- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s Sunday, April 2, and Rep. Jim Jordan is performing a remarkably balanced, nuanced political high-wire act. The Ohio Republican is going to bat for his House Freedom Caucus buddies on Jake Tapper’s Sunday bash-Republicans show on CNN.

This puts Mr. Jordan smack in the middle of the battle between President Trump’s tweeted threats to annihilate dozens of House conservatives for their recalcitrance on Ryancare and the caucus members’ reminder that they are his real friends and that his maneuvering on health care makes it look like the Washington establishment has swallowed him whole.


Mr. Jordan and some 30 other Freedom Caucus members stand for a “keep your campaign promises” brand of GOP conservatism. Candidate Trump convinced millions of voters that was his brand, too. He later said he brought it with him to the Oval Office.

Yet someone in the White House persuaded Mr. Trump in recent days to attack the Freedom Caucus for opposing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s health care bill.

Mr. Trump proceeded to target the Freedom Caucus as a whole and four members by name: Rep. Mr. Jordan; Justin Amash of Michigan; Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho; and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the Freedom Caucus chairman.

With the Trump Twitter attacks firmly in mind, Mr. Tapper on Sunday kept trying to induce Mr. Jordan to take a least one retaliatory swing at the president by name.

Instead, Mr. Jordan never once criticized Mr. Trump by name — or Mr. Ryan for that matter. Mr. Jordan did call the Ryancare bill a foul, as he has any times before. Mr. Jordan also batted out his own threat — to personally defended Mr. Amash if he got primaried as a result of Mr. Trump’s call to Republicans to rid him of the meddlesome Freedom Caucus members and of Mr. Amash in particular.

Mr. Trump’s 140-character attacks began on March 30, at 9:07 a.m., when the president tweeted this:

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Democrats, in 2018.”

Five hours later, at at 2:27 p.m., Mr. Labrador tweeted Mr. Trump this reminder:

“Freedom Caucus stood with you when others ran. Remember who your real friends are. We’re trying to help you succeed.”

Three hours later, at 5:20 p.m., Mr. Trump started naming names, tweeting:

“If Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts in reform.”

Exactly a minute passed before Mr. Trump tweeted: “Where are Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador? Repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Two days later, at 12:33 p.m. on April 1, Mr. Trump had White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino trash-tweet this threat to Mr. Amash:

Donald Trump is bringing auto plants & jobs to Michigan. Justin Amash is a big liability. Trump Train, defeat him in primary.”

Didn’t that incense Mr. Jordan enough for him to take a verbal poke at the president, right there in front of Mr. Tapper’s TV viewers?.

Not quite. “Justin Amash is a good friend and one of the most principled members of Congress,” Mr. Jordan simply told Mr. Tapper. “And frankly, if he is primaried, I’m going to do everything I can to help him. But what concerns me more than this primary threat is keeping our word with the American people.”

Mr. Jordan was saying in effect, repeal Obamacare means repeal Obamacare, not amend Section A. That’s what voters thought Mr. Trump was saying to when they sent him to the White House.


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