Can’t blame him. His guy lost by double digits after a personal appeal in-state from the president himself. The only way this cuckening could have been worse is if Melania had married Roy Moore after his victory speech.
I can understand being embarrassed, but why pissed? Surely Trump wasn’t so badly misled about the state of the race that he thought Strange stood a good chance of winning. Every independent survey pointed to a lay-up for Moore; the only dissenting notes were dubious internal polls showing the race tightening, and even those looked grim for Trump’s guy over the weekend. He should have known when he showed up in Huntsville last week that he was backing a longshot. Instead he was in such a huff last night that he ended up deleting some of his tweets backing Strange after the race was called, something he almost never does. This tweet from 2014, for instance, remains in good standing in the presidential Twitter account archives.
North Korea had better not fire off any missiles today:
Trump is blaming everyone but himself for Strange's election loss, several sources tell CNN, and went to bed "embarrassed and pissed."
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 27, 2017
The search for a scapegoat has already begun. McConnell, whom Trump has taken to mocking privately, will get most of the heat but things could get interesting in the West Wing too. Among the advisors who reportedly pushed Trump to endorse Strange was Jared Kushner:
Trump was encouraged to pick Strange before the August primary by son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as well as other aides, White House officials said. He was never going to endorse Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who has at times opposed Trump’s agenda, and knew little about Moore, officials said.
“He seemed like he didn’t know the state of play and what was going on,” said one person who discussed the race with Trump last week. “I don’t think he has been given good advice.”…
Bannon’s aggressive moves and television appearances in the race on Moore’s behalf, along with his appearance at a rally backing Moore on Monday, especially upset Trump, who was also annoyed that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and his former White House aide Sebastian Gorka rallied for Moore.
Two possibilities for why Kushner urged Trump to back Strange. One: He’s a globalist Democrat who was only too eager to sell out Republican voters by nudging POTUS behind the establishment candidate. Two: Errrr, it was the perfectly logical thing to do since Strange would be far easier to control in the Senate than Moore will. Kushner backed the Trumpist option over the populist and he did so knowing that the firebreathers leading the charge for Moore were all terrified of antagonizing Trump, to the point where they went around selling Moore to voters as the pro-Trump choice in the race. If Trump and Kushner knew that he could get away with backing Strange with nothing to fear from attacks by big-name populists like Steve Bannon, what did he really have to lose in supporting Strange? He’ll suffer a few days of embarrassment at his guy’s defeat but then he’ll hug it out with Moore and all will be forgotten. And meanwhile, if his gamble on Strange had paid off, the Senate GOP would have loved him for it *and* he would have proved that he still commands total loyalty from the Republican base. It was a longshot but a longshot worth taking.
As for Bannon, he did everything he could to take the sting out of this looming defeat for Trump, knowing that it was destined to bruise President Alpha’s ego no matter how hard he and Moore strained to associate themselves with him. Bannon told Moore fans at a rally on Sunday night that the Republican leadership views them as “a pack of morons,” which is largely true and also tailor-made to goose the cultural resentments that helped Trump get elected. But if Bannon thought Trump would accept a decisive loss with equanimity just because the victor spent time praising him at every turn, he must believe Trump is a moron himself. I don’t think he does believe that. Rather, he’s probably calculated that whatever personal pique Trump feels towards him, Palin, etc, will ease soon enough. The important thing is that POTUS will think twice about opposing populist challengers in primaries going forward lest he be humiliated again like he was last night. The days of Trump going all-in for Mitch McConnell’s and Jared Kushner’s preferred candidate are probably over, which is precisely what Bannon wanted from this race.
I’m no Moore fan but I think it’s perfectly understandable for Bannon and other populists to want to oust Senate Republicans. There’s nary a true populist among them. They’re a collection of dogmatic conservatives and business-friendly moderates. A leadership that thought more like the people it purports to represent would have produced a health-care bill that stayed away from Medicaid cuts, for starters. The ideological mismatch between conservatives in Washington and the nationalists who turn out for them has dragged on for years; next year’s primaries may help ease some tension by resolving that mismatch. And if I’m wrong that this has to do with ideology and instead is mainly about cultural tribalism that many Washington Republicans don’t share, well, the primaries will help resolve that mismatch too. In a democracy people have the right to be represented by those who share their interests. It’s increasingly absurd to believe that Republican voters share the same interests as Republican leaders, especially after last year’s presidential primary.