McConnell Thinks Trump May Be Gone by Midterm Election

The New York Times reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pretty much in open war against Donald Trump and has privately said that he thinks Trump may not even be able to survive through the 2018 midterm elections after getting off to such a disastrous start.


What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense…

In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.

During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.

It’s hard to be on the side of a guy like McConnell, but he’s absolutely right. Trump’s behavior, from a purely pragmatic political view, can best be described as lazy, bullying and ultimately self-defeating. He has no idea how to get things done in Washington. He doesn’t know the rules, procedures and norms at all and he has refused to put people around him who do. That’s why they’ve had such trouble even with executive orders, because the people writing them have no idea what they’re doing and they haven’t bothered to get the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel before issuing them.

His dealings with Congress are even worse. He has no understanding of public policy on virtually any issue and no desire to learn, so he’s left it all to Congress and just played cheerleader from the sidelines. But when he doesn’t get what he wants — which is a legislative win, any legislative win — he lashes out at the people who control his agenda in Congress, thinking that he can bully them into doing his bidding. But if he thinks he’s going to bully a guy like McConnell, who was in power long before Trump even thought about running for office, he’s living in a fantasy world.

His attacks on Republicans are just a case of shooting himself in the foot. He isn’t going to intimidate John McCain any more than he is McConnell, and Jeff Flake has now set himself up for a potential presidential run later by staking out the anti-Trump territory. He’s just completely clueless. And frankly, that’s a good thing.

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