Witcover: America's pre-existing health condition: Donald Trump

President Trump in a recent conversion now wants to make his Republicans "the party of health care." But first, he says, it must try again to kill Obamacare, a task the Republican Party has attempted repeatedly with no success.

Before attempting that effort, it would seem wise to come up with a plan to replace it, but the president has none, and now he says there's no rush. He should try to tell that, for openers, to millions who stand to lose not only Obamacare but also the private insurance plans that are threatened with extinction if the "Medicare For All" scheme some Democrats favor somehow becomes law.


Mr. Trump's vague promises about his "terrific," albeit unformulated, health care legislation, in which pre-existing conditions will supposedly be covered, has about as much chance of becoming reality as his dream of that wall on the southern border, paid for by Mexico.

Broaching the subject with his typical breezy flimflam manner was a remarkable political gift to the Democrats. They will relish fighting his phony late romance with what could be called Obamacare Light, if the details of his pledge ever come to light, which seems unlikely right now.


Seeking a special Trump version of Obamacare is another example of his flights into unreality that pass for serious governance in the new world of political imagination bearing his brand name. And yet there may be no limit to the hogwash his faithful flock is willing to buy.

What the country is seeing now in Mr. Trump is a cornered blunderer in unfamiliar terrain who lashes out in all directions to sustain the mirage of a working president. He senses cracks in the makeshift political wall he miraculously built of promises, lies and misrepresentations in his 2016 campaign.

The architect of that campaign continues to rely on the same formula, like a carnival barker touting what is behind his veil of self-aggrandizement, declaring "only I can fix" the nation's ills and "make America great again." More than two years into his presidency, his deceptions and gibberish posing as national leadership leave the federal establishment in disarray, with no recovery in sight.

Mr. Trump's health care charade befits his chaotic concept of governance that has this country lurching from one hapless direction to another at home and abroad. He is our national pre-existing condition, this corrupt real-estate tycoon from Manhattan, blindly stumbled into a job for which he had no real-world qualifications. He plays the role of president by ear from day to day and minute to minute.

Amid all the identifiable political and social challenges facing the United States in the early spring of 2019, none is more obvious now than how to cleanse itself of this disastrous president.

The best hope of achieving that end now is by constitutional means: impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, which currently seems politically far-fetched, or directly by the ballot box in November of 2020.

The nation appears imprisoned by that prospect as it heads toward a year and a half more of Mr. Trump's folly. Meanwhile it careens through arguably the most politically divisive and disruptive period in our long history since the Civil War that nearly destroyed itself almost a century and a half ago.

Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is