Posted by Curt on 2 March, 2021 at 7:46 pm. 2 comments already!


By Revolver

Donald Trump isn’t going away.

That was the loud, clear, and definitive message of last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. President Trump’s first speech since leaving office was the only event of real importance, and it showed that he remains by far the most popular and most important figure in conservative, nationalist politics.

And that fact drives home an important reality: Whether he plans another presidential run or not, President Trump must shape the Republican Party in a positive direction. And that means wielding his massive popularity carefully.

Understandably, the chief target of President Trump’s speech was the brand-new Biden administration, and the unprecedented speed with which it is moving to put foreign countries and oligarchs first and the American people last.

But no less important was President Trump’s attack on the Republican leaders who turned against his presidency, and allied with Democrats who blamed him unjustly for the Capitol riot:

President Trump didn’t just ridicule his foes. He made it clear exactly what should happen to them going forward: They should be primaried out of office as soon as possible.

“The Republicans do not stick together. The RINOs that we’re surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party and the American worker and will destroy our country itself. The RINOs, Republican in name only. But the Republican Party is united. The only division is between a handful of Washington, DC, establishment, political hacks, and everybody else all over the country. … And that’s why I’m announcing that I will be actively working to elect strong, tough and smart Republican leaders.”

The President’s pledge is far from an empty one. As he made clear during his speech, “President Trump’s endorsement is the most powerful asset in politics.” It’s true. Even after leaving office, Donald Trump is by far the most popular Republican within the party, and he has far more power than anyone else (certainly far more than any of his enemies) to shape the party in the way he sees fit.

But this has been a double-edged sword. The president’s endorsement is powerful, but he has given it away too freely, to those who do not share his transformative vision for America. That applies both to his endorsements for elected office, and those he personally hired to implement his America-first agenda as president.

Too often, Donald Trump has mistaken external displays of loyalty for actual commitment to his agenda. And too often, he has failed to name his enemies until they have already planted their knives in him.

Sunday’s speech was a major example. The president named the Republicans who sought to impeach him and bar him from a future presidential run. Many of these turncoats had previously benefited from Trump’s support. Ben Sasse secured a Trump endorsement in 2019. Even with endless reasons to distrust him, the president had even handed an endorsement to Mitt Romney in 2018.

But well beyond Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, there have been far more Republican opportunists who praised him publicly while waging war on his agenda. And Donald Trump has been far too slow to call them out as well.

Mitch McConnell

Perhaps no elected Republican has better mastered the art of pandering to Trump while doing nothing for his agenda than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

During his CPAC speech, Trump briefly seemed to be setting up an attack on McConnell, but instead he backed off, saying he had no regrets about endorsing him in 2020:

The president shouldn’t have pulled his punch. More than any other lawmaker, Mitch McConnell stood in the way of Donald Trump accomplishing more as presidentTrump was swept into power with the largest mandate for a Republican president in nearly a century. Republicans had 52 seats in the Senate and more than 240 in the House. With enough will, they could absolutely have implemented everything Trump ran on.

But that didn’t happen. McConnell did what Senate Republicans have done for decades now. He hid behind the Senate filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes for any legislation to pass. The filibuster is fake and can be removed at any time. McConnell did exactly that in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, but he kept the filibuster around for normal legislation. Why? Because the filibuster doesn’t protect the minority. It protects the majority from votes it doesn’t actually want to take. And McConnell didn’t actually want to pass Trump’s 2016 agenda. He didn’t want a rapidly built border wall, with real teeth to deportations and mandatory E-Verify for employers.

McConnell’s blocking tactics continued all the way through the 2020 election. Last summer and fall, he blocked the passage of new coronavirus stimulus, particularly a second round of cash payments to ordinary Americans. Had those payments passed, President Trump almost certainly would have been reelected. Instead, Trump lost narrowly…not that McConnell was likely to mind.

McConnell deserves no credit for pushing through President Trump’s judicial nominees. McConnell would have done that for any president, because the nominees were the same people he’d have chosen. But any time Donald Trump’s political realignment called for McConnell to change, he preferred to evade and undermine.

Nevertheless, McConnell survived. He survived by praising the president publicly. Even now, he says he’d “absolutely” support Trump in 2024 if he wins the nomination. Does McConnell mean it? Obviously not at all. It’s a purely cynical ploy to stave off Trump’s anger and protect his own position. But so far, it has worked.

Trump shouldn’t be fooled by this. McConnell has always been a snake in the grass and should be honestly labeled as such. Republicans deserve a Senate leader for whom the America-first agenda is second-nature.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley never should have been a part of the Trump administration in the first place. The governor of South Carolina didn’t merely oppose Trump in 2016. That is standard politics, and forgivable. But Haley went several steps further and overtly compared President Trump to mass murderer Dylann Roof:

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