Trump’s Art of Distraction

Did anyone else notice what happened last week in Washington in just two days? In case you missed it, the following took place in a mere 48 hours…

First, the US House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R.1215, also known as the “Protecting Access to Care Act”. The bill caps medical malpractice lawsuits by restricting plaintiff non-economic damages to $250,000. Juries may not be informed of this limitation. This is expected to dramatically reduce jury awards for “non-economic damages” (aka pain and suffering, punitive damages, and others) which has been seen as the primary factor in dramatic increases in medical malpractice insurance rates in recent years. The bill passed narrowly, with 218 yeas and 210 nays, mostly along party lines.

Then, the US House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R.3003, also known as "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act", that would strip federal dollars from self-proclaimed "sanctuary" cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. The bill passed with a 257-167 vote, also mostly along party lines.

Then, the US House of Representatives passed another bill, H.R.3004, also known as “Kate’s Law”, which would increase the penalties that may be imposed on criminal aliens convicted of illegal re-entering the US after being deported. The bill was a seen as a response to the brutal murder of Kate Steinle, who was shot by alleged shooter Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez – an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions. The bill passed with a vote of 257 to 157, also mostly along party lines.

Lastly, the White House announced they will seek to overturn the Obama administration’s five-year plan forbidding oil and gas exploration in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and will examine opportunities to drill almost anywhere off the U.S. coast. Vincent DeVito, the Dept. of the Interior’s counselor for energy policy, said a 45-day comment period will start Monday with a request for public comment in the Federal Register. After that time, and further due consideration, a final decision will be made. You may recall that on his way out of office in January, President Barack Obama banned offshore drilling in both ocean areas – this policy change will override that. Most environmentalist groups are up in arms about this.

These are four developments are generally seen as extremely unpopular with most of the left in this country, and extremely popular with most of the right, and would ordinarily generate much outrage in the mainstream media.

You did not hear about this? You missed that outrage? Well, that is understandable since almost all of the news coverage in the next few days was thoroughly dominated by one of President Trump’s tweets (related to the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski), and the controversy surrounding it.   Until his CNN-wrestling tweet grabbed all the attention.

Now, I do not know if Mr. Trump sought to make this tweet as a distraction for these legislative and policy achievements deliberately, or it was just a coincidence - only Mr. Trump knows for sure (and remember what Emma Bull said: “Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys”). But if he did this as part of a larger design, then he is demonstrating a mastery of the adversarial media that we have not seen in a long time.

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