimentary knowledge of what is in the bill. Having made a bargain with a policy know-nothing who lacks any interest in anything but his own winning, Republicans now find themselves excoriated for the very same reason Democrats lambasted the bill.
We have observed frequently that Trump's rotten character and flightiness makes legislation nearly impossible. Ryan made precisely the opposite bet, namely that Trump's character and intellectual deficits hardly mattered because he could help Republicans get what they wanted. In fact, Trump's defects make it nearly impossible for Ryan to achieve his aims. Republicans now wind up with the worst of all worlds. They are getting virtually none of their big-ticket legislative items through. Republicans who voted for the AHCA dud will get clobbered for passing a "mean bill." They are shackled to a president whose disapproval in the Gallup poll hit 60 percent on Tuesday. And to top it off, Republicans' slavish loyalty to Trump will be cited as evidence they are unserious about acting as a check on the president and fulfilling their constitutional oversight responsibilities.
Those in the #NeverTrump camp saw exactly this situation as the inevitable outcome of the GOP's Faustian bargain with Trump. If they lose the House in 2018 and then the White House in 2020, perhaps some soul searching and creative destruction on the right can lead to a functional, respectable center-right party that demands experienced leaders with a moral core.