- Oh, Mitch McConnell you sweet summer child.
- You thought you could please Trump’s base by acquitting him and also please your donors by blasting him.
- Now Trump is slamming Mitch and promising to back primary rivals to GOP establishment candidates.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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In his attempt to both keep the GOP voter base happy and keep the GOP donor class happy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit former President Trump for inciting the January 6 riots. Then he blasted Trump for his behavior in a speech following the vote.
This is called having your cake and eating it too. Historically, this never works, especially not with someone like Donald Trump. In a statement on Tuesday, Trump fired back at McConnell, calling the Kentucky Republican a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack.” The now-private citizen vowed to support Trumpy primary opponents against GOP establishment candidates who sided with McConnell. In other words, this means war.
This might have been the most obvious turn of events in American politics. Donald Trump has a history of viciously turning on people who fall even a little bit out of line. You’re either with him 100% or you’re an enemy. He turned on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, as ethically he was bound to do.
And then there’s Michael Cohen, Trump’s most loyal adviser and attorney. When Cohen got in legal trouble for paying adult actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her affair with Trump, Trump tried to destroy Cohen.
Yet with all this history, McConnell thought that he could deviate from Trump’s line – blasting him for inciting the January 6 riots, while still allowing Trump to keep the spectre of another presidential run hanging over the GOP. This was supposed to keep the hardcore Trump voters excited and on the Republican bandwagon while letting the donor class know the GOP hasn’t completely lost its mind. But that doesn’t work for Trump.
I mean, just look at this Mean Girls stuff:
—Carrie Budoff Brown (@cbudoffbrown) February 16, 2021
For a minute there, I lost myself.
Trump is vindictive, but he is also lazy. So it’s quite possible that McConnell could’ve saved himself a lot of heartache if he had just voted to convict Trump and barred him from running for office in the future. Trump may have found the work of politics too taxing without the prospect of another stint in the White House.
But no, like any coward, it appears McConnell wanted someone – anyone– to take care of the GOP’s Trump problem but him.
Now, even if Trump doesn’t run for President in 2024, the mere prospect of him running gives him sway over the party. It will excite the base. He’ll hold rallies. He’ll be a kingmaker. And, most important for him of all, he’ll raise lots of money that could be going to the GOP and their actual candidates instead.
McConnell’s caucus has got to be despondent. Trump just raised a lot of money, and to the extent that he can’t use it on himself, he will use it to cause pain to people he dislikes. Menwhile, the Senate has a number of presidential hopefuls waiting in the wings, and the prospect of having to choose sides in a war between winning back the suburban voters who abandoned the party in droves or driving out the Trump base is not great for their chances at the White House.
Because remember, Donald Trump is a loser. He lost the 2020 presidential election by 6 million votes. He contributed to the loss of not one but two GOP Senate seats in the state of Georgia making McConnell the Minority – not Majority – Leader of the Senate.
And as the GOP decides whether or not it has more respect for Rep. Liz Cheney, or conspiracy theory addled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, President Biden is presenting his agenda to the American people and speeding up our national coronavirus vaccination program more and more every day.
Mitch McConnell and the GOP are really going to need that donor money now.