Republican Senators Are Just Hopelessly Corrupt
Writing for the NY Times today, Ezra Klein noted that it isn't a news story that "Almost everybody in the Senate hates what the body has become... You will never hear more searing denunciations than you do from the insiders themselves. They may disagree on what’s wrong, and how to fix it. But in my experience, no one, be it Republican or Democrat, staffer or elected, believes the body is working. It’s led to a wave of retirements, of attempts at reform..."
Klein asked author Adam Jentleson about why no Republicans are supporting Mitt Romney's plan to ease child poverty. "Republicans," he replied, "are well poised to take back majorities in both the House and Senate-- all they need is a handful of seats to do so. So they have every rational, political incentive to block Biden from achieving any victories. A program that would cut child poverty massively would be a huge victory for Biden. And the ability for Biden to pass it on a bipartisan basis would be a huge victory for his campaign promise to restore bipartisanship and unity. Republicans collectively don’t want to see President Biden standing at a signing ceremony with Mitt Romney, signing a bill that is going to massively slash child poverty. That’s not good for their political interests and their desire to take back their majority in the 2022 midterms. So you have [Marco] Rubio and [Mike] Lee and all these others who supposedly care about this issue coming out and shooting it down right away."
Does anyone care about the American people? America? Or is it all about partisan power-mongering? You already probably know the answer-- although I have to say there are some senators I've spoken with over the years who do put people first-- Bernie, Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren... that's about it. Michelle Goldberg made the point in her Times column yesterday that Impeachment Offers Republicans Grace. They Don’t Want It. That's a real problem for our country going forward, a seemingly insolvable problem. Even when the fascists supporting Trump went threatening to-- literally and explicitly-- "destroy the GOP," the senators were too frightened of their bases to do what they no doubt would have done in a secret ballot... the same way House Republicans voted to keep Liz Cheney in her leadership job in a secret ballot, though never would have in a roll call.
Because of the unlikelihood of Trump being convicted, it often seems as if this second impeachment trial is being conducted for the public, and for history. The managers took a chaotic, traumatic day and turned it into a coherent narrative, crosscutting between the rampage and the actions of the president who inspired it.
...Several Republican senators were eager participants in Trump’s big lie. It took Mitch McConnell, who was then the Senate majority leader, more than a month after the election was called to admit that Joe Biden won. Others held out longer. Just two hours before the Capitol was breached, Senator Josh Hawley was captured raising his fist in solemn solidarity with the crowd who’d answered Trump’s call to converge on Washington for a “wild” protest. Even after the rampage in the Capitol, Hawley was one of eight senators who voted to reject some states’ Electoral College votes.
Several House Republicans seem even more culpable in whipping up the assault. On a Dec. 29 livestream video, Ali Alexander, one of the leaders of the Stop the Steal movement, described collaborating with the Republican congressmen Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs.
“We’re the four guys who came up with a Jan. 6 event,” he said, adding that it was meant to changes the minds of members of Congress who “saw everyone outside and said, ‘I can’t be on the other side of that mob.’” (Brooks, who spoke at the rally, and Biggs, who blamed antifa for some of the mayhem, have denied working with Alexander.) As The Intercept’s Ryan Grim reported, Gosar said, at an Arizona rally promoting the Jan. 6 demonstration: “You get to sit and go back home once we conquer the Hill. Donald Trump is returned to being president.” [Little know fact: Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama participated in a coup planning session at Trump's private residence the night before the coup attempt.]
It’s easy enough to understand why the impeachment managers are working so hard to separate Trump from the Republican Party: They still hold out hope of persuading some Republican jurors.
“When they played that clip, for example, of the insurrectionists chanting against the G.O.P., it was a powerful way to make the point that these people don’t represent you, senators, they represent Donald Trump and how disruptive an influence he’s been,” said Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor on Trump’s first impeachment trial.
If Republicans were ready to move on from Trump, the impeachment managers would be giving them a gift. By convicting him, Republicans could, after reaping four years of rewards for their complicity, wash their hands of a leader many are said to privately disdain. Those who want to run for president themselves could clear the decks of a competitor. And, of course, they could ratify the narrative that Trump was aberrant, and that they bear no responsibility for his attempt to overthrow the democracy they purport to revere.
Last month the NY Times reported that McConnell was pleased about this impeachment, believing Trump deserved it and that it would make it easier to purge him from the party. House managers sometimes seem to be speaking directly to him.
Yet because much of the G.O.P.’s base appears to sympathize with the insurgents, the Republican jurors can’t accept what Democrats are offering. According to a new survey by a project of the American Enterprise Institute, 66 percent of Republicans believe that Biden’s victory was illegitimate. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans agree with the statement, “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”
Some of those who disapprove of violence are captive to conspiracy theories about the Capitol riot: Fully half of Republicans say antifa was behind it. McConnell, likely sensing where his party is, has already voted that the current impeachment is unconstitutional.
On Thursday, House impeachment managers played a video montage of Republican officials and ex-Trump staff members denouncing Trump for doing exactly what he’s being impeached for. “The fact that these flames of hate and insurrection were lit by the president of the United States will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont.
Republican senators are being given the opportunity to get on the right side of that history, to distance themselves from a disgrace that they must know their descendants will someday read about. They’re being given a chance to rewrite the shameful history of how the Republican Party has behaved for the last four years.
They will almost certainly not take it. For rhetorical purposes, the Democrats waging this quixotic battle for accountability have to pretend that the Republican Party is redeemable. The rest of us do not.
I have a feeling that it isn't going to be over impeachment that the GOP will be brought down, but over the obstruction of Biden's COVID-relief package. Support for it is overwhelming and conservative congressional opposition is unrelenting. Those two facts are going to collide and could have some dire consequences for swing district Republicans. This YouGov polling came out this morning: