December 31, 2020
Pearl River When Kentucky Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the voice of reason for the Republicans, you have to know we’re facing real trouble.
McConnell had appealed to his caucus in the Senate for no one to raise an objection on January 6th, when Congress receives and accepts the certified votes from the states and the Electoral College. There were of course some hardliners and hotheads in the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives who were hot to trot, but they would just be whistling in the wind, if no Senator stepped up to join them. Since the results of the election are well-known and the elevation of Joe Biden to the presidency is an accepted reality, McConnell wanted to avoid the embarrassment of having Republicans look foolish and pathetic, especially with the Georgia runoff elections for two Senate seats held now by Republicans up for grabs the next day.
Good luck with that, Mitch. Ambition can blind good sense, so sure enough one of the many Republican presidential wannabes saw a chance to go from unknown to at least, “who’s that?” This time it was Missouri’s youngish, freshman Senator Josh Hawley. He made no claims of voter fraud, but said he was stepping up to give voice to those who wanted to still have their say about the election. Yeah, right, Josh. I’m sure it had nothing to do with making a craven unsubtle appeal to begin craving out some of Trump’s hardcore base for his own play.
All of this will be political theater without any drama, since the end of the act is already certain. For those who bother to watch, this farce will feature star turns of the wannabes and those who want to be known as the last of the Trump mouth breathers in order to either court his support or avoid his angry revenge.
What worries me is that this will be the first episode of many over the next four years where the Republican presidential aspirants for 2024’s contest will be auditioning for Trump’s base. That’s scary, as Hawley is now proving, since there are likely to be no limits. How will these hopefuls be able to out-Trump Trump? I cringe at the thought, especially because that means no end of showboating and obstruction whenever these folks see an opportunity to thrust themselves into the limelight and wave the bloody shirt of Trumpism for all to see.
Just remembering the pack that Trump managed to lead out of the 2016 primaries should make all of us uneasy, but there’s more and likely worse to come now. The Republican National Committee has invited a dozen of these folks to audition in January. The list of wannabe invitees will feature Republican senators, Tim Scott (S.C.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Miss.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.). Governors invited were South Dakota’s Kristie Noem, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Texas’s Greg Abbott and Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey. Don’t forget Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and Vice President Mike Pence, who are also on the list of invitees.
Oh, and of course, Donald Trump. See what I mean? The next four years are still going to be a horrible merry-go-round, as this gang tries to outdo themselves to find a place with the Trump base and build one of their own. It won’t be pretty.