Is The Republican Party About Anything? I Mean, Other Than Trump?
Mo Brooks: "Trump Has No Loyalty To Anyone Or Anything But Himself"
Remember a few days ago we saw how minor Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate-- and goober-- Ryan Kelley had been arrested by the FBI for his role on the J-6 insurrection and attempted coup? After the 2 front runners were disqualified for thousands of forged petition signatures on their ballot petitions, Kelley had already crept into first place among the bottom the barrel candidates left in the race, according to a Target Insyght poll.
Now that it has sunk in among Republican voters that Kelley took part in a violent attempt to overthrow the government, he has actually solidified his lead, boosting his name recognition and favorability among Republican primary voters. Aside from taking the number one slot, Kelley also has the highest total favorability and name recognition among the Republican gubernatorial contenders.
That says more about the Republican base than it does about Kelley or even Trump. Mo Brooks is probably dealing with this himself right now. After being endorsed and noisily unendorsed by Trump-- despite his prominent role in the coup-- he came in second-- distant second-- in the Alabama primary and is preparing to lose the runoff next Tuesday. Trump endorsed his establishment opponent, Katie Britt. Yesterday AL.com columnist Kyle Whitmire noted that in 2016 Brooks, a notorious liar himself, had said that the dishonorable, adulterous, foul-mouthed Trump couldn't be trusted. At the time, Brooks said that "It is only a little bit of an exaggeration to say that Donald Trump has taken virtually every position-- liberal, moderate, conservative or otherwise-- on every public policy issue that exists. Nobody knows what Donald Trump would do with any degree of certainty because Donald Trump is all over the map on every issue... I’m quite confident that a lot of voters are enamored by the personality and entertainment nature of the Donald Trump campaign, and I am firmly convinced that 12-18 months from now, when the reality of a Donald Trump vote sets in, a very large segment of Donald Trump voters will be very angry at what their candidate is doing and be very regretful of voting for Donald Trump... I will not publicly support, or endorse with my reputation, someone who I know to have such huge character flaws and who is dishonest. I only endorse candidates who I believe are superior for a particular reason. So if Donald Trump is our nominee, I will sit back, watch and learn." Brooks did learn-- to lie even more than he has in the past. He turned himself into a complete Trump toady.
"Six years later," wrote Whitmire, "he's learned that lesson the hard way, having carried the former president’s MAGA agenda to the brink of insurrection and being unceremoniously dumped when he wouldn’t or couldn’t take it any further. 'It’s quite clear that Donald Trump has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself,' Brooks told me this week." Personally, I care more about the "anything" than the "anyone."
Is that sour grapes or simply a fact?
Brooks was once Trump’s loudest and fiercest advocate. How that bromance ended says something important. It might be more than Trump and Brooks going their separate ways. The MAGA movement itself seems to be coming apart.
...Trumpism is fading.
His endorsement of Brooks did no good, so he withdrew it.
Now Trump has endorsed Brooks’ opponent, Katie Britt, whom Brooks has tried to frame as a lobbyist and lapdog for Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
Again, it’s clear why-- Britt had a strong lead going into the runoff and has performed well in the polls since the primary.
Brooks has since said Trump has been lost to the swamp, conned by the D.C. creatures, including McConnell, whom he once opposed.
But something more important is happening here: Trump and Trumpism might be at odds. It’s happened elsewhere and it’s happened here before when Trump could not convince Trump fans to back Luther Strange for Senate nor Roy Moore after Strange lost the GOP primary.
I asked Mo Brooks what he made of Trump’s final pick. He didn’t hold back. Trump is still chasing voters after too many losses, he said.
“Donald Trump just had his head handed to him by Georgia voters, having lost five major races that he endorsed in, and he’s trying to restore his brand,” Brooks said on Tuesday. “And he looked at who he thought had the best chance of winning and that’s who he endorsed. It had nothing to do with philosophy of government other than that, he abandoned the conservative movement and the MAGA agenda in order to try to improve the reputation of his brand.”
Like Strange, Britt is an establishment candidate. She has experience in Washington and the backing of elites. Their super PACs have given her the air support and ubiquitous billboards she needed to rise to the top.
Brooks challenged Britt to a debate, which is his right to do, but regrettably no longer a custom in Alabama politics. He branded himself “MAGA Mo Brooks,” which he is duly entitled to do — he was, after all, the first representative to push Congress to overturn the 2020 election.
On Twitter, Brooks said he had just two questions for Britt: Was the election stolen and did Trump really win?
“I say ‘yes’ to both,” Brooks said. “Katie can accept or reject this debate challenge publicly on any of her social media.”
Britt’s campaign has declined the challenge and said Brooks wants a circus.
I called Britt to ask her directly. Regardless of Brooks’ intent, these are important questions and voters deserve to know what she thinks. She said she’d already answered Brooks’ questions.
“I think I’ve answered it numerous times, actually, so I’m happy to get that to you,” she said. “I’ve answered it probably 30 times. So I’ll get that to you.”
Britt said she would have her spokesman send me her answer. I asked her if she had answered it so often already why she couldn’t just do it over the phone. There was a long pause.
“OK, well, I will get Sean (Ross, her spokesman) and I will get right back to you,” she said.
Ross later emailed me a statement.
“Katie has nothing new to add to her extensive comments throughout the campaign on this topic,” he said, adding a link to this story.
The Trump legacy is one official after another sacrificing their careers and destroying their reputations, none having learned from the example set by the last person who did the exact same thing.
Like Brooks last November, Trump hasn’t been quite sure what to do in Alabama. But he needs a win, because another loss, like in Georgia, could cause people nationally to go back to the old question: Are Republican voters following Trump or is Trump following the voters?
By changing his endorsement, he gave us an answer.
He’s following the crowd, not the other way around. He and Britt both are hoping you don’t notice.
They’re tiptoeing away from the circus and leaving Brooks to break down the tent.
A couple of words about J. Michael Luttig, a very conservative retired retired judge. who worked in the Reagan administration vetting judicial candidates for right-wing ideological purity before clerking for Antonin Scalia. George H.W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1991 where he was a mini-Scalia... far to the right of the mainstream. He resigned in 2006 to take a cush job as general counsel for Boeing, which paid close to $3 million a year.
In his testimony for the select committee today, he seemed to agree with Brooks' assessment of Trump: "A stake was driven through the heart of American democracy on January 6, 2021, and our democracy today is on a knife’s edge. America was at war on that fateful day, but not against a foreign power. She was at war against herself. We Americans were at war with each other-- over our democracy. January 6 was but the next, foreseeable battle in a war that had been raging in America for years, though that day was the most consequential battle of that war even to date. In fact, January 6 was a separate war unto itself, a war for America’s democracy, a war irresponsibly instigated and prosecuted by the former president, his political party allies, and his supporters. Both wars are raging to this day... The war on democracy instigated by the former president and his political party allies on January 6 was the natural and foreseeable culmination of the war for America. It was the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost, so that he could cling to power that the American People had decided to confer upon his successor, the next president of the United States instead. Knowing full well that he had lost the 2020 presidential election, the former president and his allies and supporters falsely claimed and proclaimed to the nation that he had won the election, and then he and they set about to overturn the election that he and they knew the former president had lost. The treacherous plan was no less ambitious than to steal America’s democracy. Called to Washington D.C. that day by the president, the president himself, and the president’s followers, supporters, and allies gathered near The White House for a 'Stop the Steal' rally. The president maintained at that rally that the 2020 presidential election had been 'fraudulently stolen' from him. The president addressed his faithful followers thus: 'We’re going to the Capitol... We’re going to try and give them [the Republicans in the Congress, presumably] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country... We will never give up. We will never concede.'"
"Inflamed," continued Luttig, "the gathered mob marched up the hill from The White House to the United States Capitol to protest, disrupt and prevent the counting of the electoral votes for the presidency, which the president falsely charged were wrongly about to be counted by the Congress in his political opponent’s winning favor and in his own losing favor. Once staged at the Capitol, the mob soon erected gallows on the United States Capitol grounds, chanting that Vice President Mike Pence should be hanged. Hanged, the mob chanted, for 'cowardly' refusing the president’s lawless entreaties that his Vice President declare their president reelected, against the will of the American People, though he had lost both the Electoral College and the popular vote for the presidency... The former president’s party cynically and embarrassingly rationalizes January 6 as having been something between hallowed, legitimate public discourse and a visitors tour of the Capitol that got out of hand. January 6, of course, was neither, and the former president and his party know that. It was not legitimate public discourse by any definition. Nor was it a civics tour of the Capitol Building-- though that day proved to be an eye-opening civics lesson for all Americans."
Public polling of the midterms indicate that most Americans-- and virtually all Republicans-- slept through that civics lesson or, in any case, learned nothing whatsoever from it. Too many still see the Democrats as the greater evil!