IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11 February 2022
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The mouth that keeps on giving
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON — Democrats could not have a better ally than former President Donald Trump. He makes the case that returning Republicans to power would mean trading insults instead of ideas and indulging in conspiracy theories instead of learning the lessons of January 6, 2021. Political parties change and adapt. They find new coalitions or renew old ones. Often this is old poison in a new bottle, especially when the appeal is to our lesser angels, which is what Trump is doing. But a schism is in the making.
A month ago, Republicans were the odds-on favorites to take back the House and maybe the Senate. But after a constant stream of inanities coming from Trump, the November elections may not be such a sure thing for the GOP as the party splinters.
A small stampede among some Republicans is beginning to distance itself from the RNC’s description of 1/6. Even the famously stoic and expressionless Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could not stay quiet after the Republican National Committee censured Representatives Lynne Cheney, R-Wy., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., for participating on the 1/6 committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The RNC called the committee’s work “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”
The wording is patently ridiculous to describe an event that every American witnessed with their own eyes thanks to live television, and which McConnell and many members of Congress lived through, fearing for their lives. The marauders chanted, “Hang Pence,” and roamed the marble halls of the Capitol looking for the vice president, defacing the building and assaulting the police in the violent encounter.
This was not legitimate political discourse. This was “a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election,” McConnell said. He and increasing numbers of Republicans would rather hammer President Biden about inflation, the pandemic, opioid overdoses, and Ukraine than embarrass themselves with the Big Lie.
McConnell, who is focused on regaining a GOP majority, must be seeing some worrisome polling about the Trump effect, or he would not have weighed in on an intra-party fight over how much fealty must be given to the former president.
Meanwhile, oblivious to reality or logic, Trump continues to direct most of his fire at Republicans. McConnell is not a newcomer to Trump’s enemies list. He’s been a prime target for insults and ridicule for a long time, years even, because he wasn’t able to muster the votes to repeal Obamacare and pass infrastructure legislation that Trump never bothered to craft or rally support for.
Trump is also calling erstwhile ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., names because he said the people who entered the Capitol and behaved violently should be prosecuted. Trump didn’t like that because he’s turning the insurrectionists into martyrs and suggests he will pardon them if he’s reelected in 2024.
It's hard to know if Trump really believes the election was stolen from him, but as he wallows in his delusional, narcissistic, grievance, he’s become the best ally the Democrats have had in some time. He’s the mouth that keeps on giving.
Douglas Cohn’s latest books are The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
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END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11 February 2022