If you heard Trump batting about how the Republican party has never been more unified, on the White House lawn Sunday morning, this is what that all boils down to: Mitch McConnell is convinced that as long as the economy stays strong and the Republicans present a united front, impeachment will simply be viewed as the vile partisan plot that Trump depicts it as, and the Ukraine scandal will just go by the boards. Now, this may be overly optimistic on McConnell’s part, not to mention cynical as hell, considering how more damning information comes out by the day, not only about Ukraine, but also oozing from the Mueller memos, which have been released. On the other hand, McConnell is a cunning old bastard, who understands politics as a game and a strategy as few others have. In all events, this is the GOP game plan as it stands now and will remain, until when and if an alteration of it is forced. Axios:
Between the lines: Trump officials think two things must unfold for this to happen: Republicans must stay unified, in votes and voice, and the economy must be strong, in jobs and market returns. The trends are strong on both fronts.
This is plausible. A strong economy supports an incumbent’s reelection, no question about that. However, there are unmistakable signs of the economy weakening, not the least of which is the inverse yield curve, which is a harbinger of a stock market crash. It happened most recently in late 2018, and traditionally, 18 months after that is when the crash takes place. So, if Trump gets reelected, the economy will go south on his watch, of that there is no question. Since there is so much consumer debt these days, it’s possible that this recession would be worse than 2008. Add to that the trade war with China, and the loss of other foreign markets, which have necessitated massive farm bailouts on Trump’s watch, and we could be looking at one hell of a rodeo ride if Trump gets reelected.
The worse aspect of this vision, though, is what another four years of Trump would do to the standing of the United States in the eyes of the world. Iraq is already “recalibrating” its posture towards the United States and the Middle East, always a tinder box, is more turbulent than it has been in years. Even McConnell and Lindsey Graham rushed in to do damage control after the Syrian debacle. Another four years of the United States not being on board in its traditional role as world leader could forever cripple not only this country but change the power dynamic amongst our allies and our adversaries significantly, possibly permanently. Our alliances with both France and Germany, and certainly Mexico, have been sorely strained the past three years.
Finally, there is the fact that Trump is the most hated president in history at this point. Part of that may be cultural war, yes, but for the most part, he has earned the censure of Americans. He’s earned the boos and one fingered salutes and “fuck you”s yelled from the stands. His entire farce of a presidency has been one long insult to normal standards of decency and discourse. He has reviled his political opponents, indeed anyone who opposes him, in the language and manner of a mobster cum banana republic despot — which is indeed his goal. He’s made it clear from the get go that he intends to muscle his way into an authoritarian niche and he’s broadly hinted that he should stay in power longer, or maybe not leave at all.
I can understand McConnell taking his stand. This is by far the best way for him to play it. And so far, Trump is playing along.
Behind the scenes: McConnell has privately told Trump that Senate Republicans aren’t as susceptible to his pressure as House Republicans are.
- The Senate leader encouraged Trump to give all Republican senators some room and not single anyone out that he may see as wobbly, per sources familiar with McConnell’s advice to the president. Trump has recently pulled back from attacking Senate Republicans he deems insufficiently loyal.
- McConnell has advised his colleagues to play offense where they can — for example, his resolution with Lindsey Graham criticizing Democrats’ process. And he’s advised his more skittish, moderate, colleagues to deflect reporters’ questions by saying they’ll be “a juror” in Trump’s Senate trial and therefore can’t comment.
McConnell’s strategy just might work. But while it’s going on, there are stories of this non-functional administration that never get the press or the play that they would in a calmer time. Ben Carson recently missed a deadline allocating $8.9 billion dollars in disaster relief funds to Puerto Rico. Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security lacks a head, and the people Trump wants to nominate for the post are legally ineligible for the job. In any sane world, these stories would be commanding front page banners, but they are relegated way back, as was the story of Hillary being exonerated of any wrongdoing with emails, to page 16 of the New York Times. That’s because all of the emphasis is on Trump’s scandal du jour and the distraction he always creates to distract from it. This is who we are and how we live in Trumpworld, 2019.
I honestly don’t think that we can take another four more years of Donald Trump, but for right now, this is the state of play politically. And admittedly, it was a win in the House the other day for Trump, when not a single Republican representative voted for the impeachment resolution. The Republicans always go along to get along and unless something miraculous happens to force their hands, individually, to where it comes down to a clear case of political survival vs. following Trump, then and only then will you see Republicans take a stance contrary to the one that McConnell is taking now, outlined here. Then they will abandon Trump, but not until then. Unless forced to that point, the Republicans will do anything to stay in power, even if it means destroying the America we know. That is how grim this is. One year from today is election day. Think about it. One Trump administration is a horrific gaffe, democracy spinning out of control and down a strange path. But a Trump reelection will make the statement to the world, “This is who we are. This is what America has become.”