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Greatness is within Trump's reach

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has been losing so much he surely is tired of losing.

Yet another attempt at repealing Obamacare failed again last week. His candidate in Alabama lost a Senate primary. He walked away from his call for a private-public infrastructure plan. His lofty vision for tax reform is fast devolving into a budget-busting tax cut. He has made no progress on his border wall. At least two of his former aides are in big trouble in the Russia probe. He is mocked by the North Korean dictator as a dotard.

What to do?

Trump's first instinct is to deny reality. That's what he did last week when, after Luther Strange lost to Roy Moore in Alabama, Trump erased all his tweets in support of Strange -- a Soviet-style airbrushing. When the health care bill failed, he invented a narrative that it was because a GOP senator was in the hospital.

At the same time, Trump is retreating further into his information cocoon, safe from unwanted facts and contrary data points. Trump aide Stephen Miller has been helping to build this happy place for Trump. When the administration was debating a refugee cap, The New York Times reported recently, Miller intervened "to ensure that only the costs -- not any fiscal benefit -- of [admitting more refugees] were considered."

Alas, such solutions are imperfect, for they do not sway those Americans who still reside in reality-based communities. A better fix is needed. And, happily, the Trump administration has already happened on one: moving the goal posts.

Take, for example, the pesky goal of getting broadband service to more Americans. The Trump-era Federal Communications Commission has discovered that it is not on target to reach broadband access goals set in 2015. So, as The Washington Post's Brian Fung reports, the FCC is considering a solution: Lower the definition of broadband from 25 megabits per second to, say, 10. Instantly, millions of Americans would have "broadband" -- without internet speeds changing. Problem solved.

At the Federal Aviation Administration, likewise, an advisory panel has decided it's too hard for airlines to hit the requirement that pilots have 1,500 hours of training, so it wants to count classroom work toward that total rather than just flying experience. The industry gets more pilots, and the flying public can rest assured that if airline pilots no longer know enough about flying planes, they at least have read books on the subject. Problem solved.

The president seems to be warming to goal post shifting. On the eve of the latest Obamacare-repeal failure, he told reporters: "Eventually we'll win, whether it's now or later." A loss is just a victory that has not yet materialized.

Many such redefinitions are perfectly consistent with Trump's promises for deregulation and shrinking government.

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