On Defending Mitch McConnell Against Donald Trump

What does the conscience of a conservative dictate? What should it drive you to stand for?


That, apparently. The conscience of Jeff Flake is a recent cause célèbre among one D.C. demographic and a point of sputtering rage among another, but what it isn’t is reliably conservative.

President Trump has been attacking Mitch McConnell over Obamacare, which is just about as worthy a cause as Trump has ever undertaken in his life. Mitch, for his part, says that Trump’s expectations of Congress are too high.

[Aside: Too high? Are you kidding me? No. Do what you said.]

Yesterday, Trump upped his rhetoric against McConnell, prompting a number of Senators to come to his rescue. Aside from Flake, Orrin Hatch, Thom Tillis, Chuck Grassley and Rob Portman are all offering up support and defense.


Oh sure, the impulse to defend against the President is understandable. He’s a vengeance-seeking opportunist who blames anyone and everyone else when he doesn’t get his way or fails to perform. But in this case, in this particular case, he’s hitting a deserving target. It’s not coming from a place of virtue, but the arrows are flying in a direction I’m fine with.

Mitch is part of the leadership that GOP voters are fed up with and who have, despite everything else, failed to repeal and replace despite their unending vows to do so. He deserves blame. He deserves criticism. He deserves being primaried.

Of course, he’ll continue to get this support from his colleagues. That’s how the game works and he has plenty of allies. He’s in no danger of ousting and that’s a shame.


And also of course, it’s easy to push back against Trump, who as even Newt pointed out shares the blame for the failure on healthcare. There are even ways to throw Mitch’s leadership back in Trump’s face, and in the faces of his base. Senators defending Mitch say we wouldn’t have Gorsuch on the Supreme Court without McConnell’s leadership. Being that “But SCOTUS” is the most frequently cited, end-all-debate defense of Donald Trump’s presidency, that’s gotta leave a mark.

Besides, Trump supports Mitch’s pick in Alabama and even appointed a former McConnell aide to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Yesterday. So, yeah, easy to push back.

McConnell will continue to find defenders in the hallways of D.C. and the Twitter accounts of beltway types and, well you know … “elites.” (An entirely used-up term.) The impulse to call Trump on his legless stand will turn some into McConnell defenders, too. But not here. Conservatives, real ones, what few remain, shouldn’t defend McConnell. Or think of Trump’s war against him as virtuous in origin.

Instead, do what I do. Smile, maybe have some popcorn, and remember that all these people deserve the messes they face. It’s their doing.



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