Updated: Feb 18
Former President Donald Trump broke his relative silence Tuesday with a preposterous and rambling tirade, apparently directed to Republicans, petulantly writing in part that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell “is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."
Trump also attacked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was his administration’s transportation secretary. He used many broad clichés and outright fabrications that undoubtedly will "feed the beasts" of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham for a few days, but it's wholly disingenuous.
McConnell voted to acquit Trump, yet lambasted him, with facts, in a 20-minute speech on the Senate floor Saturday, once voting concluded. He spoke of Trump's "disgraceful dereliction of duty" and "conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole.” The Kentuckian also wrote a strong editorial in Monday's Wall Street Journal, defending the overall vote to acquit but also pointing out the horrors of Jan. 6.
"There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world's largest megaphone," McConnell wrote. "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 Journal Editorial Board, supportive of most Trump policies, opined that the former president’s political career is finished, as has been the case for prior defeated Republican presidents.
Trump’s rant was bizarrely timed for someone who just lost his re-election and only has one narrow win against the least popular Democrat nominee in decades. He failed to get above 47 percent of the vote in two national elections against lackluster opponents. Yet he lectured someone about “winning” that just won re-election in Kentucky by 20 points and has a long record of electoral success?
The 45th president continued rewriting history by bemoaning McConnell’s unwillingness to go left of even Democrats and nearly quadruple the proposed government stimulus in late December.
Of course the reason ludicrous $2,000 checks were even an item is Trump invented the issue to undermine his own party at the last minute after a COVID deal already had been reached, while Trump sat on the negotiation sidelines.
I traveled throughout Georgia right before the Jan. 5 runoffs. No one talked stimulus; most, unfortunately, echoed Trumpian rants about his “landslide being stolen” by corrupted voting machines. This contributed to Republicans losing their Senate majority by pushing Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue into backing Trump’s inane attacks and suggestions of an "illegal and invalid" Georgia election.
The main reason Republicans lost the Peach State is Trump divided the party for nine weeks with outlandish attacks on Georgia officials who rightly refused to endorse his conspiracy theories. He discouraged Republican turnout in contests where they had no margin for error. Trump depressed his own voters’ turnout by sowing doubt. He even continued to claim electoral victory Wednesday when discussing Rush Limbaugh's death.
Donald Trump helped Democrats win Georgia. Period. Mitch McConnell shares no blame.
I prefer Republicans that don't lose presidential elections to opponents who barely campaign, then drag the party into a conspiratorial vortex, while handing Democrats control of the entire legislative apparatus. I prefer Republicans currently working hard in D.C., not lounging and lashing out in Mar-a-Lago.
Never forget McConnell also carried Trump’s legislative agenda, including augmenting the president's legacy via record-setting judicial confirmations. Trump ignores this now because he's a purely transactional narcissist; only if you are say nice things about him, does he like you.
It’s almost like Trump forgot he oversaw losses in the House, Senate and Oval Office in only four years. This was the first time in nearly a century a president failed so miserably. And these attacks only help Democrats. Is repugnant Steve Bannon — who tried to oust McConnell in 2017, while losing ruby-red Alabama in the process — advising Trump again on how to fail?
Being more mature than the former president, McConnell will reply at a time of his choosing, in a manner that maximizes his party's chances of winning back the majority. Or he'll take the high ground and ignore Trump's latest tantrum; that's what winners do.
As Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Despite possessing all the powers of incumbency and leading a united GOP, Mr. Trump lost the presidency. If he returned for another White House contest, leading a divided party at war with itself and out of power, he’d be wiped out."
And as Michael Barone pointed out in Sunday's New York Post, Trump’s support already is waning.
Echelon Insights polls showed 59 percent of Republican voters supported Trump and only 30 percent supported the Republican Party pre election. After the November elections, polls showed an even split. Following the Capitol assault, only 38 percent primarily supported Trump and nearly 50 percent primarily supported the GOP.