Serving two masters sucks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly rebuked President Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria, saying that a supermajority in the Senate disagreed with the president’s abrupt announcement.
“I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners,” McConnell said Monday in a statement. “Major new conflict between Turkey and our partners in Syria would seriously risk damaging Turkey’s ties to the United States and causing greater isolation for Turkey on the world stage.”
Yes, Graham’s protest was more dramatic, but everything Lindsey does is drama-filled, one might call him a bit of a queen in that respect. More importantly, as critical as Graham remains as a Trumplican with respect to impeachment, Graham will always be a hawkish, foreign policy-oriented senator.
But McConnell is the one who controls Trump’s procedural fate, every bit as much as Putin, if not more, he is the true political machine in the equation and generally prefers to keep his powder dry for domestic policy, where the money gets made. Yet here we are, McConnell clearly calling for Trump to reverse himself, again, and yield to a higher authority – Mitch.
Trump has done this before. The last time Trump reversed his Syria policy, he “sort of” hid the reversal among other moves, and could cast it off as something that “upon further review” he – Trump alone – decided against pulling out. But, having done that once, if Trump reverses himself again this time, he will have signaled that he is no longer running the nation, McConnell is president in all but name.
But if Trump doesn’t reverse himself, McConnell sees that Trump cannot always be corralled for team red. And if Trump cannot be corralled, that is a problem for that same red team, since no one – ever – needed a guiderail more than Trump. Senate Republicans have placed their fate into the hands of a man that will operate outside their parameters, and sell them out, if needed. Moreover, they all know they are risking everything by sticking with Trump even this far, never mind allowing Trump to proceed “alone,” unwilling to bend to their will.
It would be clear to me that the only way that Senate Republicans will allow Trump to remain in office is if they know they control him.
Then there is Putin, who may be the one who actually resolves this matter. Putin would weigh his options, and determine the role for each player going forward. We cannot know, Putin would have to get word to them, and that might be easier said than done. The stakes for getting caught would be awfully high. And perhaps Putin doesn’t hold quite the amount of power we think over McConnell, it is exceedingly difficult to tell. But here we are, the United States of America, and we citizens rather casually talk about Putin’s influence on our president and senate leadership in foreign policy decisions, amazing.
But, no man can serve two masters, and no one knew the truism better than our Founding Fathers, who tried to preclude the issue by having everyone swear fealty to a document as “master.” Trump clearly never meant it, and is now paying dearly.
We said this morning, that Trump’s “foreign debt” was getting called in while his domestic pressure heats up. The pressure isn’t relenting any time soon. Indeed, to Putin, the pressure is the point.