Opinion writer

* Republicans have done a great job setting the agenda for the 2018 elections:

With one hasty and excruciatingly narrow vote, House Republicans have all but guaranteed that health care will be one of the most pivotal issues shaping the next two election cycles — including congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races in the 2018 midterms and President Trump’s likely reelection bid in 2020.

Just as Democrats were forced to defend Obamacare in the 2010 midterms — the result was a coast-to-coast drubbing that President Barack Obama called a “shellacking” — Republicans this time will be in the hot seat.

GOP members of Congress will be asked to defend their votes for a bill that could strip insurance from 24 million Americans and jack up premiums and deductibles for the country’s sickest and oldest citizens.

Governors, gubernatorial candidates and state legislators, meanwhile, will be asked whether they intend to “opt out” of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that are overwhelmingly popular with voters, as is permitted under the Republican plan. Their plans for state Medicaid programs also will be scrutinized if massive GOP cuts to Medicaid funding are realized.

To be clear, Republicans thought that the alternative — not passing any repeal bill — would be even worse for them politically. We can never know for sure, but I don’t think they’re going to be happy with how things work out for them.

* Yet another Trump nominee has withdrawn after their repellent views came to light:

The Trump administration’s Army secretary nominee withdrew from consideration Friday, a senior defense official said, amid mounting opposition to past comments he made about Islam, evolution and gender issues.

Mark E. Green, a Republican state lawmaker in Tennessee and veteran of the Iraq War, blamed “false and misleading attacks against him,” in a statement provided to NBC News. The Pentagon and the White House had no immediate reaction to the move, but it came hours after a Defense Department spokesman declined to say whether Defense Secretary Jim Mattis still supported him for the job.

The decision was announced after a month of growing calls for the Trump administration to choose someone else for the job. Advocacy groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people immediately launched an effort on Capitol Hill to block his nomination after it was announced April 7, saying his history of antagonism toward them made him an unacceptable choice.

It’s so weird that people with hateful ideas seem to congregate around Trump. How can we explain it?

* Vann Newkirk explains the connection between Republican views about health care and the prosperity gospel, according to which wealth is a sign of virtue and God’s favor.

* Erik Wemple investigates the memo that went out to an FDA facility explaining that all their televisions will now be tuned to Fox News.

* Glenn Kessler takes apart House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s claim that no one would lose their Medicaid in the Republican health care bill, slapping it with three Pinocchios.

* Andy Slavitt marvels at the disconnection between Republican views on health care and what happens in the real world.

* Maggie Fox gives a good explanation of what this whole pre-existing conditions issue is all about, and how real lives are at stake.

* In case you thought, “Well, no governor would actually try to let insurers raise rates on those with pre-existing conditions,” guess what: Scott Walker is already saying he’ll consider it, and that other Republicans would probably follow.

* Max Ehrenfreund explains how some of the places where Trump got the strongest support would be disproportionately hurt by the Republican health care bill.

* At The Week, I mapped out the strategy Democrats could use to take their revenge for what Republicans are doing to health care.

* Sarah Posner reports that religious right leaders are divided on whether President Trump is really coming through for them.

* And Jennifer Bendery reports that Sen. Bill Cassidy — a Republican — says that the replacement for Obamacare must pass the “Jimmy Kimmel test.” This means it would provide everything a baby born with a heart defect needs even if his father isn’t a rich and famous TV star.