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.
Have you noticed how Ted Cruz is now the de-facto face of the senators against democracy? A week ago it was only Senator Josh Hawley who was against the ceremonial certification of the presidential election results. Then a number of other senators signed on and all of the sudden the news is all Cruz.
The Donald Trump years must have been hard for Cruz. Other than Trump, there is no Republican politician more narcissistic and ready to recklessly blow stuff up than Cruz. And one could argue that Trump is not really a Republican, which leaves Cruz in first place. He was Trump’s strongest competitor in the 2016 primaries.
One explanation for Cruz muscling his way into the media spotlight is that he wants to get Trump’s base behind him when he runs for Senate again in 4 years. The more Cruz-like explanation is that he figures Trump is toast and wants to inherit his mantle when he runs for president in 2024.
Cruz probably figures that after Trump leaves office his legal troubles are going to pile on. The pile will be so deep that even Trump will be damaged goods, maybe even a convicted felon. Cruz is preparing to assume the role of bomb-thrower-in-chief.
Either way, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Donald Trump’s lawyers have made their case. Sure, the President did things that might have been wrong or questionable. But what he did isn’t bad enough to deserve impeachment.
Here’s the question: After Trump is acquitted, do the Democrats introduce a motion in the Senate to censure Trump?
It might be a smart political move. Of course, it would have no chance of passing, but it would put Republican senators on record saying that Trump’s behavior is not even worthy of a censure.
Or the Democrats could go even farther and introduce a resolution endorsing Trump’s behavior and saying that it was “perfect”. Would Republicans vote for that one? Would Trump be angry if they didn’t?