Politico reported this morning that Trump Regime aides are largely unable to find jobs. No one want to hire a slightly used Nazi? What a surprise-- especially when you consider the calibre of person who was attracted to Trump and who attracted Trump. You wouldn't want Stephen Miller working for you? "Tainted by Trump’s reputation, several Trump aides described an increasingly bleak job market with virtually no chance of landing jobs in corporate America and some even having seen promising leads disappear after the rampage at the U.S. Capitol. A second former White House official said they knew of v'people who got jobs rescinded because of Jan. 6.' A Republican strategist was blunter. 'They are really fucked,' the strategist said, pointing to some top officials who stuck with Trump until the bitter end. 'The Hill scramble, one of the few places where they’d be welcomed, already happened a month or so ago… They were told over and over to take their hand off the hot stove, and they didn’t want to listen.' It’s not just the lower- and mid-level staffers getting pinched. Two people familiar with his thinking said Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who spent seven years in the House of Representatives before joining the White House, was even considering a position at the Trump Organization because of a lack of options."
It’s a far different reality from where Trump and his aides had envisioned they would be. A month ago, everything seemed crystal clear: He had lost the 2020 election but would soon launch a juggernaut campaign for the presidency in 2024, and his allies and inner circle would be there to help. Now, the former president’s team is scampering away-- willing to leave Washington, in some cases for red states like Texas and Florida, to increase their job prospects-- while his own second act is clouded by uncertainty.
I wonder how many will end up running for office. Probably very few, but this morning the My Pillow guy announced he may run for governor of Minnesota and-- as expected-- Mike Huckabee's daughter, former third-rate Trump press secretary, announced she's in the race for her daddy's old job as governor of Arkansas. Trump is expected to endorse her-- in a state that gave the NYC hustler a 684,872 (60.57%) win over former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton's 380,494 (33.65%). Four years later, even more Arkansans were part of the Trump movement. He beat Biden 760,647 (62.40%) to 423,932 (34.78%). Trump's biggest demographic-- no one polls for IQ-- was among white evangelicals (86%). Trump won all but 8 of Arkansas' 75 counties. In fact, Biden also became the first Democrat to win the presidency without tiny, rural Woodruff County (68% white), which Trump took with 62%. Obama won Woodruff with 51% in 2012 and 2008. Bill Clinton won the county with over 70% both times he ran and both Gore and Kerry won it with over 60%. Now it's part of Trump country. Aside from Trump, the only Republicans Woodruff had backed in the last century were George Wallace (1968) and Nixon (1972).
The NY Times reported that the qualities that could harm her in a battleground state in a general election-- her ties to Mr. Trump, and her loyalty to him-- are assets in Arkansas, where the president remains popular. In the [melodramatic] video announcing her candidacy just after 7 a.m., Ms. Sanders spent more time talking about Mr. Trump than she did about her father. She made clear her campaign would use the touchstones of Republican arguments in recent months, saying that she 'took on the media, the radical left and their cancel culture,' and that while she had been targeted by media outlets, she would 'never let them silence you.'... Private polling shows Ms. Sanders as the prohibitive favorite in the primary, which currently includes Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and the state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, according to a person who has seen the data."
If only there were more states as politically backward and bigoted as Arkansas! The out-of-work Trumpists would be doing just fine. Writing for the New York Journal of Books, Walter Clemens reviewed Adam Jentleson's new book, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, about how the Senate has made the U.S. government so dysfunctional... starting with how Mitch McConnell has perverted the filibuster.
The filibuster began the mid-1800s-- recall what was going on back then-- to serve "as a tool to empower a minority of white conservatives to override majority rule whenever they find themselves outnumbered. They have done so to preserve their power, their way of life, and the priorities of wealthy benefactors-- from the slaveholders of the past to conservative billionaires of today. The filibuster combines with Senate rules to prevent the upper house from voting on legislation that some Senators dislike. The leader of Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell, in recent years has exploited these tools to prevent the Senate from voting on progressive legislation such as Covid-19 relief funding."
But it was Jane Mayer at the New Yorker who really savaged McConnell this weekend, explaining why he dumped Trump. She began by noting that less than an hour before Trump's "violent mob broke into the Capitol, causing mayhem that led to the deaths of five Americans, McConnell... gave the most powerful speech of his life. In a cold disavowal of Trump’s false claims about rampant election fraud, McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, stood behind the Senate dais and stated the obvious: despite two months of increasingly malign lies from Trump, and from many of his supporters in Congress, Joe Biden had won the Presidency. McConnell, in his dead-eyed, laconic manner, listed the damning facts, citing numerous federal judges and state officials who had rejected Trump’s baseless assertions that the election had been 'rigged' against him. 'The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken,' McConnell said. 'If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.' Then, in a final jab, he pointed out that--contrary to Trump’s ludicrous claim that he’d won a second term by a landslide-- the election 'actually was not unusually close.' Trump had lost by seven million votes in the popular ballot, and 306–232 in the Electoral College."
McConnell has continued to distance himself from Trump since then, damning Trump by noting publicly that "The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people." Jentleson said "He should be deservedly held accountable for spending more than a month giving credence to Trump’s claims of election fraud-- on the Senate floor." Meyer: "Jentleson added that McConnell, by failing to speak out earlier, had 'offered legitimacy' to Trump’s war on the truth: 'Other Republicans took their signals from McConnell and continued to fan the flames. You can blame the rioters, but the entire Republican Party was telling them their claims were legitimate.'"
McConnell did not publicly confront Trump’s continued denials that he had lost until after the January 5th runoff election in Georgia, in which the Democratic Party gained two Senate seats, giving it control of the Senate and toppling McConnell from his position as Majority Leader. By then, according to some polls, as many as eighty-two per cent of Republican voters believed Trump’s false claims of fraud, and when his enraged supporters gathered on the National Mall many of them were determined to use force to override the official election results. The ensuing assault and ransacking of the Capitol was not only the most serious attempt at an anti-democratic coup in the country’s history; it also deepened the crisis of the Republican Party. Additionally, it triggered the flight of a striking number of its major corporate backers-- a development that, if it continues, could make it considerably harder for McConnell to retake the Senate in 2022.
Still, given Trump’s continuing popularity among Republicans, many people in Washington were surprised that McConnell—who is by far the most powerful, and often the most inscrutable, member of the Party in Congress—was willing to openly revolt against him. But John Yarmuth, a Democratic representative from Louisville, Kentucky, who has known McConnell since the late sixties, told me he’d long predicted that the alliance between Trump and McConnell would end once the President could no longer help McConnell. “Three years ago, I said he’d wait until Trump was an existential threat to the Party, and then cut him loose,” Yarmuth said. “He’s been furious with Trump for a long time. Many who know him have talked with him about how much he hates Trump.” But, Yarmuth noted, McConnell, focussed on Republican judicial appointments, “made a Faustian deal for all those judges.” Since 2017, McConnell has played an oversized role in helping Trump install more than two hundred conservative federal judges, including three Supreme Court Justices.
...[T]he Republican leadership’s complicity with Trump was not only cynical; it also may have been an egregious miscalculation, given that voter data suggests his unchecked behavior likely cost the Republican Party the two Georgia seats. The chaos and the intra-party warfare in the state appear to have led large numbers of moderate Republican voters in the suburbs to either vote Democratic or not vote at all. And in some deeply conservative pockets of Georgia where the President held rallies, such as the Dalton area, Republican turnout was unexpectedly low, likely because Trump had undermined his supporters’ faith in the integrity of American elections.
By dawn on January 6th, it had become clear that Loeffler and Perdue were both going to lose. The personal and political consequences for McConnell were cataclysmic. Stuart Stevens, a Republican strategist who helped lead Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign and was a founder of the anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project, told me, “McConnell had a forty-eight hours like no one else. He became Minority Leader and his Capitol was invaded. Domestic terrorists got inside it this time-- unlike on 9/11.” (On that day, Al Qaeda had planned to crash a United Airlines flight into the Capitol, but the plane went down after passengers overwhelmed the hijackers.) Stevens went on, “And what happened in Georgia was incredible. He’s scared to death, too, at how corporate America is responding. Supporting the overthrow of the U.S. government isn’t good for business.”
...Still, with another impeachment trial looming in the Senate, it’s unclear whether McConnell will truly end his compact with Trumpism. His recent denunciation of Trump sounded unequivocal. But he and his Republican caucus could make the same miscalculation that they made in Georgia, choosing to placate the Trumpian base of the Party rather than confront its retrograde values and commitment to falsehoods. So far, McConnell has been characteristically cagey. Although he let it be known that he regards Trump’s behavior as potentially impeachable, he also signalled that he hasn’t personally decided whether he will vote to convict him. He explained that he wants first to hear the evidence. He also rejected Democrats’ requests that he bring the Senate back from a winter recess to start the impeachment trial immediately, saying he prefers that the Senate trial begin in mid-February.
...“I think McConnell is trying to have it both ways,” Stevens told me. “He absolutely doesn’t want to impeach and convict Trump. It would split his base and cause members of his caucus to face primary challengers.” Stevens contended that McConnell, by signalling his openness to impeachment without committing to convicting Trump, was trying to avoid a meltdown of the Republican Party. Stevens likened McConnell to the top engineer at Chernobyl, who, after the power plant malfunctioned, thought that he could micromanage a nuclear disaster: “He tried to take the rods out.” Stevens added, “If he really wanted an impeachment conviction, he’d have done the trial right away.”
At first, political observers from both parties considered it possible that McConnell was merely using the threat of an impeachment trial as a brushback-- a way to hold Trump in line as he left office. Then McConnell directly accused Trump of having “provoked” the mob. Jim Manley, who served as the senior communications adviser to Harry Reid, the former Democratic Majority Leader, told me, “There is no going back now. He has decided to cut his losses, and do what he can to make sure Trump is no longer a threat to the Republican Party.” McConnell and other Republican leaders, Manley suggested, “have gotten as much out of Trump as they can, and it’s now time to make sure Trump is damaged goods.”
But the risks for McConnell and other Senate Republicans are high. It’s never good for a party leader to get out too far ahead of his caucus members-- he risks losing their fundamental support. Senator Lindsey Graham has criticized McConnell’s decision to blame Trump for the Capitol riot and has warned that, “without Trump’s help” in 2022, “we cannot take back the House and the Senate,” adding, “If you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the Party, you’re going to get erased.” McConnell’s maneuvers have also stirred the wrath of such powerful right-wing media figures as Sean Hannity, the Fox News host known for his unyielding sycophancy toward Trump. Hannity has called for McConnell to step down from the Party’s leadership in the Senate.
But if McConnell can muster the additional sixteen Republican votes necessary for a conviction-- doing so requires the assent of two-thirds of the Senate, and the fifty Democratic senators are expected to vote as a bloc-- he will have effectively purged Trump from the Party. Moreover, after a conviction, the Senate could hold a second vote, to bar Trump permanently from running for any federal office. Such a move might strengthen McConnell’s clout within the Party and help his wing of traditional Republicans reëstablish itself as the face of the G.O.P. Al Cross, a veteran political reporter and the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism, at the University of Kentucky, said, of McConnell, “I think he sees a chance to make Trump this generation’s version of Nixon, leaving no doubt who is at the top of the Republican heap.” Banning Trump would also guarantee that a different Republican will secure the Party’s nomination for President in 2024. Otherwise, Trump threatens to cast a shadow over the Party’s future. He has discussed running again, and, shortly before flying to Florida on January 20th, he stood on a tarmac and vowed, “We will be back in some form.”
Jentleson, the former Senate aide, thinks that McConnell and his party are in a very tricky spot: “The glue that kept the Tea Party and establishment Republicans together during the past few years was tax cuts and judges. And McConnell can’t deliver those anymore. So you could basically see the Republican Party coming apart at the seams. You need to marry the forty per cent that is the Trump base with the ten per cent that’s the establishment. McConnell is like a cartoon character striding aside a crack that’s getting wider as the two plates drift farther apart. They may not come back together. If they can’t reattach, they can’t win.”
There is another option: McConnell could just lie low and wait to see if the Democrats self-destruct. A divisive Senate impeachment trial may undercut Biden’s message of bipartisan unity, hampering his agenda in the crucial early months of his Presidency, when he needs momentum. McConnell has already seized on the fifty-fifty balance between the parties in the Senate in order to obstruct the Democrats. He’s refusing to devise rules for moving forward on Senate business unless Schumer yields to his demand not to alter the filibuster rule. Reviled by progressives, the rule requires a supermajority of sixty votes to pass legislation, rather than the simple majority that the Democrats now have if Vice-President Kamala Harris casts a tie-breaking vote. McConnell, who wrote a memoir titled The Long Game, is a master at outwaiting his foes. And, as Jentleson observed, one can never overestimate the appeal for politicians of “kicking the can down the road,” especially when confronted with tough decisions.
...Christopher Browning, a historian of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, told me that McConnell has been almost “Houdini-like at escaping his own devil’s pact” with Trump. In a widely admired essay in the New York Review of Books, from 2018, Browning called McConnell “the gravedigger of American democracy,” and likened him to elected officials in Weimar Germany who struck early deals with Hitler, mistakenly believing that they could contain him and his followers. When I asked Browning if he still regarded McConnell in this way, he said that the new Minority Leader had “cut a better deal than most.” McConnell was “lucky that Trump was so lazy, feckless, and undisciplined.” Hitler didn’t go golfing, Browning pointed out. But Browning found little to celebrate in McConnell’s performance. “If Trump had won the election, Mitch would not be jumping ship,” he noted. “But the fact is Trump lost, and his coup failed. And that opened an escape hatch for Mitch.” Browning warned, however, that “the McConnell wing was ready to embrace Trump’s usurping of democracy-- if Trump could pull it off.”
If McConnell does vote to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, it won’t be the first time that, out of political convenience, he has turned on his party’s leader. In 1973, when McConnell was an ambitious young lawyer, he wrote an op-ed in the Louisville Courier-Journal which referred to Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and denounced the corrupting influence of political money. Given McConnell’s later embrace of unregulated political funds, it may seem hard to square the author of that high-minded piece with the McConnell of today. But what remains consistent is that then, as now, he was acting in his self-interest. He later confessed to a biographer that the newspaper column was merely “playing for headlines.” McConnell was planning to run for office, as a Republican, and one thing was certain: he needed to protect himself from the stain of a disgraced President.
This morning, back to the point, Greg Sargent added that "McConnell is employing a simple but deceptive scam that has hoodwinked a lot of people for a long time. The central ruse is that McConnell piously holds up the filibuster as a tool for securing bipartisan cooperation. In reality, however, McConnell himself uses the filibuster in precisely the opposite way: To facilitate the partisan withholding of cooperation to an extraordinary extent, for largely instrumental ends... The result is that the Senate has largely ground to a halt."
Sargent's point is that when Obama was elected and had a Senate majority, in McConnell's hands "the filibuster facilitated the prevention of outbreaks of bipartisanship. It isn’t just that in many cases it blocked Senate Democrats from governing despite having the majority. It also set up standoffs in which refusing to reach compromises with a Democratic president fulfilled the instrumental goal of casting him as a failed leader. There is very little doubt that McConnell intends to do the same to Biden wherever possible."
This is pretty ugly--and this insurrectionist malignancy needs to be exterminated. Please watch these clips rescued from Parler: