The recent failure of a GOP-led Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare has caused something of a rift in unusual precincts. President Donald Trump has vocally criticized his Republican allies for failing to fulfill a long touted campaign promise, while GOP legislators have quietly noted a lack of leadership on this particular issue. With mid-term elections looming, however, perhaps it is most notable that the majority of Fox News thought leaders and prime time hosts appear to have taken a side in this looming GOP civil war, and it doesn’t look good for Republicans in Congress.
Given the “disaster” of failing to pass the much promised repeal and replacement — and with Democrats rendered inconsequential in the discussion (whether from incompetence, irresponsibility or political jujitsu) — the blame game is upon us.
President Trump has made clear that he will not own this failure, though no senators have yet publicly criticized the White House. Notably, however, are the Fox News thought leaders who have mostly walked lock step in coordination with Trump’s critique of Capitol Hill Republicans. To wit:
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer proclaimed it to be “a dismal day for Republicans,” on Fox & Friends, adding “This is an abandonment of the heart of what Republicans promised people for eight years, and not to be able to deliver on it.”
Primetime host Sean Hannity accused the GOP of fraud over its failure to repeal Obamacare, adding that “this is beyond pathetic.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned the loyalty of Republicans over the health care debacle. Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume agreed that it’s “politically nuts” to suggest that the Republicans will not get held accountable for failing to fulfill their promise.
Conservative alpha-thinker Charles Krauthammer notably proclaimed the health care debacle as “historic,” adding that “this is seven years of arguing gone down the drain, and I think we’re at the end of the road, at least in this phase.” To be fair, he did note also the lack of “presidential leadership” on the issue but only after calling the GOP’s inability to fulfill its process an “epic fail.”
We’ve noted many times the vast political power and influence that Fox News has over Trump’s base of support, which also happens to be the same set of voters of most interest to Republicans seeking reelection. And the biggest concern for either Trump or GOP candidates is if the conservative thought leaders on the top-rated cable news outlet were to suddenly become critical of either.
What’s missing from the examples above? Any serious critique directed toward President Trump, despite the fact that he ALSO repeatedly promised an immediate repeal and replacement of Obamacare in the most hyperbolic, simplistic and over-the-top manner imaginable. Which begs the obvious question: why does he get a pass on this? Maybe its just another example of the soft bigotry of low expectation.
Why is this so important? If this trend continues it could spell disastrous results for any Republican seeking reelection in 2018. If Fox News prime time hosts continue to rail on Republican Senators and Republicans, then that could very easily lead to torch and pitchfork-wielding crowds showing up at the ballot box, and not in the way that the GOP would like.
There is another, more nuanced, side to this looming dynamic. With a Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 General Election looming, and more circumstantial evidence that members of the Trump campaign were…let’s say “less unaware” than they previously claimed, President Trump can ill afford an inimical relationship with his own party (who ultimately control impeachment proceedings.)
But that is another column for another day.
Colby Hall is the Managing Editor of Mediaite and feels there is enough blame for everyone on health care reform. Follow him on Twitter @colbyhall.