Actors Charlie Sheen and Donald Trump are like twins separated at birth. Both became rich and famous – by hook in one case and by whatever in the other – each to his own mind born to win.
“You decide to win and you win,” said Sheen in a 2012 interview following his Vesuvian meltdown.
“We will have so much winning … that you may get bored with winning,” candidate Donald Trump said a few years later.
And so, it came to pass.
Trump’s big win came Thursday when the Republican-led House of Representatives, having voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare, finally mustered a squeak-by vote to pass the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare.
Afterward, the giddy crew bused over from Capitol Hill to the Rose Garden to celebrate their victory with Trump, the winner in chief.
“We don’t have to talk about this unbelievable victory – wasn’t it unbelievable? – so we don’t have to say it again,” the president said to the jubilant gathering.
Said Sheen of his own winning streak, “It’s a good start. … It puts me in the zone of winning. I win here, I win there … you are in it to win.”
For those who may have missed the Sheen “winning” streak and the meme that resulted, by all means pay a visit to YouTube. Sheen’s lax syntax isn’t much removed from Trump’s bewildering elocutions.
“Winning in what sense?” the interviewer asks Sheen.
Sheen: “Just winning. They can say that (I’m losing), but what kind of car are they driving?”
Trump: “How am I doing? Am I doing OK? I’m president. Hey, I’m president! Can you believe it?”
Winning, you see, is everything to people who see themselves as winners. In Trump’s case, it was always about winning the office, beating the others, and never about governance. Though he is a teetotaler and Sheen was a big mess, both measure their successes by the accumulation of material goods – grand houses, gorgeous women, cars, jets, boats and money.
Undergirding both temperaments, addictive in nature, is an impetuous grandiosity likely born of low self-esteem, which I infer from extensive study and interviews with several psychoanalysts, rather than personal accreditation.
“What we have is something very, very, incredibly well-crafted,” Trump boasted about a bill he undoubtedly hasn’t read and probably doesn’t understand. Not his job, he’d likely say. His job as the chief executive is to delegate, which is what Barack Obama did when he handed off health care reform to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Nearly every criticism Republicans hurled at Democrats at the time is boomeranging back the other way. When Pelosi famously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” Republicans guffawed and milked the phrase forever after. When House Republicans passed their replacement bill Thursday, some who voted for it admitted to not having read it.
When Trumpcare was brought to a vote before the independent Congressional Budget Office had time to evaluate it, Republicans responded: We have to pass the bill before we can know how much it costs – and maybe not even then.
Whatever small victory Republicans celebrated was premature and surely will be short-lived. Still in its infancy, Trumpcare faces a predictably slow Senate overhaul that could last months. Then follows the reconciliation process, which could delay things until the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats got shellacked in the 2010 midterms largely because of Obamacare. Remember those charming town hall meetings when the hollering hordes insisted that the government keep its hands off their Medicare?
Fast-forward and imagine the madness in 2018 when millions face losing their health care coverage – and even Republicans recognize that proposed health savings accounts are nitwittery. Almost six in 10 Americans don’t have $500 in savings, according to a January Bankrate report. Yet, Congress expects them to sock away up to $6,000 a year for future health costs? Pure fantasy, but what would one expect from a body of legislators, half of whom (as of 2014) were millionaires?
For Trump, winning is and always has been the endgame. It’s his identity, his mantra, his campaign promise, his aphrodisiac, his drug of choice, his raison d'etre. Passing Trumpcare was hasty and, by many accounts, ill-prepared – but the president’s winning narrative, the same that got him elected, got a needed, if temporary, boost.
And that, my friends, is what all the hooplas and huzzahs were all about.
Kathleen Parker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.