Wounded Ryan faces new battle

A wounded Paul RyanPaul RyanPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender GOP lawmaker calls for select committee on Russia Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate MORE is facing another potential crisis over the next month.

The Speaker, who saw his years-long effort to repeal ­ObamaCare collapse last week after a rebellion on the right, must come up with a plan to fund the federal government and avert a shutdown.

The Wisconsin Republican will face many of the same tricky intraparty dynamics as he tries to keep the government running.

Funding expires in about a month, on April 28, but the House is taking a two-week recess in mid-April, leaving negotiators just a few legislative work weeks to reach a deal.

The stakes are extremely high for the GOP. A government shutdown, similar to the one orchestrated by Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWhat are ‘religious liberty’ bills really about? Fiorina calls for special prosecutor for Russia probe Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013 MORE (R-Texas) and his House allies in 2013, would confirm what many Democrats and political pundits are already saying: Republicans, despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, simply can’t govern.


Two of the biggest hurdles to keeping the government’s lights on are conservatives’ insistence that the spending package include billions for President Trump’s border wall and that it block all federal dollars for Planned Parenthood.

Trump has requested $1.5 billion in supplemental funding for what he’s called his “big, beautiful wall,” plus another $2.6 billion in his 2018 budget request.

But Senate Democrats have threatened to filibuster the must-pass spending bill if it includes money for a wall, sparking a shutdown standoff over one of the president’s chief campaign promises. On top of that, some Republicans from border states — including Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate Dems: Border wall is a budget ‘poison pill’ Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Former congressman indicted on conspiracy charges MORE (Texas), Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn McCainGOP lawmaker calls for select committee on Russia ‘Morning Joe’ co-host: We got into Trump’s head Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight MORE (Ariz.) and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeWounded Ryan faces new battle Overnight Tech: High court hears case on where patent suits are filed | House to vote on blocking internet privacy rules | Facebook’s new tools for voters House to vote Tuesday on blocking Obama internet privacy rules MORE (Ariz.) — are highly skeptical of Trump’s wall, citing concerns about the price tag and private-property rights.

A trio of House Republicans who represent border districts — Reps. Martha McSally (Ariz.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Will Hurd (Texas) — also have been wary of Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The Speaker earlier this year called constructing the wall “urgent” and a national security necessity. But recognizing the high 60-vote threshold in the Senate, Ryan will be under enormous pressure to send over a House bill with zero or limited wall funding. 

“The border wall should be talked about, shouldn’t be rammed down people’s throats,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSenate seen as starting point for Trump’s infrastructure plan Dems wait for GOP olive branch after ObamaCare debacle How Obama’s White House weaponized media against Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“It’s got a big problem that Republicans in border states are opposing — Texas, Arizona — because there’s eminent domain, so you have to take private land. … My prediction: It wouldn’t get the votes on either the Democratic or Republican side.”

The archconservative House Freedom Caucus scuttled the ­ObamaCare repeal legislation on Friday after Trump and Ryan refused to cave to the group’s demands. The defeat of the bill prompted an aggressive round of GOP finger-pointing. 

Trump tweeted that the Freedom Caucus, along with conservative allies Club for Growth and Heritage Action, “saved Planned Parenthood and Ocare” since defunding the women’s health services provider had been included in the bill. Rep. Ted PoeTed PoeSecond GOP lawmaker mulls leaving Freedom Caucus Wounded Ryan faces new battle Can Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? MORE (R-Texas) resigned from the Freedom Caucus. “Saying no is easy. Leading is hard,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trump directed his Twitter followers to tune in to Jeanine Pirro’s show on Fox News shortly before the conservative host launched a broadside against Ryan, calling on him to resign as Speaker. Trump’s top aides said the president still has Ryan’s back and had no idea Pirro was going to rip the Speaker.

For now, calls for Ryan’s ouster don’t appear to be resonating with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who successfully forced then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate Nunes rebuffs calls for recusal MORE (R-Ohio) into an early retirement in 2015, insisted there are “no conversations” about removing Ryan — a sentiment echoed by some of Meadows’s conservative colleagues. 

“Paul Ryan did the best he could under the circumstances to bring together a variety of different viewpoints and backgrounds of 230-some-odd Republican congressmen,” Rep. Mo BrooksMo BrooksPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Freedom Caucus member tries to force ObamaCare repeal vote Wounded Ryan faces new battle MORE (R-Ala.) said last week as the health insurance effort crumbled. 

“I think that Paul Ryan did a very good job as Speaker of the House, considering the difficulty of the issue and the variety of the opinions that are reflected in the Republican conference,” Brooks added.

The Freedom Caucus, which has about three dozen members, has not taken a formal position on Trump’s border wall. But the group has shown a willingness to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, just as it threatened to do in a game of brinkmanship with BoehnerJohn BoehnerPaul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender Matt Schlapp: 5 lessons Trump, Ryan must learn from healthcare debate Nunes rebuffs calls for recusal MORE in September 2015.

Rather than go along with the group’s demands, Boehner said he would resign the following month. Then he struck a two-year deal with then-President Obama that raised the debt limit and set higher spending levels — an agreement that was meant to “clean the barn” and make things easier for his successor, Ryan.

Now it’s Ryan’s turn to reach a funding deal.

With the spectacular failure of the ­ObamaCare repeal bill, the Freedom Caucus will almost certainly insist the funding bill include a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. But Ryan and GOP leaders, while supportive of that provision, also are keenly aware such a bill can’t pass the Senate.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong declined to comment on specific provisions that could be included in the funding bill. But White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday refused to say that Trump would demand the defunding provision be included in the funding bill, an apparent acknowledgement of the difficulty of passing it through the upper chamber. 

“I don’t want to get ahead of our legislative strategy,” Spicer said.

One senior GOP appropriator said Monday that it’s time for the party to demonstrate it can handle the basic responsibilities of governing.

“To me, we ought to focus on things we know we can do and we have to do. We haven’t finished the ’17 appropriations bill. We’re halfway through the ’18 fiscal year. So, I mean, we need to get that done,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” 

“We need to think about things like getting a realistic budget done, doing a debt ceiling vote, which I think will probably have to be bipartisan.”

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), said his outside conservative group has not taken any positions on whether the border wall or Planned Parenthood defunding should be included in the spending bill.

Instead, he said AFP is urging Congress to return to a regular-order budget process that will help drive down spending. 

“For a decade now, we’ve had a catch-all budget process, which is not healthy for the country and not healthy for restraining spending,” Phillips said in a phone interview.

“We need to get away from careening from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. I don’t think anyone wants a shutdown,” he added. “We want to see Congress get back to a regular-order budget. That offers the best opportunity to regaining fiscal discipline.”

Cristina Marcos contributed.


The mystery of Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump is a mystery, even to some people working with her in the White House.

The first daughter, who will soon occupy a second-floor office in the West Wing, has been at the epicenter of her father’s White House and played high-profile roles in several recent visits with foreign leaders.

But she’s also taken a hands-off approach on major legislative issues such as healthcare — to the dismay of Republicans and Democrats alike. 

It’s been a frustration to some working at the White House.

“No one really knows what she does exactly,” said one West Wing insider.

Ivanka Trump has the kind of unparalleled access to the president that comes from being his elder daughter.


A successful businesswoman in her own right, she gave her father a well-received nominating speech at last summer’s Republican National Convention. And she has filled in for first lady Melania Trump at important moments, such as when the president made an unannounced trip in February to Dover Air Force Base to honor a fallen Navy SEAL.

Democrats had hoped the socially liberal New Yorker would be a moderating force on President Trump on issues such as climate change and healthcare.

Instead, Ivanka Trump has appeared to carefully pick which moments to influence her father, at times remaining unabashedly passive.

As President Trump fought for the GOP’s ­ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation last week, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were skiing in Colorado, something that reportedly irritated the president.

Friends of Ivanka Trump say it was ridiculous to think she’d constantly be battling her father over policies he championed during the campaign.

“The idea that she can change every single thing that critics view is wrong is incredibly unfair,” said one friend. “She spent her life as an entrepreneur, and she has an opportunity here to empower women in a real way.”

But Ivanka Trump has come under criticism from people who say she should be making better use of her position.

In a highly circulated opinion essay for Cosmopolitan magazine, Republican strategist Amanda Carpenter, who once served as Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzFiorina calls for special prosecutor for Russia probe Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013 Texas Democrat to challenge Cruz: report MORE’s (R-Texas) communications director, railed: “What’s she doing exactly? Nobody knows. What qualifies her? Apparently being the president’s daughter.” 

“There’s a word for this: nepotism,” Carpenter wrote. “And it makes everything Ivanka has done up to this point to position herself as an example for working women into a farce. By taking this role, Ivanka is taking away a life-changing opportunity from another woman, who undoubtedly would have more expertise than the first daughter.” 

From the left, Ivanka Trump has also come under fierce criticism from the leader of Planned Parenthood, who argued her silence on healthcare proposals was “deafening.”

“It’s time for Ivanka to … stand for women,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told BuzzFeed.

The White House and friends of the first daughter are pushing back at the criticism, which they say is unfair.

A White House official suggested Ivanka Trump will continue to pick her battles by advocating “for these issues she’s been passionate about her entire life.” 

The first daughter will be focused on the economic empowerment of women, workforce development, paid maternity leave and efforts to rid the world of human trafficking, the official said. 

Asked what Ivanka Trump is hoping to achieve, the White House official said, “I think she’s in the process of determining what the deliverables are on these issues, but … she considers it an honor to have this platform and couldn’t do any of this without the president’s commitments to these same issues.”

Within the White House, Ivanka Trump can be a sounding board for her father. She’s also a trusted confidante able to be a calming influence.

Trump “was always more calm and centered when she was around,” one senior campaign adviser said.

Allies say those disappointed with Ivanka Trump were expecting her to play a larger role than she ever anticipated.

“She’s being held to a standard that makes no sense,” the friend added. “It’s totally unrealistic. … She’s not going to be able to change the core ideas her father campaigned on.”

Unlike Kushner — who is expected to be a central figure in the White House and advised the president against moving forward first with healthcare reform — Ivanka Trump is just doing what she finds interesting, the former Trump adviser said. “She’s not looking to be a major player.”

Ivanka Trump stepped down from a position at her fashion company ahead of her father’s inauguration in January and has made it a priority to get her family situated in Washington. 

She was by her father’s side last month when he toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. She has sat in the front row of his press conferences alongside political strategist Stephen Bannon and other top White House officials. 

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to the White House, she sat beside him at an event on women in business. She later posted a picture on Instagram with her father and Trudeau as she sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

And behind the scenes, Ivanka Trump continues to offer the president advice.

“Ivanka shares her perspective candidly and privately, as anyone in her situation would do,” the friend said.


A trade war is brewing inside the White House between rival camps

Soon after President Trump took office, an executive order was quietly drafted to suspend talks with China on an obscure but potentially far-reaching treaty about bilateral investment.

After eight years and two dozen rounds of negotiations, the treaty terms were almost in final form. Pulling out after so much time and effort would send a clear message that the Trump administration meant to take a new and tougher approach to China.

But the executive order never even got to the president’s desk. It was quietly shelved, according to sources inside and outside the White House, at the behest of former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, now Trump’s top economic advisor.

Killing the order was a small victory for a White House faction that supports free trade and the global economy. But it was only an opening skirmish in what promises to be a long and bitter struggle over trade policy that so far is being waged behind the scenes in the Trump administration.

“Making it go away would be devastating,” she said, noting that the uncertainty has prompted companies in her area to put their Mexico expansion plans on ice.

No one can say at the moment which of the two White House camps has the upper hand — the Wall Street wing or the economic nationalist wing, as AFL-CIO economist Thea Lee describes them.

So analysts are forced to sift the tea leaves for signs of what the future may bring.

For example, although Cohn is known to have Trump’s ear, the president, in one incident last month, stepped in and openly defended Navarro when he and Cohn clashed over a series of trade ideas. Cohn and Navarro declined to comment, and White House spokespeople would say only that both men are “valued members of the president’s economic team.”

The president’s proposed budget, however, suggests that departments such as Commerce may be gearing up to be much more active on trade enforcement than trade promotion.

What’s more, analysts point out that upending the status quo on trade was a signature campaign promise and a key plank in Trump’s economic platform to boost growth and jobs, particularly for his blue-collar and rural base in industrial states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio that catapulted him to victory.

“He’s got to deliver on that stuff,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s trade program.

She noted that Trump has been remarkably consistent over the years in his claims that other countries take advantage of the U.S.. And his appointment of Navarro and others suggests the president has “staffed up for change,” Wallach said.

At the same time, Trump did not keep his promise to label China a currency manipulator as soon as he took office. In fact, for all of Trump’s China bashing during the campaign — accusing it of dumping goods and robbing the U.S. of intellectual property and many jobs — the president has been unusually silent on China since taking office.

Nor has he offered anything about trade with Japan, which Trump has been critical of since the 1980s.

Trump did withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as he said he would do, but the 12-nation deal was already moribund by the time he settled in his Oval Office desk. And although Trump also renewed his vow to overhaul NAFTA, the White House has yet to provide the required 90 days’ notice to open up the agreement.

One substantive sign of where the administration may be headed will come on April 15, when Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, must decide whether to formally label China, or any other nation, a currency manipulator.

Neither Obama nor President George W. Bush ever did so, even when Beijing clearly held down its currency value to support its exporters. Bush and Obama worried about embarrassing the Chinese and souring bilateral relations.

More recently, China has made an effort to let the yuan float more freely, and if there is any manipulation it has been to prop it up against free-market forces that have devalued the currency.

Mnuchin has not shown his hand. Hard-liners against free trade took encouragement after Mnuchin, at the Group of 20 finance ministers’ meeting in Germany this month, declined to sign off on language disavowing protectionism in the group’s communique.

Still, many analysts are betting that Mnuchin, a banker, Hollywood producer and another Goldman Sachs alumnus, will side with Cohn in not wanting to rock the boat.


Follow me at @dleelatimes


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Is Bondi White House-bound? Speculation follows meeting with Trump and NFL greats

Pam Bondi is pictured. | AP Photo

“I am working on some special projects with the White House,” Bondi told POLITICO Florida without elaborating. | AP Photo

In a sign she might be bound for the White House, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi made a special Monday trip to meet with President Donald Trump and two Cabinet secretaries to talk about children’s issues with fellow Floridians and former football greats Tony Dungy and Derrick Brooks in tow.

Bondi’s visit, which included meetings with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, gave a small indication that she’s testing the waters for an as-yet-unnamed job in Trump’s White House before her term expires in 2019.

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Saying she’s happy with her work in Florida, however, Bondi would not discuss her next move — despite months of speculation about whether or when she would leave.

“I am working on some special projects with the White House,” Bondi told POLITICO Florida without elaborating.

As part of that new project, Bondi brought Dungy (a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers football coach who has become a kids-rights crusader), Brooks (a former Florida State University and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Hall of Fame linebacker who co-founded a Florida charter school) and All Pro Dads activist Mark Merrill “to talk about children’s issues” with DeVos and Carson, who also live in Florida. In between meetings, they dropped by the White House and snapped a picture with President Trump.

So has Bondi shared with the White House what she wants to do next? Perhaps. But those who know her well aren’t sure what she wants to do.

“I don’t ask her because I don’t want to be the one to be blamed for leaking it,” said one Republican familiar with the way Bondi thinks. “If she takes a job in DC, I hope she knows what she’s getting into.”

Though Brooks runs a charter school, and Bondi and DeVos support school choice programs, Bondi said they didn’t discuss that topic.

“Coach Dungy and Derrick Brooks are incredible role models for children and make such a difference for Florida’s children,” Bondi said. “They have shared these positive experiences with the White House.”

Still, many expect the Trump administration could or should push a tax-credit school-choice program — first tested in Florida — if Congress decides to redo the tax code. Sen. Marco Rubio has a bill ready to do just that. Florida school-choice activist John Kirtley, a driving force behind Florida’s voucher and tax-credit programs, said the time to get Congress to act is now.

“A tax reform bill could be a good vehicle, as it wouldn’t take any funds from existing educational programs,” Kirtley said. “I hope that the administration and Congress looks to Florida’s tax credit scholarship program as a model for something at the Federal level.”


What George W. Bush Can Teach Trump About the Press

A White House under siege. A president considered underqualified for the job, distrusted by global elites. An administration that has branded a harshly critical media as unpatriotic and rooting for America to fail. This was the George W. Bush administration in its final years, when its long, hard slog against the U.S. press reached its peak. I was working as a White House speechwriter then, part of the team that was frustrated and angered by relentless negative coverage—so much so that some of us branded the press as the enemy, and shut them out completely.

This was a mistake.

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Today, I’m watching the Trump administration go down that same road—dismissing press criticism, calling the media the “enemy of the American people,” and taking solace in a glowing counter-narrative of their own making. Trust me, I understand the impulse. But I’ve also seen where this road leads. And while the ride seems enjoyable, the car still ends up in the ditch.

Let’s start with what should be an obvious observation. Trump is justified in having a beef— insert Trump steak joke here—with the media. Throughout the 2016 campaign, our nation’s most esteemed and seasoned reporters and pundits, intentionally or unintentionally, did mislead the American people time and time again. The reason Trump’s constant “rehash” of his victory seems to bug so many reporters is the primary reason Trump does it: because his election triumph made them look foolish, close-minded, arrogant and wrong.

I spent a few hours over the last week scanning YouTube to watch Election Night coverage on various news networks. Most striking were the similarities—regardless of the channel. For the first two hours or so, informed by the same wretched exit polls, our nation’s top newscasters and analysts all but forecast a Clinton victory. As the evening went on, and actual returns in places like Virginia and Florida were not living up to expectations, the tide turned toward the possibility of a Trump shocker. (A prospect that no one seemed to delight in.) Every single newscast expressed the same confident assertions as inviolable truths: Trump had to win Florida (in fact, he would have won without it); Georgia was on a knife’s edge (Trump won by 5 points, far better than Clinton did in, say, Minnesota); Pennsylvania would go Democrat (it didn’t); a “surge” of Hispanics and African Americans was bad news for Trump (he likely did better with both groups than Mitt Romney); the blue wall foreclosed realistic Trump paths to victory (he had more paths than Clinton did all night). No panelist or reporter I saw ever corrected these falsely uttered “facts,” of course. To Trump supporters, in light of a news media righteously indignant over every Trumpian exaggeration or misstatement, this was, and remains, understandably galling.

Since his election, the TrumpWorld grievances have mounted: the mistake in reporting that Trump quickly removed Martin Luther King Jr.’s bust from the Oval Office, the AP “factchecking” Trump’s opinion—an opinion that millions of Americans shared, by the way—that he inherited “a mess” from Obama. (One doubts any major media outlet factchecked Obama’s similar gripes against George W. Bush.) The prosecutorial zeal on any meetings anyone ever connected to Trump may have had with anyone linked to anything to do with Russia. And so on.

Which bring us to the second point—the press might not be the president’s friend, but he should not brand them as the enemy. Most reporters almost certainly voted against him; their tweets attacking everything he says and does can be grating—as even media watchdogs have contended. But summarily dismissing media criticism will backfire. Just look at what happened to Bush.

With the Iraq War being branded a “quagmire,” Russia on the march in Georgia, and the global economy on the verge of total collapse, Bush had enormous problems with which to grapple. And while many reporters are now, as is their habit, lauding him with praise when he no longer is in office, most were vicious toward him when he was in power. He was branded a racist over the perceived lack of response for Hurricane Katrina; he and his aides were called war criminals over the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib; he was being blamed for the housing crisis that contributed to the 2007-2008 economic collapse; he was criticized for his “feeble” response to Russia and mocked for having once claimed to have seen Vladimir Putin’s soul.

Sentiments inside the Bush administration toward the media hardened. Under fire from all directions on nearly every issue, the attitude was both human and understandable: These guys are biased against us; there’s no point in engaging them. Certain networks no longer appeared on many White House office TV screens. Administration officials tended to veer toward more friendly, or at least sympathetic, networks and outlets. That was not in and of itself a terrible strategy—especially in the current era in which there are far more alternatives than ever.

But, in the end, this solution only added to the problem. Because even if the Bush administration no longer cared what, for example, the New York Times was reporting, their allies in Congress, their constituents, their foreign allies and the rest of the outside world did care. (And the administration actually did, too.) Hiding from the mainstream press might have made us feel good, but it didn’t lessen its impact. And, because we’d given up trying to persuade many of these reporters, our side had a harder time coming through.

One case in point was Vice President Dick Cheney, who was one of the few administration officials who for the most part truly did not care what reporters said about him. Although he had many capable and talented press aides, the effect of the vice president’s disinterest in courting skeptical reporters and responding to every press attack was the creation of a caricature of him as a Steve Bannon of yesteryear—a mythical and mysterious shadow president who had a dictatorial bent, shady private interests, and didn’t care about the business of the American people. Cheney was none of those things, as reporting years later has begun to show. But that impression did cause damage to him and the administration.

The worst, and most consequential, result of the tune-out of the mainstream media was that many of us started to discount criticism altogether. The argument is dangerously seductive: If the media is so biased against us, therefore everything they report, and everything people on their programs say, is also biased and untrue. Cloistered in a world in which bad news is filtered out and good news is always sought created a false perspective that did more damage to us than the media ever did.

We demanded a focus on the “good” things happening in Afghanistan and Iraq, gradually discounting the bombings, violence, disorganization and chaos underway. For some time, we doubled down on strategies that didn’t seem to work because we decided they were working, just not being reported fairly or accurately. It was only when the president turned to the advice that had been freely offered in the media for years—specifically on the need for a new approach and a “surge” of forces in Iraq—did things begin to improve there.

As the economy veered toward catastrophe, the president would go out and speak in an effort to reassure the markets … and the Dow would collapse 300 or 400 points each time. As with Iraq, for some time we didn’t think that maybe there was a problem with our message or that critics may have had valid points. Instead, we sent the poor guy out again and again to say the same thing, with the same results. It was only when the administration brought all sides together, including some of its sharpest critics, did a consensus for dealing with the disaster emerge.

If Republicans were hostile to the media back then—and in some cases for good reason—it’s far worse now. One of the main reasons Trump won the presidency was because he effectively channeled conservatives’ anger and disdain at media coverage of their beliefs and positions—and the media’s growing tendency to see the world from the elite confines of America’s coasts. Indeed, a recent study showed that 91 percent of coverage of the Trump administration has been negative. But that doesn’t mean the media is irrelevant, or can be ignored. Instead there needs to be an even more aggressive effort to challenge, respond and, where possible, find ways to see each other’s perspectives more accurately.

The danger and lesson for the Trump administration is clear: In a media environment where everything the president says and does is grist for his many media critics, and many reporters are demonstrating a clear, well let’s just say, zeal to confront and expose any perceived missteps, the temptation to shun and ignore all criticism is very strong. But doing so will only leave the administration defenseless from attacks and increasingly tone deaf to the legitimate concerns media outlets often bring to the fore.

For a time, the administration seemed to be going in the wrong direction last week on Obamacare repeal. One can almost hear Bush-era echoes in the strategy: “Everyone in the media says we will fail; fine, we’ll ignore them and go forward anyway.” Fortunately for them, they pulled back.

The aftermath of the repeal failure presents an opportunity to learn from this, and take heed of the generous offering of criticism the media puts forward every day (some of it occasionally even coming from people trying to help). If history is any guide, listening to critics, or at least being open to them, will prove far more valuable than pretending they don’t exist.

Matt Latimer is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He is currently a co-partner in Javelin, a literary agency and communications firm based in Alexandria, and contributing editor at Politico Magazine.