With Trump’s pilgrimage, McCarthy puts political hopes above democracy

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On his trip to the ex-president’s golf resort in New Jersey on Thursday, Washington was shocked by new revelations about Trump’s insane last days in office and his refusal to leave office peacefully after a clear election defeat. For example, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley feared Trump might attempt to take control of the military in order to orchestrate a coup, according to a forthcoming book by two Washington Post reporters.
The House minority leader re-showering Trump with the loyalty he craves came as the former commander in chief continued to cloud confidence in American democracy with false and desperate claims of mass electoral fraud and McCarthy debated who to call to the House of Representatives Committee is supposed to investigate the January 6 uprising that Trump instigated.
With this in mind, it is hard to see McCarthy’s gesture as anything other than acceptance of Trump’s unique attempt to destroy the US political system and its autocratic tendencies. That the purpose of the visit was to discuss the midterm elections and party fundraising also suggests that McCarthy plans to build a 2022 campaign based on Trump’s insurrectionary reasons.

For Trump there are no political costs due to multiple abuse of power. On the contrary, as he is trying to rehabilitate his reputation ahead of a possible 2024 presidential nomination based on his “big lie” that his election was stolen.

“I enjoyed meeting President Trump today,” McCarthy said in a statement following the meeting. “We had a productive conversation about record Republican funding, the upcoming special election in Congress, and the latest work being done to reach out to Democrats at risk.” The California Republican added that he was looking forward to working with us on the interim balance sheet.

Embodying the strange political universe McCarthy inhabits today, he left Trump’s side for an evening at the White House with President Joe Biden – whose patron denies he was legitimately elected. Biden’s guest of honor, Chancellor Angela Merkel, was one of the foreign leaders whom Trump despises most.

McCarthy’s previous comments left little doubt that Trump’s legacy will be up for election in 2022, and even the GOP leader of the House of Representatives believes that reinforcing Trump’s false fraud allegations is necessary for his own path to power.

However, McCarthy is also taking a risk by pinning his own political dreams so firmly to Trump – and not just because of the ex-president’s ability to alienate more moderate suburban voters. Given Trump’s aura within the GOP ranks of the House of Representatives, the minority leader is committed to any extreme tactic the former president might dictate in the coming months. Any deviation from Trump’s course could potentially weaken McCarthy’s position in the House of Representatives GOP conference as he works to build support for the election as spokesman if his party wins a majority next year. His fate now rests in the hands of an ex-president who has been shown to have discarded political allies when they are no longer useful.

It is noteworthy that while avoiding open confrontations with Trump and indulging in his grassroots, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has made no effort to reach out to a former president he sees as a burden.

New evidence of Trump’s threat

The Trump-McCarthy relationship – repaired when California lawmakers paid homage to the GOP leader in political exile in Mar-a-Lago in January – says it all about the modern Republican Party.

Someone vying to speak in a normal political world might be expected to protect the infrastructure of American political freedoms – such as free elections, the sanctity of the US Capitol itself, and democratic governance.

But McCarthy met Trump again after horrific new footage was released in recent days from supporters of the former president invading the Capitol and attacking police officers. Hours before McCarthy arrived in Bedminster, new revelations surfaced about how the Pentagon’s top generals had agreed on a rolling resignation strategy to protect the rule of law and democracy should Trump attempt a coup.

By continuing to treat the ex-president as the de facto leader of the GOP despite such abuses of power and violations of the facts, McCarthy is making a strong impression that his political hopes take precedence over the integrity of the US political system.

When meeting the ex-president, McCarthy could reflect the preferences of the GOP’s predominantly pro-Trump base. And given the ex-president’s power in this bloc, he’s likely making a shrewd, if transactional, political calculation about the best way to get the house back next year.

But he also ignores one of the key functions of the legislature: holding the presidency accountable.

Finally, he wonders who to nominate from among the ranks of the GOP for the January 6 uprising for the select committee.

After the attack on the Capitol, McCarthy said the ex-president was in charge. But when the reality of Trump’s undiminished influence on the Republican base became clear, he soon changed his mind.

He has already buckled before Trump on the matter – derailing a bipartisan House of Representatives compromise on an independent commission to investigate the Capitol attack.

A source familiar with Thursday’s meeting insisted that neither the riot nor the committee showed up. However, it would be no surprise if the Republican leader of the House of Representatives now chooses lawmakers to Trump’s taste that could turn panel hearings into the kind of partisan television circus the ex-president will enjoy, further complicating an economic record of outrage.

McCarthy also revealed that he was the ex-president’s husband by directing the overthrow of Wyoming MP Liz Cheney from the third-tier Republican leadership position in the House of Representatives after telling the truth about Jan. 6 and repeatedly denouncing Trump’s election lies.

McCarthy’s refusal to abandon his relationship with Trump and his decision to fix it is the latest worrying sign that large parts of the Republican Party have turned their backs on democracy’s standards and commitments.

The attempts by McCarthy and McConnell to prevent a bipartisan commission – as happened after major national disasters like the 9/11 attacks and the assassination of President John Kennedy – not only shield the former president’s abuse of power, they also prevent major ones national accounts of events that shook America’s democracy and the establishment of agreed facts necessary to account for history.

“I find that very worrying about Mr. McCarthy visiting Mr. Trump,” said Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.”

“This is all about strategy, this is all about tactics, this is all about confusion. We have to record what actually happened. Every American should be able to agree, ”Snyder told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Thursday. “It is simply inappropriate for someone in McCarthy’s position to consult with a private individual such as Mr. Trump on these matters.”

McCarthy’s contortions

As McCarthy plans his way to gaining control of the House of Representatives in 2022, it may seem strange that he should take advice from Trump. After all, in just four years in office, Trump managed to preside over the loss of the House of Representatives and the Senate and was the first president to be removed from office in almost 30 years after a single term. He also earned the disastrous historic award of being charged twice and never cracked a 50% approval rating.

But the GOP, as it operates in the shadow of Trump’s personality cult, is no longer a normal party – and for better or worse it has linked its future appeal and political perspectives to its political star.

McCarthy’s presence in the White House was an odd but politically charged feature of his schedule.

That meant that within a few hours the California Republican was in the presence of a German Chancellor who had grown up under tyranny in the GDR and the autocratic figurehead and scourge of democracy of his own party, which, according to the new book by the two Washington Post reporters, once referred to the guest of honor as “that b – – – h”.



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