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Republican Cowardice Hits the Wall

Republican Cowardice Hits the Wall

Just hide and wait for him to destroy himself. That’s been the Republican strategy for dealing with Trump since the primary. It failed for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It failed for the party, which is now dominated by Trump’s greedy minions. Now thanks to the cowardice of one Republican in particular, Mitch McConnell, that strategy is close to destroying the Senate.

Remember, just a month ago McConnell’s Senate passed a clean temporary funding bill that would have kept the government open until February. Then Trump saw someone on TV complain about it, and said he wouldn’t sign it. The House, then still under Republican control, dropped it like it was hot.

One of the first actions of the new Democratic House was to pass a temporary spending bill and send it back to the Senate. McConnell refuses to let that bill come to floor because it would pass. If that happened, The Donald might discover that McConnell exists and spew disrespectful tweets about his wattle, or about the corrupt financial deals that made his family wealthy and placed his wife in charge of the Transportation Department. Either one would be uncomfortable, and he’s not going to endure discomfort for something as trivial as the United States.

There are Republicans who think Donald Trump is fantastic. Most come either from the racist religious-nut caucus, or are among what Rick Wilson has called “Donald Trump’s credulous rube, 10-tooth base.” Surprisingly few of these folks are in leadership positions, though their numbers there are rising. The overwhelming bulk of Republican leaders know that Donald Trump is corrupt and incompetent. They worked quietly and ineffectively to stop him, and they would prefer to have someone else in charge. But they aren’t in this business to serve their country. A guy like Paul Ryan wouldn’t skip leg day at the gym to protect America.

Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP is hiding, hoping that The Donald will get distracted by a shiny thing and lose interest in this idiotic project. There is a simple solution to this problem that could be a win for everyone, but it would require a Republican leader to grow a spine. The Senate could pass the bill already approved by the House. Trump, who promised not to sign such a measure, could keep his promise. Instead of vetoing the bill, he could simply refuse to sign it. Then something magic happens, thanks to  Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution:

If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a Law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a Law.

Our juvenile president gets to tell his 10-toothed base that he stood up to Congress. They won’t know the difference. Republicans in Congress to get to claim that they still support wall funding and will pursue it any day now. And Democrats would have stopped the GOP from further defacing private property on the border to appease Republican racists.

Trouble is, someone in the GOP would have to actually speak during a meeting with Trump. No one in the Republican caucus has shown the courage to do that. As this absurd tragedy unfolds, much of the moral and political weight of the GOP’s cowardice is falling on the brittle shoulders of Mitch McConnell. Republicans had hoped to ride this out, skirting responsibility for the evil they’ve unleashed, retaining their personal power and money at public expense. Now Republican cowards find their backs against the wall, the compounding debt from a series of moral compromises looking for its due. Their reckoning looms, and they’ll throw any and all of us under the bus to escape with their gains.


  1. Interesting poll results reported by NPR. There is slippage in support from trump’s base and that’s new and important. The combination of greater harm to the economy than trump’s economic advisors projected (if projections were done at all) and cracks in his base support should send a message to him. But trump’s ego won’t allow him to change course. Therefore, McConnell or enough republican senators will have to act for their own political survival.

  2. Re the cowardly decision by Senate Republicans to support trump’s decision to lift sanctions on Derspersky, this House vote sends a message. Shame on Senate Republicans. Cruz/Cornyn – I’m speaking about you two as well. I wonder if the matter could be brought up again for a second vote in the Senate. There is one more day left for Congress to formally object.

  3. So, here is the situation: Tonight the worst lawyer on the planet stated on CNN there might have been traitorous actions within the campaign, but the puppet tyrant knew nothing about them.

    Meantime, a global warming denier, who has been the acting head of the EPA for a month, is going through the pro forma hoops to gain the “true” title as as head of the EPA, who knows how many judicial appointments are cranked out, and graham is actively cheering to replace Ginsberg, while the shutdown is now measured in weeks, and no end is in sight, other than for services that help voters for the fascist regime.

    Oh, and let’s not get into this gem: ” Giuliani told Cuomo that he only meant Trump’s legal team should get to see Mueller’s final report before it goes public in order to write a response, but stressed that he does not want to alter the report and supports as much of it being published as national security allows.

    “I don’t want to change the report, I want to respond to the report,” he added.
    Giuliani said that he would ideally like the report to be published unredacted so that he and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow could provide a complete counterargument, and that he would not be able to edit the report regardless.

    So, let’s play this out, best case, based on the value system held by so many on this forum aka “let the rule of law play out” aka fantasy.

    1. The Mueller report comes out, in say March 2019. It is heavily redacted, based on “national security concerns”.
    2. Dem’s go to court to get the non-redacted report publicly released. That is stonewalled, after national security concerns argument is destroyed, and finally hits SCOTUS who says “yeah, it has to be released”. (Remember, this is best case aka fantasy where everything aligns.) This happens in likely May or June 2019.
    3. Dem’s hold all kinds of hearings and this is more a trial by public opinion over the summer of 2019.
    4. Fall 2019 Dem’s finally start up utterly futile impeachment move, which of course is stopped by the senate.
    5. Everyone realizes the only “legal” way to remove this monster and his crew is by an election that might be held in late 2020.
    6. By some miracle there are fair and open elections in 2020 and the Dem’s sweep all 3 levels.

    Meantime, by Jan 2021:
    a.Ginsberg’s seat likely falls to another fascist, as well as hundreds of other judicial seats.
    b.Efforts against global warming, where every month is critical, are actually pulled back for 24 months.
    c. The madman decides to pull out of NATO as the russians move on the Baltic States.
    d. Attacks against Iran and possibly Venezuela are initiated.

    Or, a few brave patriots get together, get lucky, and end the madness.

    Oh and EJ, targeted violence has worked many times.
    Ask the IRA, or Menachem Begin in 1944, or Washington in 1775.
    But you keep on believing that peace begets peace. I am sure Chamberlain thought that in Sept 1938.

    1. I’m really enjoying Pelosi getting under Trump’s skin. She seems to know exactly how to stick the knife in and twist it. Even if Trump ends up delivering a SOTU address, this means he basically has to beg Pelosi to be allowed to do it, and she has a great excuse to deny him regardless. That’s a masterful move.

    2. >] “Security issues are both a cover excuse and a valid concern.

      Nahhh, that’s just Pelosi giving the Witless Leader a one-fingered salute – though he’s so dense he probably doesn’t even realize she’s insulting him, just like he didn’t get it at first with Mattis’ letter. 😉

      1. Now Trump blows the cover on Pelosi’s trip to troops in the Afghanistan war zone and NATO HQ and denies use of military planes for the trip. But he’s still going to send Mnuchin and the other grifters to Davos? Mightily fine optics there.

  4. The GOP is now trying to show how brave and principled and so not-racist it is; Liz Cheney is calling on Rep. Steve King to resign. Personally I think King is an ignorant, racist jerk, but I also think he’s getting a raw deal. It is grossly unfair to throw him under the bus while giving Trump a pass on all his racist bullshit (that Wounded Knee crack had to be at least as bad as what King is getting grief over). This isn’t new behavior by King either. So I’m hoping he defies Cheney and the rest of the GOP.

    1. You are so right. He may be the most honest member of Congress even if he is a professed racist.

      FWIW, King voted “for” his censorship.

      I think this is a distraction from bad polling and bad optics of Repubs while giving trump cover for the shutdown he created and can’t solve because he’s arrogant and ignorant of day to day government operations. Does anyone think he or any member of his staff actually did an impact study in advance of pulling this stunt?

    2. EJ

      Speaking of Steve King, I have been laughing over Jodi Ernst’s comment that he “does not represent the people of Iowa.”

      Dear Ms Ernst: Mr King has has been selected by the people of Iowa to speak for them in the House of Representatives. This means that he does, in fact, represent them. Perhaps the choice of words was unfortunate.

      (I am aware that not everyone in Iowa likes Mr King, and I have a lot of sympathy with that. Hopefully enough of them feel this way that he will not be reelected.)

  5. Trump was asked very directly “do you work for the Russians?” and he could not not answer with a simple yes or no. He dodged the question, confiscated his interpreters notes and instructed him not to talk to other admin officials. How was this allowed in the first place?

    Is there any doubt that a Manchurian candidate was installed and our Senate is fully complicit? Apparently, Russia’s won the Cold War with no nukes and by stealth which brings me to my other question. Where are our hackers? Do we have no defenses and an army of troll farms to infiltrate social media platforms?

  6. More on topic than my below post,

    The thing that makes this whole situation scary isn’t 45’s belligerence, it’s the assymetric quality of the battle. The key thing to remember about Republicans’ positions regarding ‘partial government shutdowns’ is that that leaves the federal government running the way they intend in the long term. It’s easy for them to use a shutdown as a hostage situation, because their goal is to kill that same hostage anyway.

    The GOP got smacked by voters when they did this in the 90s, and so prevalent assumption when they shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act was that they’d get similarly smacked. They didn’t, in fact they consolidated more power in the next election, and so they really have no reason to come to an agreement on anything.

    Meanwhile, Koch organizations and Mercer media are already delivering the spin they’ve had a few shutdowns to develop: “If this is causing so much damage to the economy and the regular operation of things, then the government shouldn’t have that much control over the economy and the regular option of things.” This fits cleanly with the Republicans well-oiled ‘break something and then show voters that it’s broken’ dominant strategy.

    Meanwhile, 800,000 furloughed employees are 800,000 opportunities for brain drain and attrition. Now that government shutdowns are fairly common, and now that they are going to be lengthening, this gives workers the incentive to abandon ‘unreliable jobs subject to a dysfuntional Congress’ for jobs in the private sector.

    Not too many years ago I would have argued that once red state farmers stopped receiving subsidies and red state working class whites stopped receiving SNAP, they’d have a come-to-Jesus moment and realize there’s some part of governance they can support. That never happens. They’ll probably lay the blame solely on the shoulders of the Democrats for not “just give him the wall and get on with it” or “preventing us help in their drive to protect criminals” and the whole fact that it shouldn’t even be possible to shut the government down in this manner will be lost to them.

    So yeah, welcome to Kochland, this is exactly how it’s supposed to work. This isn’t an impasse, it’s a policy.

    1. I spoke to this very point in my post below. (GOP, smaller government the real goal so what’s not to like about a shutdown, but gotta play the wall game to keep trump happy.) And, btw, we fire up our base against more brown people coming in.

      I don’t think farmers or their base really matter to the GOP strategy. McConnell withstood almya full year of blatant obstruction of a presidents right to nominate his SC candidate and was rewarded. Why would he play nice now? The GOP is doing what plays publicly to their voter base but sooner or later, the economy is going to become a problem and corporate profits not the pain being experienced by we, the people, will compel action. Selfish nature being hard to deny for too long.

      1. NYT is reporting the puppet tyrant was hours away from stepping to the podium and stating the U.S. was pulling out of NATO, until Kelly and others talked him out of it. Kelly is now gone, and replaced by another far-right wingnut who hates government and multilateralism and of course there is now bolton on the scene. Who will be around the next time the madman rages about NATO? I already painted the step by step process that leads to nuclear war which was predicated on the weakening of NATO.

        Others have already stated the country is being dismantled brick by brick and turned into a libertarian’s wet dream.

        Yet all I hear is “Patience, we will get him with Mueller as the Senate will suddenly see the light and do the sane thing.”

        Sorry, but you are all wrong.

      2. Mary, this madman is one limbaugh or coulter hit piece away from trying to pull the U.S. out of NATO. You seriously think that the rule of law is going to bring him and his handlers and accomplices down?

        What if bolton convinces him to invade Venezuela, or to nuke the nuclear facilities Iran has under a mountain?

        You still think that the democratic institutions in tatters will somehow over-ride this crew? What is your “red line”?

      3. EJ

        Democratic institutions are, in a very real way, all that one can hope for.

        You want violence on the street? Our side isn’t the only one that can do that. Remember that the US Army is the most pro-Trump voter base in the country. Remember that the police forces of most areas skew heavily pro-Trump. If we fight, they’ll simply bring machine guns and kill us. Any mass uprising is doomed to fail as long as the organs of state violence recruit their membership from the far Right.

        There’s another reason. Right now, those organs of state violence are not willing to tolerate disorganised far-Right violence. If the Left rises up in arms, that may change. Look at Colombia or the Spartacist rising in Germany. Once the police are explicitly fighting side by side with the Proud Boys and other extremist groups, they’re also going to start looking the other way when those groups start killing their enemies openly.

        Once you break the taboo against violence, a lot of members of minority groups will get killed at a far faster rate than they currently are.

        So what can one do? One can use other means to seize power. Elections work, especially at a local level. If you can take control of your city’s council, then as well as spending and taxation decisions, you can determine what your local security forces do. Remember Red Vienna and Red Berlin.

        Violence only ever leads to more violence. But the same is trhe of peace.

    2. To expand my point, the same thing is true of Brexit. A hard, unplanned, complete Brexit is likelier than all other options because the only people who want anything to do with Brexit are the people who want a hard, unplanned, complete Brexit.

      They want it for the same reasons American conservatives want the government shutdown — so that they can accrue wealth with zero oversight or recompensation from victims of their greed.

      There’s a book called Democracy in Chains that everyone here should read, a detailed history of the development of the libertarian right’s thoughts and tactics. The key phrase that sums everything up is that a modern conservative would never let democracy get in the way of their capital.

      1. What you say about Brexit and the greed of the elite is so true.

        Fascinating that May’s plan was wiped out by the largest margin in the history of the British House, but the same people voted against said plan for her in a non-confidence the next day.

        The people that voted against the plan were from both sides: One one side those that think any split from the EU is madness, and on the other side, the koch/mercer types and of course, their band of useful idiots, the stupid and racist.

        Sound familiar?

  7. So, what’s with the consolidation of Republicans wrist-smacking Rep. Steve King? He speaks a fairly common Trump era talking point and gets removed from committees and spoken against by the likes of McCarthy and McConnell?

    I don’t understand what their line is. One guy could brandish the Confederate flag and they’d be like, “It’s his heritage,” but the next flies it above the US flag and they be like, “We need to stop him talking like a Confederate.”

    The only answer I can think of to the question “Why now?” is because internal analytics indicates the Republican party is suffering from a, “Yeah, they really are totally racist” headwinds going into 2020…

  8. The puppet tyrant has come out and said he has rejected Graham’s proposal, and is not backing down, while at the same time is apparently backing away from his “national emergency” (which shocks me). So, questions…

    a. I know that some air traffic controllers, and some TSA agents are not getting paid. But, is it ALL of them?

    b. If it is the majority, or even a decent minority, how long can the typical air traffic controller pay the bills without getting paid? They get paid more than the average soul, so I assume/hope they have more savings stashed away.

    c. How much is SNAP affected by this?

    d. Can these psychopaths just decide to start funding portions of the gov’t workforce, while not funding others?

    If this is not a case of an individual being a clear and present danger to the nation, I have no idea what is.

    1. The trump administration have been quietly and selectively cherry-picking segments to operate. The bulk of those who are “non-essential “ I have read are contract employees. Trump waves his Ex Order wand at will and his staff jumps to implement his whims. And The Senate does nada.

  9. Actually, the Daily Kos has pointed out another potential tool in Pelosi’s toolkit. The National Emergency Act contains special provisions that can be invoked immediately upon trump’s declaration of emergency. Here’s the official language and below that a short-hand explanation. If she challenges the emergency, the House votes to end it, the Senate automatically must vote on it. Interesting, no?

    “The National Emergency Act contains provisions that allow either the House or the Senate to produce a resolution to end an emergency declaration. In fact, the law sets a maximum period of six months before the Senate and House must vote on the continuation of an emergency—but it sets no minimum. If Donald Trump actually does declare a national emergency, Pelosi doesn’t have to wait six months. She doesn’t have to wait six minutes. She can immediately call a vote on the resolution to reopen government and it would automatically move to the Senate and it would have to “get a vote”.

    “The National Emergency Act contains provisions that allow either the House or the Senate to produce a resolution to end an emergency declaration. In fact, the law sets a maximum period of six months before the Senate and House must vote on the continuation of an emergency—but it sets no minimum. If Donald Trump actually does declare a national emergency, Pelosi doesn’t have to wait six months. She doesn’t have to wait six minutes. She can immediately call a vote in the House ordering the end of that emergency.

  10. McConnell only has to see how tightly Trump’s grip on Lindsey Graham’s balls has been to know he never wants that for himself. Graham is now advising Trump to open the govt for 3 weeks, and *then* declare a national emergency. What the hell does Trump have on him??? It’s gotta be more than his sexual preference. This level of control is moving to dead girl *and* live boy territory…

    MCconnell’s pressure point has always been his wife. He’s bargained away plenty of stuff in the senate to protect / advance / enrich her.

    Here’s my bet. The only way this impasse is resolved is when both House and Senate have enough votes to override a veto. The question is how long does it take to get there? We’re probably not far from that. There are plenty of vulnerable Republicans who will join that vote if they know it will succeed.

    When defeat is inevitable, any president with two brain cells prefers an article 1 section 7 over a veto override, because they understand the first successful override creates a coalition that severely weakens your veto threat for the rest of your term. Trump lacks that understanding and would probably prefer a veto override since it makes him look stronger (in his mind at least) and it allows him to blame democrats and Republicans rather than his own poor negotiating tactics.

    The real obstacle to a veto override, I suspect, is not McConnell, who has dealt with split votes in his caucus for years, and appears to be mentally checked out for the next 2 years. It’s the House, where McCarthy would be loathe to have his first major action be a split vote to override a veto, and thereby curtail his power before he’s even really started his term.

    But if enough house republicans force the matter, and Pelosi allows some pet projects to be added to allow McCarthy to save some face, it might be doable.

    1. I don’t see Trump taking any face-saving out for several reasons. 1) His experience with negotiating is running roughshod over people without any power to fight back effectively. 2) He lacks the wits to realize that he’s up against someone he can’t bully/ overwhelm with his $ and adjust his approach accordingly. 3) He is terrified of criticism from the likes of RWNJ hacks like Coulter and Limbaugh.

    2. Yes, the number of House members ready to vote to over ride a veto would be more assured, but the Senate remains an obstacle. I assume you feel that the pressure from the House will create sufficient impetus to goad more Senate Republican defections. How do they get to vote if McConnell won’t call a vote?

      Then there is the Jared Kushner ploy to siphon Democratic senators away from opposing the wall….This guy – has he ever attained top secret security status? That used to mean something.

    3. Two points: First, despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans disagree with trump’s shutdown, support within the Republican base for the wall is growing per two current polls. Why would trump cave or the GOP yank his chain?Second, until trump’s base -including his rabid supporters and GOP donors and big business start to feel pain in their wallets, there is no incentive to do anything. After all, Norquist’ pledge to shrink government is working and the republicans disdain for brown people is working in both message and policy.

      But, that financial hit is coming and nothing else matters as much to the power brokers. They will condone an ignoramus but only as long as they are benefiting.

      1. Hi Mary-

        This is where intense horse trading comes in. If the Dems are willing to let House and Senate Republicans save face, then they can get a deal. The only non-negotiable with the Dems is the wall. And Trump is really the only Republican who wants it. Everything else is still on the table. If I was Pelosi or Schumer, I’d trade quite a bit for a veto override (e.g. border security, military funding, and stuffing some pork barrel spending for Republicans that need cover back in their districts). Even tariff / trade issues, etc. Heck, I would trade all of that plus a few tax cuts, and maybe even smooth sailing for a few judges and cabinet appointments, just to re-open government for a few weeks.

        Why would I give away so much? Because the first successful veto override establishes a coalition of Dems and Repubs that can actually get stuff passed. That’s a governing majority which opens up the possibility of getting at least some stuff done the next 2 years. It’s precisely what Trump should want to avoid, but he’s too stupid to understand the implications, which is why the Dems should move heaven and earth for it to happen. (It’s the counterpart to all the advice given to Trump to start his Presidency with a bipartisan issue like infrastructure spending: it would have established a governing coalition that would have made the next several legislative battles much easier to win).

        Of course, the Republicans may still not bite, preferring to commit seppuku for their orange leader (especially since they’d be rightly afraid that Trump would go on a twitter spree if they vote against him), but plenty of them may be willing to turn on him if Pelosi and Schumer can promise that their 2020 prospects are better with them than with Trump.

      2. Hmm, Shumer and Pelosi have already demonstrated they can garner some repubs on tough issues. This is not a game. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are in dire straits. I think Nancy Pelosi is going to have to be strong but careful to not appear to be toying with shutdown deals. Still, Democratic leadership resistance at this level has been MIA for a long time and they know the country opposes this. I heard today on NPR that there are shortages of staff needed to process medication requests for the opioid crisis centers. That problem affects a lot of people. Whatever the solution, my hope is that those whose jobs and lives have been pawns in this absurd situation will remember who started it and who (McConnell) refused to allow a vote on re-opening government. Somehow, someway, someone has got to stand up to trump and force republicans to the table. You’re suggesting bribes which may be the most practical choice. I’d rather it be through public pressure or some cataclysm of events that badly embarrassed or scared the bejesus out of republicans. What could that be?

  11. I got a column a few days ago concerning Martin Luther King Day in my email. Then you retracted it. Did you send it out a week too soon?

    I think sooner rather than later McConnell is going to have to over ride our pea brain president and pass a spending bill. The whole idea of declaring an emergency and taking defense money to fund a wall shows how uninformed Trump is. Most of defense money is spent in red districts. Just like Trump’s tariffs he has no idea who is hurt by the policy. His voters are disproportional effected by these bad policies.

    The reason many people vote for Trump ( who are a minority ) is because they wanted an Authoritarian who would imposed their bigoted world view on the rest of us. I think the Senate and Presidency most likely will be in democrat hands after 2020. I prefer divided government. But you have to have compromise for it to work. And for a long time the GOP stratagem has been a burnt earth one. Just a run after immediate power with no concern for the long term. The majority of us have had enough. And I think the change is starting more at the state and local level than the federal level. Reform of voting rights, markets and ant-corruption is finally happening.

    1. Well stated, Stephen. I agree entirely. I confess I am worried for both short term and long term…so much damage being done to our institutions, regulations, loss of brain power, environment…a very long list. Some of it can be corrected in two years but this is a long time to have such a man in power, driven by those who share his views but are so much smarter at implementing them. (McConnell, Miller, etc)

      Ready this today and it is worth sharing. Health care is a particular concern for me as is the history of how the current legal challenge was developed. Republicans have been utilizing ALEC for years for legislation, and now the red state AGs are getting in the game –

  12. Republicans who truly cared about the country would have taken the Hamilton option the way you did. But McConnell and his ilk went for the Devil’s bargain, and the Devil always delivers- they got 2 SCOTUS seats, other judiciary positions, and that obscene tax cut. But now they are finding out the payment to the Devil is going to be more than they wanted to pay. The Dems have leverage now, and no incentive to give in. A woman who raised 5 children knows that giving in to a temper tantrum guarantees more tantrums. If Donnie had bothered to help parent his kids, maybe he would had learned that. Maybe

    What would it take to have McConnel replaced as majority leader?

      1. I think that’s the most likely, but I wonder if a few GOP Senators might go rogue as the pressure mounts. Murkowski would be the first, I predict, because Alaska has a proportionally large amount of income from Federal jobs, and she already ran as an Indy to defeat an attack from her right flank. Then you have Collins and Gardner, who are ripe for the Dems to pick off next year. IIRC Alexander and Roberts are retiring, and they might decide that they’ve had enough shutdown standoff. And maybe Romney might decide to back up his stern words (not betting on it, but it theoretically could happen).

    1. The war is already lost. Like you pointed out, the judiciary is now tilted towards the far right for decades, and it is getting worse by the week. And Ginsberg’s health, two more years……..

      Perversely, I would very much like to hear how the monster in the Senate would justify it if Ginsberg gives up her position or dies in the last year of the puppet tyrant’s last year. Only way democracy is restored is with very undemocratic methods. That means calling the election illegitimate, roll back every law, roll back every appointment, and execute a number of people for treason.

      In other words. do something never considered by any original framer.

      1. No Mary. Prosecute, then execute.
        But given how the judiciary is now lost to the far right, there will be no trials for the traitors.

        There will be trials for doctors performing what will then be illegal abortions, but no trials for the the evil people who set up the conditions for Roe v Wade to be overturned.

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