Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from this weekend, on the polls, Peter Watt and Stormont politics

1. Latest ICM poll shows little impact from Hoon-Hewitt

At UK Polling Report, Anthony Wells analyses the latest ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll results, which he says may have come too soon to give an accurate measure of fallout from the Hoon/Hewitt plot.

2. Ulster puritanism caught with its pants down

The recent difficulties faced by Iris Robinson and Gerry Adams have provided a puritanical scandal, says Michael White, blogging at the Guardian.

3. Tennant: I want the cleverest person in the room as PM, not someone who looks good in a suit

The Timelord is not your usual political commentator. Nonetheless, Alex Smith at Labour List tells us, the ex-Doctor Who star David Tennant has expressed his support for Gordon Brown. Will others from the arts follow suit?

4. How will the Tories use the Watt claims?

Mike Smithson at Political Betting speculates on how the media will respond to Peter Watt's revelations -- which diverted attention from fresh criticism of Brown by Geoff Hoon.

5. Revealed: the Lib-Con pact election poster

Stephen Tall posts an election poster from more than 50 years ago on Liberal Democrat Voice.

 

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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.