Mitch McConnell Goes Nuclear on the American Economy but He’s Still Not Nuts Enough for Trump
The former president doesn’t care so much if the party wins back the House and Senate so long as he gets his revenge on those who didn’t worship ardently enough at his altar.
The kind of crowd Mitch McConnell used to run with is begging him not to go nuclear by refusing to raise the debt limit ceiling. A letter signed by six former Treasury Secretaries, including Republican Hank Paulson who saw the country through the 2008 financial crisis, landed on his desk this week with the ominous warning that “even delaying resolution until default is imminent can be detrimental.”
That’s Master of the Universe speak for Knock It Off. The letter comes after a private meeting, first reported by the Washington Post, in which Paulson, joined by Steve Mnuchin, pleaded with McConnell to stop with threats that would wreak havoc on the global economy, and any number of portfolios held by former secretaries. Afterward, Paulson and Mnuchin told the relevant officials in the Biden administration that McConnell isn’t budging, nor bluffing.
Kind of like the past four years when McConnell marched in lockstep with an obviously impaired president, given to rage-tweeting, who never could tell one article of the Constitution from another. Even as the stakes rose higher, McConnell stuck with Trump as hundreds of thousands of people died from a pandemic that Trump gave himself a “10 out of 10” for handling. McConnell didn’t contest the grade inflation, any more than he tried to shut down Trump’s crazed Stop the Steal efforts before and after the election—a recently discovered memo reveals the president knew there was no supporting evidence for his charges of fraud—even after his crusade cost Republicans two seats in special elections in Georgia and demoted McConnell from majority to minority leader.
While there was a brief spot of sunlight after McConnell was shocked by the Jan. 6 violence, holding Trump “morally responsible,” he quickly returned to the fold to stand behind a loser who remains the uncontested leader of the Republican party despite costing it the White House and both Houses of Congress.
Although McConnell hasn’t gone all-in on Mar-a-Lago’s Big Lie by saying that Joe Biden stole the election, he comes close by swearing to be "100 percent" focused on “stopping" the current occupant of the Oval Office.
But not close enough to keep the ungrateful former president from talking to GOP senators about mounting a challenge to McConnell’s leadership, according to the Wall Street Journal. There are no takers yet but I have a hunch that Sen. Josh Hawley, the thumbs-up cheerleader of Trump’s Jan. 6 “rally” at the Capitol, is rested, and ready for the task.
When Trump isn’t trying to depose McConnell, he’s driving traditional Republicans into early retirement: so far Roy Blunt, Pat Toomey, Rob Portman, Richard Shelby and Richard Burr, with others like Charles Grassley at age 88, and Ron Johnson, known as Ron “Anon,” mulling it over.
The wildest of Trump’s revenge endorsements is his enthusiasm for Rep. Mo Brooks—who showed up before the riot on Jan. 6 in camo-wear to egg on the insurrectionists ahead of their march to Congress to try and hang Mike Pence—in Shelby’s seat in Alabama.
Trump doesn’t care so much if the party wins back the House and Senate so long as he gets his revenge on those who didn’t worship ardently enough at his altar. That is, he cares more about the GOP remaining “his party” than he does about the GOP actually doing well enough to reclaim Congress.
Beyond the beltway, these are dark days for McConnell as COVID-19 is running rampant in Kentucky, where 43 school employees have died from the virus to date. McConnell himself is pro-vaccine, having had polio as a child, but his party has so politicized the virus he waited six months after the onset of the coronavirus to so much as don a mask and say they could help. He’s leaving the question of mask-wearing for unvaccinated children to school boards. Like all Republicans who want to be re-elected, McConnell is against Biden’s or any government-sponsored mandates.
Maybe when the death toll goes up another 10 teachers, McConnell will push masks for young children, if not for the sake of his soul, then for the sake of reclaiming his big balcony with room for cigar parties. He could follow the example of his friend, former President George W. Bush, who emerged from his art studio recently to support the candidacy of Trump enemy No. 1 Liz Cheney against the ex-president’s hand-picked candidate to primary her seat and who warned in his Sept. 11 speech this year about domestic terrorists with “the same foul spirit” as the foreign ones he waged war against, calling it “our continuing duty to confront them"
Trump replied that “Bush led a failed and uninspiring presidency. He shouldn’t be lecturing anybody!”
Surely in this showdown of former Republican presidents, McConnell’s heart, and his mind, are with Bush. Unlike Trump, who left office without grasping how the Supreme Court or the Fed worked, wanting only to pack the former and to rid himself of the independent chairman of the latter, McConnell knows that raising the debt limit is something real patriots are obligated to do, kind of like the vice president certifying the election. Congress’ charge is to authorize the Treasury to pay what it already owes, including debts that McConnell’s caucus blithely racked up in the past. It’s not, as he pretends, giving a credit card to Biden to run up charges in the future.
McConnell also knows that if the debt ceiling is raised, nothing much happens and his audience of one will be bored. If it isn’t lifted, all financial hell breaks loose and that same audience will be riveted. If the U.S. were a person, its credit rating would be cut to zero and Biden’s economy will crater. What boffo television!
Still, does Mitch really want to be remembered for the McConnell Default and as Trump’s lap dog when, no matter how low he goes, Trump will still try to deprive him of the best view in Washington?