Donald Trump can’t even give a speech at a party fundraising dinner without ranting about the Republicans who gave bipartisan support to Joe Biden’s “socialist” infrastructure bill. One of the 13 House Republicans who did, freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who generally defends Trump, was there for his latest rant and “visibly shaken” by the personal affront.
Shouldn’t everyone be shaken by the party’s elected elite just sitting there absorbing the hate, along with their overcooked filet, as the price of keeping Trump from eating them alive? Don’t they know by now he doesn’t stay bought and that, like the price of eggs, the cost of an uneasy peace keeps going up?
Already Trump is carrying out his promise to primary anyone who’d ever disappointed him and picking deeply flawed candidates in the tradition of Roy Moore, whom he backed to the hilt even after it came out that the good judge had a long history of pursuing underage girls. This time, he’s got a murderers’ row of alleged abusers who might have fit right into a White House full of them but could end up costing Republicans dearly in next year’s midterms.
The roster starts with Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania. His Senate campaign has been dogged by politically inconvenient domestic abuse charges since a primary opponent got hold of temporary restraining orders obtained by his now ex-wife in 2017 and 2018. Instead of campaigning Monday, Parnell was in court defending himself against charges that he choked her, abandoned her on the side of the road, told her to get an abortion, and hit his son so hard it left welts on his back. Parnell’s denied everything, conceding only that “it was a bad relationship.”
He’ll be cross-examined next week. The Army veteran once explained that “from an evolutionary standpoint, it used to be women were attracted to your strength because you could defend them from dinosaurs, but now your financial status today is emblematic of your strength, which is why you have all these young hotties marrying these old guys.” He concluded that supposedly satirical take on women, delivered in 2019 on Fox Nation, naturally, by saying that “the whole happy wife, happy life nonsense has done nothing but raise one generation of women tyrants after the next.”
That rant may have contributed to his 2020 loss, in a House district that Trump won by 20 points, to Democrat Conor Lamb. Despite or because of Parnell’s history, Trump is sticking by him, holding a fundraiser for Parnell at Mar-a-Lago early next year.
In another marquee race, former NFL star Herschel Walker has a comfortable lead thanks to Trump’s endorsement in the party’s race for a candidate to challenge Georgia incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock despite allegations by his ex-wife that he once put a gun to her head and said: “I’m going to blow your fucking brains out.” Walker, who wrote a whole book about his violent tendencies, multiple personalities, and suicidal urges, has denied her claims of physical and mental abuse, as well as similar ones in a police report filed by an ex-girlfriend who’s since passed away.
Last Saturday, Walker told a crowd of 400 at a Cobb County breakfast that he’s running because he’s a Christian, a Heisman trophy winner who loves the Constitution, and he’d be fine if the left departed America. Armed with Trump’s approval, Herschel tamped down criticism that he fled Georgia a decade ago for the low-tax state of Texas. He’ll move back, he says, if he wins the nomination.
Trump hasn’t yet endorsed former Republican Governor Eric Greitens, now attempting a political comeback in Missouri two years after resigning in disgrace, although he seems like Trump’s kind of guy. Greitens not only cheated on his pregnant wife, he had the nerve to blackmail the woman he cheated with and who says he physically abused her. “Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere,” he told her, “and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”
Maybe Trump’s holding out because Greitens isn’t polling as well as Walker and Parnell, who other Republicans have lined up behind on the apparent theory that pretty much “everybody loves a winner,” however their abused wives may feel. Initially skeptical that a candidate with little experience beyond blocking and tackling could take on Warnock, Mitch McConnell capitulated this week in the face of favorable polls. With or without McConnell, Walker is almost certain to win the nomination but like other Trump candidates—Moore in Alabama and then-Georgia incumbent Kelly Loeffler, a carpetbagger accused of not paying her fair share of taxes—just as likely to lose the general.
There’s another hazard from supporting particularly odious candidates: It drives good candidates away. McConnell was stunned on Tuesday when the GOP’s most desired recruit, popular New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, rejected the offer of massive support from the national party if he’d challenge incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan. He didn’t decline because he wanted to spend more time with his family but because of the company he would have to keep once he got there.
That would include crossing paths on Capitol Hill with Rep. Paul Gosar, who tweeted out a video this week on an anime edited to show him slashing the throat of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Gosar is the congressman from Arizona so despised by his six siblings they endorsed his opponent and put out an ad recently to publicize his part in the deadly attack on the Capitol.
Employed anywhere else, Gosar would be rushed to H.R. and frog-marched out of the building but not when his putative employer is spineless Trump toady Kevin McCarthy, who’s tending to the more pressing business of shoring up Trump’s crusade to make the 13 Republican apostates suffer beyond the tongue-lashing he gave them at dinner.
What’s Gosar’s mock-killing of a fellow member—AOC’s an enemy, after all—compared to forcing the 13 apostates to pay for voting to rebuild cracked bridges and remove lead from drinking water by stripping them of their committee assignments? If McCarthy let them get away unscathed, next thing you know they’d be saying he lost the presidential election fair and square.
Trump feasts on revenge. In Jonathan Karl’s new book Betrayal:The Final Act of the Trump Show, the former president and the chair of the RNC sound more like characters in The Godfather than friends saying goodbye in the final moments of Trump’s presidency. Karl reports that Trump, bitter the party wasn’t doing more to stick up for him, threatened that he was “leaving the Republican Party and would be creating his own,” adding that he didn’t care that the GOP would lose without him. It’s what they deserved.
McDaniel, who in happier times dropped Romney from her name to please Trump, matched his threat and raised him one. Stop with the intimidation or the party would stop paying his legal bills and would keep him from what Karl describes as Trump’s “most valuable political asset,” a list of 40 million email addresses at the RNC that he needs to dun his followers. Trump heard the sound of money wafting out the door and relented. For now.
Appalled that Trump was invited to dinner at all, Liz Cheney held a press conference to remind her party of a domestic threat never before experienced: “a former president who’s attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”
If you doubt her assessment, just ask a Republican the simple question: who’s president? We live in a country where our highest-ranking officials are afraid to say.