It’s been five long years but I think we may have finally arrived at a kumbaya moment for MAGA and Never Trump. Never Trumpers want to see the GOP establishment burn because of how servile they’ve behaved towards the president. MAGA wants to see the GOP establishment burn because they haven’t behaved servile enough. Now here’s POTUS seemingly prepared to torch the party on his way out the door because they haven’t done enough to help him pull off a coup.
Seems to me like everyone’s getting what they want for Christmas this year.
C’mon. Bring it in here for a hug.
Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, “Mitch’s boy”, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
If you missed it, this post from yesterday will explain why he’s mad at Thune. Thune and Mitch McConnell don’t want any Republican senators objecting to the electoral college results when Congress meets on January 6, as that’ll force an awkward floor vote for the caucus. Vote to accept the results and you’re a traitor to MAGA. Vote to reject them and you’re playing along with the coup attempt. Thune has been warning people, publicly and privately, that the votes just aren’t there in the Senate to reject any state’s election results, which means anyone who objects will be forcing a painful floor vote to no end. Nothing’s going to change. Biden’s win will be certified. The floor vote will achieve zippo except to ensure that sizable blocs of voters across the political spectrum end up pissed off at Senate Republicans for one reason or another.
But I’m not sure if Thune realizes that … that’s the point. Trump and his allies in the House, like Mo Brooks, know how to count. They understand that they’re destined to lose on January 6. They’re not forcing a floor vote to try to stop Biden’s victory, they’re doing it to create an enemies list for the president and his fans.
They’re declaring a GOP civil war.
President Donald Trump is plotting a final stand in Congress on Jan. 6, casting it as the ultimate loyalty test in his quest to remain in power and shutting out anyone who won’t get in line…
The objections will … force Republicans in Congress to go on record voting to affirm Biden’s victory — acknowledging the outcome and likely inflaming Trump’s diehard supporters, a crucial GOP faction that has joined the president in denying the election results. Republican strategists and Trump allies inside and outside Washington said Trump’s core supporters will remember how their lawmakers vote on Jan. 6…
“It certainly does put Republicans in a position of appearing as though they are actively opposing President Trump when most of them have done pretty much everything they can do to support his presidency,” said a veteran GOP operative. “It obviously sets you off into a 2022 cycle where the president and his supporters are going to play a big role in continuing to shape the party and you want to keep everybody under the tent.”
Everybody wins. MAGA gets a group of Republicans to despise and primary the next time they’re up for reelection and Never Trumpers get a different group of Republicans to despise and never support again. All thanks to Santa Trump and Tommy Tuberville or whichever other Senate Republican ends up objecting to various states’ electoral votes.
What more could one ask for from the president in his final month in office?
He’s not just targeting Thune, by the way. Two days ago, Republican senators received this in their email inboxes from the White House:
Just an incredible slide that the WH has sent to Republican Senators in which they cite a Trump tweet in support of McConnell and a robocall he cut as key to his victory! Via @jonathanvswan https://t.co/b6pkwciKAE pic.twitter.com/qWQb0u9pLb
— Sam Stein (@samstein) December 22, 2020
That’s what McConnell got for congratulating Biden on becoming president-elect after the electoral college voted last week. I hope it doesn’t need to be said that McConnell would have won comfortably in Kentucky over Amy McGrath whether or not Trump endorsed him. (Whether he would have won a primary against a Trump-backed challenger is a separate question.) Note in the graphic that the robocall that supposedly propelled McConnell to victory came when he was already ahead of McGrath by double digits in the polling, and remember that polls grossly underestimated Republicans in races across the country. In all likelihood Cocaine Mitch was ahead of McGrath by 15 points for weeks or months. He didn’t need Trump’s support — but he probably did need Trump not to be actively opposed to him.
That was the point of sending this slide around to McConnell’s caucus, I presume. Trump’s telling them that if they don’t vote the right way on January 6, they’ll find out firsthand what it’s like to have the president campaigning for their opponent. In case that message wasn’t already clear, last night’s tweet about Thune made it crystal.
Is Thune’s career really over, though? Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in South Dakota in 2016 by 30 points. Thune defeated his Democratic opponent in the same election by … 43, and secured 37,000 more votes than Trump did in the process. If Trump’s serious about leading a GOP civil war in the 2022 primaries against “disloyal” Republicans, his first move is to find a primary challenger in SD who’s willing and able to knock off Thune. And there *is* someone who might be able. But she doesn’t sound willing:
.@johnthune is a friend of mine, and I will not be challenging him. I’m honored to be Governor of South Dakota and will ask the people to give me an opportunity to continue serving them as Governor in 2022.
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) December 23, 2020
Kristi Noem doesn’t want to be senator, she wants to be president. And she may figure that making enemies of the Republican establishment by primarying Thune will hurt her more in that effort than earning Trump’s gratitude will help her as he prepares to formally exit politics (for awhile). She can always revisit her decision next year or in early 2022 if MAGA remains the engine of Republican politics and she concludes that pandering to Trump fans by taking on Thune will pay off for her in 2024. But that’s a steep bet: If she primaries Thune and loses, she’ll have made a lot of enemies in her state and will receive no thanks from Trumpers. It’ll be her career that’s over, not his.
Anyway, an exit question on the subject of civil war: Did Trump blow up the stimulus bill last night with his new demand for $2,000 checks really just to screw McConnell and the Senate GOP? We’ll discuss it in a separate post.