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How President Trump's surprise gift to '60 Minutes' completely backfired

(CNN)Shortly after President Donald Trump abruptly ended an interview with "60 Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany showed up with a massively large book in tow.

"Lesley, the President wanted me to deliver his health care plan," said McEnany. "It's a little heavy."
Except it wasn't Trump's health care plan. Because that, well, doesn't exist. Instead, according to the "60 Minutes" Twitter feed, the book was "filled with executive orders and congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive healthcare plan."

Which, yeah.

The oversized book that drastically under-delivers on its promised contents is, actually, a pretty apt metaphor for the entire Trump presidency.

You can be certain that McEnany (and Trump) knew that after he walked off the set, the cameras were still rolling. And so, they went for theatrics -- a huge book that purported to be the President's (non-existent) health care plan. They liked the visual of McEnany giving Stahl a huge and weighty book on camera. Didn't matter that the book didn't actually contain any sort of plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. People wouldn't care about that! They'd remember that massive book!

Unfortunately, Trump is right -- about at least some people, like his most ardent supporters: Look at how big that book is! Man, McEnany (and Trump) really stuck it to Stahl! Fake news!

But like so much with Trump, the show and the pageantry belie the emptiness of the actual vessel. A big book filled with executive orders is not a comprehensive health care plan. Because there is no plan.

This exchange with Stahl -- before Trump walked out of the interview -- is enlightening on that point:

Stahl: Okay, I'll ask you another health question, okay? Told you. Okay. You promised that there was going to be a new health package, a health care plan.

Trump: Yeah.

Stahl: You said that it was, "Going to be great," you said, "It's ready," "It's going to be ready"--

Trump: It will be.

Stahl: "It'll be here in two weeks." "It's going to be like nothing you've ever seen before." And of course we haven't seen it. So why didn't you develop a health plan?

Trump: It is developed, it is fully developed. It's going to be announced very soon--

Stahl: When?

Trump: When we see what happens with Obamacare.

Oh man! That plan will be here soon, then! (The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of the ACA the week after the November 3 election.)
Except that Trump has been insisting that a replacement plan for Obamacare is right around the corner for a very long time now. Here's a tweet from April 29, 2019 (bolding is mine):

"I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party. It will be on full display during the Election as a much better & less expensive alternative to ObamaCare..."

On July 19, Trump told "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace that "we're signing a health care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health care plan that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do."
On August 3, Trump said that "we're going to be introducing a tremendous health care plan sometime prior — hopefully, prior to the end of the month. It's just completed now."
Then there was this from McEnany on September 22:

"The President in the next week or so will be laying out his vision for health care. Some of that has already been put out there -- telemedicine and lowering the cost of drugs ... and protecting pre-existing conditions. But the President will be laying out some additional health care steps in the coming, I would say, two weeks."

As best as anyone has been able to tell, Trump's "plan" is really just a series of executive orders and pie-in-the-sky legislative notions. Which is not a comprehensive health care plan that could stand in for the ACA.

Any time Republicans in Congress have been asked about this so-called plan they have expressed varying levels of puzzlement.

Here's the thing: Passing a health care law through Congress is very, very hard. It's why so many presidents before Barack Obama failed in their attempts to do it -- and why passing the law cost congressional Democrats dearly at the ballot box in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. The details are what cause the problems, always. And so, Trump has avoided all of that by not offering any specifics or any plan at all.

But he does have that over-sized book! Filled with, well, not much.

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