Trump Targets McConnell, and His Wife

Bullies prey on the weak, and they’re usually very good at figuring out who the weak are. Master bully Donald Trump is particularly good at it. He must think that Mitch McConnell is very, very weak.

The other day Trump ripped into McConnell, calling him a “son of a bitch” and a “stone-cold loser.” True to form, Trump doubled down on his bullying by going after McConnell’s wife as well.

McConnell is the leader of the Senate’s Republicans, but Trump doesn’t think much of his leadership. It’s pretty clear he’d like someone else in charge. Lindsey Graham is jockeying for the role, as is Ted Cruz. Graham might get it. Cruz almost certainly won’t.

One of McConnell’s main jobs is helping Republicans win Senate elections. It should be one of Trump’s as well. The two of them should be cooperating, but working with someone who insults your wife can’t be easy. The party faithful may applaud Trump’s bombastic behavior, but it hard to see how it will help them win.

McConnell Trys His Trump

Mitch McConnell Is angry. Some companies (Coca Cola, Delta Airlines) are speaking out against the voting rights law that Georgia Republicans just passed. Mitch thought they were over the line and channeled his inner Trump to try bullying the companies.

“Stay out of politics,” he warned them. Or what? He didn’t say.

McConnell’s position is massively ironic. Republicans have been happy to take corporate money for years. They were also supporters of the Citizen’s United ruling that let corporations spend money to buy political ads. Apparently buying political ads is fine as long as you agree with McConnell’s politics.

The problem is, Mitch doesn’t really wear the bully mantle well. Sure, in the Senate he carries a big stick. But as a populist leader of the Republican party, it just isn’t happening for him. He’s past his sell by date. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are running rings around him. Graham may even take his place as top Senate Republican (Cruz would love to, but it would never happen. Too many Republicans hate his guts.)

McConnell may have even scored an own goal with his threat. What if the Democrats agree with him and propose legislation to keep companies out of politics? It’s a slippery slope.

Will Kamala Step In It Again?

Only eight days after she was inaugurated as vice president, Kamala Harris stepped in it, big time. She went to West Virginia to tout Joe Biden’s economic plans, but did not give a head’s up to the state’s top (only) Democrat. Senator Joe Manchin was not happy, and let everyone know.

It was a rookie mistake that Biden would have never made. Harris only spent two years in the Senate, and apparently that wasn’t long enough for her to learn how to count votes. Any political neophyte could have told her that with the Senate evenly divided the Democrats could not afford to offend any of their own, especially someone from a solidly Republican state. Unsurprisingly, Manchin’s power in the Senate has only grown since that incident.

Now Biden is sending her into the border/refugee morass. An problem with no easy solutions but plenty of fodder for the press and easy photo ops for the Republicans. Turning down the heat on Biden will be a real test of Harris’ political skill.

There are plenty of cow paddies along the border. Will Harris manage to spend time there without stepping in one?

Chao Down, Mitch Too?

Mitch McConnell has bee justly labeled a hard hitting politician, but he has pretty much escaped accusations of major corruption. His wife has not. How much this affects him remains to be seen.

McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao went to work for Donald Trump as his Transportation Secretary. Like many on Team Trump, she is accused of using her position for personal gain. Trump’s Justice Department took a look at this during his last days in office and, not surprisingly, decided not to get involved.

The issue is now before Congress. McConnell is in a tough spot. On the one hand, he wants to defend his wife. On the other hand, if the evidence against her is clear and powerful, he will be seen as condoning the Trump administration’s swampy ethics.It would also be quite embarrassing politically.

Will the Democrats gain any leverage against McConnell due to this? Probably not – he’s a craftier politician than they are. His wife will lay low, though. You can probably say ciao to Chao for a while.

Abbott Rolls The Dice

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was in hot soup over his state’s freezeup meltdown. So he did what any politician would do: change the subject.

Abbott announced the end of covid restrictions in his state. All business open 100%. No masks necessary. His hope was that freeing Texans to let the good times roll would deflect them from talking about how badly their government screwed up the power system.

It should work, at least in the short term. Another covid surge in Texas will take a few weeks to materialize, and in the meanwhile people will flock to churches, bars and restaurants (not necessarily in that order) and forget about the power issues.

But chances of another surge are good. When Abbott gave his order, Texas had one of the lowest vaccine rates in the US. It was also in the middle of a small surge in cases from the low point in late February.

If Texas sees a big surge and is one of the only states to roll out the portable morgues again, it could reflect poorly on Abbott. His opponents in both political parties could benefit.

Rolling snake eyes could come back to bite him.

Marjorie Taylor Greene 2, Media 0

If you were wondering whether the media learnt anything from four years of Donald Trump, the answer is ‘not much.’ Freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is the proof.

Greene has said some pretty politically extreme things and associated herself with political calls to action that are borderline criminal. The Democrats are outraged. The Republicans support her. The Dems punish her. Ok, granted, it’s a story. But Greene has made it much more than that.

Firstly, Greene has been able to take a story that might last a few news cycles and keep it front and center for over a week.

Secondly, every story the media runs about her includes a photo. And she has been smart enough to wear a mask with a different proactive political slogan on it every day, doubling her media impact.

Either Greene is brilliant media strategist or the media has learnt nothing from their experience with Trump. It is probably 1/3 the former and 2/3 the latter.

Maybe Greene’s next mask should read, “Media. So sad.”

The Bully (and the) Puplit

A Democratic congresswoman wants to move offices because a Republican congresswoman physically bullied her in the hallway. Does this sound like middle school, or what?

It’s not surprising to find bullying politicians. Donald Trump was an accomplished bully even before he became bully in chief and set an example for the nation. So the fact that his female doppelganger, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, has latched onto bullying is not surprise. The surprise is that the freshman representative is getting away with it.

One might make excuses for her target, freshman Democratic representative Cory Bush. She’s a pastor and might just prefer to turn the other cheek rather than go to battle.

But Nancy Pelosi is another story. Is she really going to let Taylor Greene get away with bullying someone out of their office? Successful bullying just encourages more of it. Of course, Pelosi also has to balance making Taylor Greene a right wing martyr by coming down hard on her.

It will be interesting to see how Pelosi keeps her house in order. Look for the iron fist in the velvet glove.

The Mitch and Joe Show

Chuck Schumer may be the new majority leader of the Senate, but when it really comes down to cutting deals on the big things it is probably going to be Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell that do the tango.

It’s not that Schumer’s a wallflower or irrelevent. He’ll be running 90%+ of the show. But Schumer is new in the role and has two handicaps: ambition and resentment at McConnell and the Republicans. McConnell doesn’t have either of these. He’s 78 and was just elected to another, and probably final, six year term. A mastermind of Senate rules and politics, he has nothing to prove and can operate with dispassionate effectiveness.

Biden is operating from the same place as McConnell. They are the same age and Biden has also reached the top of his ambition. He spent enough time in the Senate – as a senator and as Obama’s emissary there – to know what’s what. If something really difficult comes up, the two of them are going to be the dealmakers.

McConnell’s one distraction is Donald Trump. Trump scared the crap out of him with his insurrection antics. At a minimum, McConnell would like to keep Trump from performing a second act. What he really wants is to remove Trumpism from the Republican party and get it back to where it was before the tea party took it over.

Who knows, maybe Biden will help him.

Taking A Knee For Trump

Reports are that Donald Trump wants to leave Washington in full pomp mode. Red carpet, military bands, a twenty one gun salute. He’s going out standing tall. Will everyone honor him or will some take a knee?

The attendance will be heavily screened, but there will be people there that are not Trump supporters – maintenance staff, technicians, even members of the press. It will only take a few of them taking a knee during all the pomp to get attention. The cameras will surely find them. If they are military they could risk court martial, but they would still be heros to many Americans.

We’ll find out tomorrow morning.