In which Kelly belatedly joins the coup caucus, although this is technically a caucus of one since she’s not signing on to Cruz’s plan. I’m still waiting for an explanation from Cruz and her for why their “electoral commission” fig leaf couldn’t have become a conservative cause celebre in the Senate two months ago instead of two weeks before Inauguration Day.
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) January 4, 2021
The timing is interesting. Loeffler had spent the past two days dodging questions about whether she’d object during Wednesday’s congressional session, knowing that the politics of this are dicey on the eve of an election. What do you do when your base is demanding a little light sedition and swing voters are chilly to the idea? Maybe the president helped her make up her mind tonight. Loeffler may have been holding back on joining the coup caucus in the naive idle hope that Trump would recognize her electoral predicament and not pressure her to commit, but I can imagine him pulling her aside before the rally to say, “I notice that you haven’t signed on to Cruz’s demand for an electoral commission. I might mention that.” Et voila — a statement committing to the effort was duly issued.
If you’re wondering about Perdue, he gets a pass because he’s no longer a senator. His term ended on Sunday when the new Congress was sworn in so he won’t be on the floor on Wednesday. (Loeffler is still a senator right now because she’s finishing out Johnny Isakson’s term.) But he’s said that he *would* object if he were able, which is rational in the same way that Loeffler’s move tonight is rational. Both of them are completely uncharismatic, lacking any distinct political identity of their own; the only way they can get Republican voters excited to turn out is to scare the sh*t out of them about the Democratic alternatives and cling desperately to Trump no matter how politically rocky things get. “The message they want voters to get before Tuesday’s runoff election is that they will be stooges for MAGA,” writes Tim Miller of the Loeffler/Perdue campaign. “Anything you project onto them that you hold dear, they will dispatch within a moment at the caprice of a Trump family member.” That’s correct. That’s their entire platform, nothing more or less.
That’s also an important part of why it’s so easy to loathe the January 6 nonsense. It’s not just contemptible on the merits, it’s glaringly clear that not a single senator participating is doing it out of genuine conviction. There may be a few in the House, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are so immersed in conspiracy theories that they believe earnestly that a congressional intervention is needed. But in the Senate it’s all about selfish electoral maneuvering, either trying to get a leg up in a future presidential primary (Cruz and Hawley) or protecting oneself from a Senate primary challenge (Ron Johnson, James Lankford). Tom Nichols:
Indeed, shredding the Constitution purely for personal gain is perhaps the worst of the sins of the sedition caucus. It would almost be a relief to know that these Republicans really believe what they’re trying to sell, that they are genuine fanatics and ideologues who have at least paid us the respect of pitting their sincere beliefs against our own…
People of goodwill across the United States want some sort of road map to oppose this cold-blooded attack on the Constitution, but none exists. As James Madison warned us, without a virtuous people, no system of checks and balances will work. The Republicans have gone from being a party that touted virtue to being the most squalid and grubby expression of institutionalized self-interest in the modern history of the American republic…
The members of the public and the institutions of American life should shroud these seditionists in silence and opprobrium in perpetuity: no television interviews, no sinecures at universities or think tanks, no rehabilitating book tours, no jokey late-night appearances, no self-serving op-eds.
That’s correct. Cruz and Hawley and the rest will have plenty of righty media outlets willing to host them after this but non-right media has no reason to offer them a platform. The press routinely denies an audience to people whose ideas are beyond the pale; few of those people will ever do anything as repulsive as coopting the U.S. Congress for a kabuki coup attempt in order to show fealty to a strongman. Don’t ever have them on again. They’ve got Fox and Newsmax if they need a megaphone.
As for what the president will be doing on Wednesday while the “stop the steal” effort is playing out on the Hill, he’s planning to address the “wild” demonstration in D.C. that he’s been encouraging fans to hold. ABC reports that he might be seeking out a crowd because even his advisors won’t enable his illusions of holding onto power at this point:
The sources say Trump is increasingly isolated, describing a man who is only interested in the Electoral College certification process in Congress on Jan. 6.
Even loyalists who have thus far publicly supported the president’s false claims that the election was stolen from him have begun to think about job opportunities in a post-Trump world — but they have been unable to discuss with Trump whether they will still work for him outside of the White House, sources say.
“We are still in the denial phase,” said one Trump ally, who described Trump’s plans between Jan. 6 and Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 as “unknown.”
“All of us are just trying to stay off the radar,” said one senior administration official to WaPo. “You have a conversation with him and, the next thing you know, you’re pulled into, ‘Hey, Sidney Powell told me yadda, yadda, yadda,’ or, ‘Rudy said blah, blah, blah.’ There’s no upside to being in his orbit right now.” At a rally, he can go on and on about what Sidney Powell told him for hours if he wants and he won’t have to worry about getting any weird looks from Mark Meadows or Pat Cipollone or whoever.
Yuval Levin wrote this morning that the most tragic part of the January 6 charade is that Republican politicians have invested so heavily in voter-fraud hysteria instead of doing the hard work of improving their constituents’ lives with policy initiatives. “Congress could do some things to protect religious liberty, to lift some of the burdens weighing on Americans struggling to raise children, to push back against the radicalization of higher education, to take the threat of Chinese power more seriously, to help Americans yearning for meaningful economic security or more stable employment, to make more opportunities available to Americans who don’t go to college, to secure our borders and improve the immigration system, and in other ways to help more Americans lead dignified lives in a decent and prosperous free society,” Levin writes, disgusted that the GOP is invested in a last-gasp “electoral commission” instead. But … isn’t that what their constituents want? The one grain of truth in Cruz’s and Hawley’s coup shtick is that there are many “allegations” of fraud thanks to Trump and millions of Republicans have “concerns” about them. Stipulate that Republicans voters *should* care more about policy. Do they?
Isn’t this critique essentially correct?
You're gonna carry it because this is a weird honor culture substitute for substantive politics (ie using power for policy, oversight, administration to improve people's lives) https://t.co/KR70yJxBOl
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 4, 2021
If Boebert never offers a bill in the House but manages to win some culture-war showdown with Pelosi over whether members of Congress can carry concealed, she’ll be one of the most popular politicians in the activist class of the GOP. Levin’s critique boils down to “this isn’t how a serious political party behaves,” but it *is* how a serious personality cult behaves and that’s where the demand seems to be among the Republican base. I doubt there’s a single policy issue we could identify, including badly needed $2,000 checks, which the base would agree is a sufficiently high priority that Wednesday’s session should be scrapped and the time used to pursue that issue instead. In which case, aren’t Cruz and Hawley at least fulfilling their duty to “represent” their constituents by prioritizing Trump’s grievances over all other matters? They’re being terrible leaders and they’re doing a disservice to the country, but viewed through the narrow lens of their political obligation to defend the interests of the majority that elected them, they’ve got their ducks in order. The GOP has very little to do with policy anymore and tomorrow’s “nihilist” election in Georgia proves it. It’s frankly fitting that the runoffs and the January 6 coup attempt would finally converge with Loeffler’s decision tonight.
I’ll leave you with this. Maybe it wasn’t Trump who pressured Loeffler to issue her statement. Maybe she did it because somehow, in spite of all her obsequiousness, she’s still not quite MAGA enough:
You can read @SenatorLoeffler's decision as a sign Republicans believe they're in trouble tomorrow and are desperate to turn out rural white supporters who haven't warmed to the two GOP incumbents yet. #gapol #gasen https://t.co/ImuSJBuaHy
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) January 5, 2021