By Julie Kelly
It should surprise no one that the Republican Senate—the most inept collection of politicians in recent memory—will end the Trump era in a state of disarray, discord, and dysfunction.
What Americans have witnessed over the past four years, as I’ve written several times, is a textbook example of political power squandered. Republican senators, rather than maximize the unexpected gift of a Republican White House, Senate, and House of Representatives to advance long-promised “conservative” policies, wasted the opportunity while giving political cover to both the corrupt president who preceded Donald Trump and the one who will succeed him.
The first half of Trump’s presidency was sabotaged by a special counsel investigation into Russian collusion, an imaginary crime that Senate Republicans knew was a farce from the start, yet defended anyway. While Robert Mueller’s partisan probe obscured the real scandal—the unprecedented abuse of the country’s law enforcement and surveillance apparatus to target a rival presidential candidate and then incoming president—Republicans in charge of powerful Senate committees did little more than write stern letters and make empty threats on cable news shows in a failed attempt to “get to the bottom” of Russiagate.
Investigations into the Biden family’s overseas racket were slow-walked; Republicans refused to compel Hunter Biden to testify in the president’s impeachment trial, an event that would have torpedoed Biden’s candidacy and elevated a surefire loser such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to the top of the Democratic presidential ticket.
A once-in-a-generation chance to purge the Beltway of fossilized institutionalists was bypassed. Ditto for major reforms of immigration law, foreign affairs, trade agreements, federal regulations, and climate change activism. The president almost single-handedly retooled failed national policies through executive orders or administrative decree; in most cases, especially related to U.S. military presence abroad, Senate Republicans thwarted rather than aided the Trump Administration.
“Conservative” achievements over the past four years belong solely to the president and his team, not to congressional Republicans.
And when Mitt Romney, the junior Republican senator from Utah and two-time losing Republican presidential candidate, became the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president of his own political party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did nothing to punish him. When asked by a reporter if McConnell would expel Romney from the Republican conference, something a Democratic leader would do without a second of hesitation, McConnell only said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Romney’s vote.
Senate Republicans made nary a peep as unscientific lockdowns backed by governors of both parties destroyed sectors of the once-thriving U.S. economy, kept kids out of schools for months, and shuttered churches. The alleged party of liberty and freedom prostrated before the altar of pseudoscience and the almighty Dr. Anthony Fauci.
But McConnell’s surrender caucus underperformed, even in comparison to the lowest of metrics, in recent weeks as they “begged” (a word they’ve actually, and embarrassingly, used in text messages soliciting donations) Republican voters in Georgia to keep them in charge for two more years.
A so-called COVID-19 relief bill included hundreds of billions in giveaways to Democratic constituencies including teachers’ unions, college administrators, and climate activists. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) defended tens of billions in handouts to other countries, turning a deaf ear to the suffering of millions of Americans bankrupted by government-imposed lockdown orders.
When the president demanded a $2,000 per person stimulus check instead of the $600 per person compromise reached by congressional Republicans and Democrats, McConnell refused to hear it.
The Senate voted to override the president’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, a $740 billion behemoth that Trump wanted to use as a vehicle to repeal Section 230, another pledge that Senate Republicans failed to fulfill. (When asked over the weekend if she would have voted to override the president’s veto, Kelly Loeffler, one of the candidates facing a run-off in Georgia this week, refused to answer.)