It has been a relief to wake up every morning and not be confronted with some idiotic or hateful act from Trump. While his banning from Twitter and Facebook has some problematic aspects that I am planning to address at a future date, there is no question that his inability to make waves on an hourly basis has brought back some level of calm to political discourse.
But Trump is not silent and yesterday he issued a lengthy statement where he blasted Republican senator Mitch McConnell for strongly criticizing him on the senate floor and in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, even though McConnell had acquitted him at the impeachment trial.
“There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility,” McConnell wrote Monday in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of the riot. “His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.”
The statement was vintage Trump, using childish insults, calling McConnell a “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack” and referred to his “dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality”. He even said that “McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings” even though those holdings come via his wife Elaine Chao whom Trump himself appointed to his cabinet as transportation secretary. But consistency has never been Trump’s strong suit. There are reports that Trump’s original draft was even more childish, drawing attention to McConnells multiple chins but advisors persuaded him to tone it down.
It looks like there is going to be a fight for dominance of the Republican party, between a bombastic flailing slugger in Trump versus a cagey political infighter in McConnell. Lines are being drawn between those who think that Trump must remain as the leader of the party and those who think he will bring it down. The real test will be what happens at the state and even down to the very local levels which select their leaders on a more frequent basis. If the Trumpists retain control of those levers of party influence, then he can remain a significant force.
It will be interesting to see how other prominent Republicans who have presidential ambitions line up. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have clearly thrown in their lot with Trump, no doubt hoping to reap his followers if Trump should not run again. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton and others seem to be keeping their options open, seeing which was the wind blows. Lindsey Graham is as usual saying whatever will get him on TV.