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Doris Kearns Goodwin Puts Trump's Health Care Defeat In Historical Perspective

Last week's failure to pass a health care reform bill was a major blow to Donald Trump's young presidency. Author Doris Kearns Goodwin (@DorisKGoodwin) puts the setback into historical perspective with Here & Now's Robin Young.

Interview Highlights

On the Republican health care bill's defeat

"I think there's no question that it is a huge problem that's been created for this young presidency of President Trump. The whole idea when a person becomes president is, 'What are your priorities?' And I remember [former Speaker of the House] Tip O'Neill said something, 'You gotta dance with the person you brought to the dance,' and what I would have assumed would have been the first priority of business would have been infrastructure and possibly tax cuts. The infrastructure could have gotten the Democrats aboard, the tax cut might have been a bargaining thing, which is what the Republicans really wanted. But by going for this crazy, difficult, complicated problem first — without knowing you had your own party behind you — I think it's just gonna cast a shadow on everything else."

On historical precedence for the bill's defeat, and Trump's presidency

"I think we've never had in history before a president who had absolutely no political experience, or military experience. So, that it worked during that campaign because he ran a brilliant campaign in some ways, reaching out to people who felt left behind by the Democratic party, but then the difference between campaigning and governing is so huge. The fact that President Trump didn't stop doing his tweets, which allowed him during the campaign to get a lot of coverage, and he loved them. But then the negative tweets I think just took and sucked up the news, even in these last weeks we were talking much more about wiretapping and Russia much more than that very health care bill that should have been the priority of all the messaging for the last few weeks.

"... I'm sure that there have been times in history that have been worse than this. In fact, I was on a plane the other day and I was telling a woman, who was so concerned about the whole anxiety and fear today, and I said, 'Oh look, it was much worse in the 1850s. I mean the obstructionism of the people in the South versus what was going on in the North, and they brought guns into the Senate chamber, and the guy from the South hit the Massachusetts senator over the head with a cane.' And she said, 'Yeah, but that ended up in the Civil War with 600,000 dead,' so I said, 'Oh I better think of a better example.'" ...

Read entire article at WBUR