Donald Trump Is the Republican Party

Donald Trump
February 7, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: U.S. PoliticsJoe Biden2024 ElectionGOPMAGADonald Trump

Donald Trump Is the Republican Party

Donald Trump is reasserting his dominance over the GOP while McConnell loses his grip on power. Exhibit A is the collapse of the border deal, which McConnell assumed would cement Republican support for Ukraine aid. Instead, the Republican party is fracturing.

 

So much for Ronna McDaniel. She made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago on Monday, where Donald Trump apparently struck again. After displaying her loyalty to Trump for years—including effacing the dreaded word “Romney” from her name—she is now headed for the exits after the South Carolina primary takes place. The Republican National Committee had the temerity to hold primary debates rather than anoint Trump, and it only has $8 million in its coffers.

Trump is displeased. “I think she did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK, initially, in the RNC. I would say right now, there’ll probably be some changes made,” Trump said on Sunday on Fox News.

 

Her ouster is not an isolated event but part and parcel of a larger purge taking place in the GOP as Trump expands his control over it.

The next person in Trump’s sights is Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell will pay a heavy price for trying to have it both ways during the second impeachment of Trump for January 6. McConnell refused to vote to impeach Trump, on the one hand, but denounced him after the trial concluded, on the other. He assumed that Trump was a spent force and that the courts would punish him for his transgressions.

Instead, Trump is reasserting his dominance over the GOP while McConnell loses his grip on power. Exhibit A is the collapse of the border deal, which McConnell assumed would cement Republican support for Ukraine aid. Instead, the Republican party is fracturing.

A number of Senate Republicans are now openly attacking McConnell, including Sens. Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz. At a press conference, Cruz announced it was time for McConnell to step down as leader: “I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans.” McConnell, the mastermind of stacking the Supreme Court with conservatives, as RINO. Who knew?

Navigating a Ukraine funding bill through the House will be a treacherous endeavor. As Edward Luce pithily puts it, Biden confronts a “do-harm Congress.” He needs to run against it, much as Harry S. Truman ran against a “do-nothing” Congress in 1948 when he came from behind to defeat Thomas Dewey.

Luce suggests that Biden must focus almost exclusively on painting the GOP as the obstructionist cat’s-paw of Trump—a study in dysfunction, Biden made a start yesterday with his speech decrying Trump’s successful blockade of the border bill. Trump is the de facto head of the House. Trump, not Johnson, speaks for the House. Few Republicans are prepared to challenge, let alone defy, him.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is in thrall to Trump, delivered two inadvertent victories to Biden on Monday evening, failing to secure the impeachment of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayoras Kas and the passage of aid to Israel. So far, Johnson has whiffed twice. Will it be three strikes, and you’re out? The hardliners in the House are already pondering about ousting him from his leadership position. Further upheaval in the House would amplify Biden’s message that once Trump is in the driver’s seat, the result is chaos.

Donald Trump

So far, Trump has thwarted funding to Ukraine, but a slender pathway will continue to exist as long as the Senate approves aid. Ukraine’s supporters in America are continuing to battle for it. Melinda Haring, a senior advisor at Razom for Ukraine, told me, “It will take longer than anyone expects, and the process will require somersaults and arcane procedures, but Congress will eventually authorize more assistance to Ukraine. Washington cannot leave Kyiv high and dry.” As Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ups his savage assault on Ukraine, the stakes could hardly be higher.

About the Author

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Reuters, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by The New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, coming soon.

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