When it comes to the events of the last 10 days, to borrow a phrase from Rachel Maddow, “Stick a pin in this.” And no, I don’t mean everything that has happened in the last 10 days, you’d need a cork board the size of Oklahoma. But over the last little while, there has been a series of events, coming from one particular source, that when taken separately, seem to be only mildly interesting anomalies, but when combined together, may well suggest a sea change.
It seems to me that Donald J Trump, Pestquire, appears to be on the way to losing his grip on the GPO Senate. No, they’re by no means ready to impeach him yet, but the signs are starting to appear that GOP Senators are more open to acts of defiance against Trump. Personally, I think that at least some of this is due to the results of the midterms. Beto’s stronger than expected showing in Texas against “Calgary” Teddy Cruz showed weakness. He lost seats he campaigned like hell for in West Virginia, Montana, and Arizona, incoming Florida senator Rick Scott kept His Lowness at a double arms length distance, and Mitt Romney winning in Utah is going to leave him one short in the “congenital flunky” department, with the departure of Orrin Hatch. 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020 have come, or are starting to come to terms with the fact that Trump’s coattails are not as long as they had hoped.
In the last 10 days, the GOP dominated senate has handed Trump one stinging rebuke after another, and done so in public. Here are just a few examples;
- Not only did the US Senate rebuke Trump for his inherent chumminess with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by passing a resolution condemning the kingdom, they took the extra step of declaring that they found the Crown Prince directly responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This sent a strong message that as far as the Senate is concerned, Saudi Arabia is on probation, whether Trump likes it or not.
- Outgoing GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, all by his little lonesome, managed to put the kibosh on at least 23 judicial nominees that Trump and McConnell had planned on ramming through before the holiday break. I am not a senate scholar, so I’ll leave it up to someone more experienced to enlighten me in the comments, but considering that when McConnell gavels the Senate into recess, when they adjourn, they will not come back in session until the new class is sworn in, I’m not sure whether these judicial nominees will have to go through their judicial committee nominations again or not.
- Following Trump’s moronic, and seemingly gratuitous decision to yank all 2,00 of our remaining troops out of Syria, like they had reached the end of an invisible political bungee cord, , several GOP senators, including some who will return to Washington in January, slammed Trump for the ill advised move. My favorite was Lindsey Graham, stating in the well of the Senate that Trump’s contention that we had defeated ISIS was “fake news.”
- Trump could not have been more clear in his nationally televised hissy fit with “Chuck and Nancy,” if he didn’t get the $5 billion in funding for the wall he wanted, he would “proudly” take the mantle of shutting down the government. What was the Senate’s measured response to his non negotiable demand? To pass a clean continuing resolution, funding the government through February 8th of next year. On a lousy voice vote no less. Even stalwart Trump supporters like Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell voted for the resolution. Then McConnell sent the mess to the House to clean up for once, and adjourned the Senate. Paul Ryan, craven poltroon that he is, voted to hang the $5 billion to the CR and sent it back to the Senate. Once the Senate kills it tomorrow, Trump will proudly have his shutdown, which Nancy Pelosi will fix on January 3rd, by passing a clean CR for McConnell to pass as well.
As I write this, there has as of yet been no official response from any GOP
senators, either to the sudden resignation of secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, in clear protest of Trump’s policies, or to the late day announcement that Trump may as well go for a double play, and decimate our troops in Afghanistan as well. But if recent performance is anything to go by, their words will be cold comfort for Glorious Bleater.
I think that what has changed is the GOP Senate’s perception of Trump brought on by his own actions. Up until now, Trump has confined to basically dicking around with largely domestic issues, and in ways that they could justify. But the almost universal international condemnation, not only for Trump, but for congress going along with him, in the killing of Khashoggi, has put them in a bind. His publicized rant proclaiming how “proud” he would be to shut down the government over his wet dream wall will be played in every campaign ad in 2020, and there are 22 of them who will have to run under the same banner as this Froot Loop. And his blithe willingness to consign the Kurd’s, one of our best and most capable allies in fighting ISIS to slaughter, at the hands of the Turks no less, will only serve to make us look unreliable and untrustworthy to the very people we would need to support us in another true national emergency.
The fundamental image of the US Senate will change on January 3, 2019, and not in a way that is helpful for either McConnell or the GOP. Up until now, most of the more obnoxious insanity has been spawned in the lunatic GOP House, and win or lose, they got most of the spotlight. But now, anything that Trump wants to get done legislatively will have to originate in a friendly Senate, putting the spotlight firmly on them. Not only that, but the Democrats in the House will do two things. They will pass legislation that is popular with the public, and leave it up to the GOP in the Senate to face the music for rejecting it, and they will hold public investigations, turning over the Trump rock, and daring McConnell and his goofy minions to do something about it.
Here is what I’m going to be watching like a hawk after January 3rd. Nominations. And no, I don’t mean Democratic nominees for President, I mean Trump nominees for various positions. Trump is going to have to nominate a new Attorney General, a new UN Ambassador, a new Secretary of Defense, a new Secretary of the Interior, and quite possibly a new DHS Secretary. because of the manifest corruption of the majority of cabinet members he has lost, and the damning reasons for the departures of Sessions and Mattis, the new nominees are going to be examined down to their toenails. Up until now, Trump has nominated spineless, greedy toadies for these positions. But polling is already showing that the voting population is tiring of watching the “swamp” reach the depth of the tidal basin. His new Attorney General will be under an especially bright spotlight, considering the transparency of the con Trump pulled with Matt Whitaker, and his replacement, Bill Barr, has publicly shown his animus to Mueller and his investigation. The turnout for the 2018 midterms proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that people are engaged, and watching, and their performance in both the committee hearings, as well as their confirmation votes, are going to be parsed much more closely than they are used to.
So no, don’t call the caterer to plan your impeachment parties just yet, the Senate still has a long way to go. But they are already showing the first baby steps of independence, and any parent knows what comes immediately after those first, halting steps. And as little as the GOP may care about the rest of us, it doesn’t serve their greater purpose to have our democratic government topple. And it is becoming ominously clear that Trump is taking us closer to that precipice with every decision he makes. Don’t touch that dial.
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