If you don’t think Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel‘s job is tantamount to trying to herd cats, you haven’t been paying attention. Locked between Republicans who want Donald Trump out of the 2024 picture and those who fervently support him, she’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.
Two recent scenarios perfectly illustrate the reality of McDaniel’s unenviable job.
Despite the red wave that wasn’t, McDaniel’s behind-the-scenes campaign for a fourth term as RNC head began in the mid-morning of what would be a nightmarish day for the Republican Party, November 8: the day of the midterm elections. As reported by NBC News, McDaniel told at least one RNC member she would run again if members wanted her to stay.
Over the next 10 days, Republican leaders of course blamed one another publicly for the midterm debacle, with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and McDaniel receiving much of the criticism, and Trump and his supporters receiving most of the rest.
McDaniel prevailed, in part due to the efforts of an ally, RNC member Richard Porter from Illinois. Porter’s whip team secured commitments for an endorsement letter from 101 of the RNC’s 168 members.
Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, wasn’t surprised:
This has really been kind of member-driven. For me, it was not a close call. Every single time I called her, the answer was yes. … I’m not surprised that folks coalesced behind her or around her as quickly as they did.
But another RNC member who signed the letter brought up the 800-pound gorilla in the room — on the condition of anonymity, to avoid upsetting other members:
We’ve got to do a little bit of a moon dance away from Donald Trump, or an Irish exit. He has been a visionary. But he also brings a lot of baggage and negative [sic] with him.
And, you know, he doesn’t always have the best judgment. So I think it’s just for the good of the party. We’ve got to make sure that the  field is wide open.
The whole thing amounts to a triple-edged sword for McDaniel.
One faction of members wants the RNC head to remain neutral in the 2024 primaries. A second faction wants the RNC head to openly support Trump, while a third faction wants McDaniel to “put her thumb on the scale” against Trump, fervently believing that he will do his damnedest to destroy every Republican in his way, and burn down the party on his way out the door if he is denied the nomination.
A rock and a hard place? Hell yeah, it is. Would you want McDaniel’s job? Me, neither.
So, there we have it: McDaniel easily secured a sufficient number of commitments to keep her job, but a growing number of RNC members, along with a growing number of even Republican voters, are angry with the RNC head, Trump, and his recent unenforced errors — a “talent” he is incapable of avoiding.
Oscar Brock, a national committeeman from Tennessee, wrote in one of a series of blistering private email threads, as obtained by Politico:
I am flabbergasted at the lack of outrage from Ronna about this. I tweeted to her yesterday, asking her to condemn this. We must, as a party, oppose all racism and prejudice, and condemn those who accept and endorse it, which includes inviting neo-nazi’s [sic] to dinner.
In reference to Porter (who led the effort to garner votes for McDaniel), committeeman Bill Palatucci from New Jersey wrote:
Is it just me or is anyone else struck by the incredible irony that Richard was writing these wonderful words within 48 hours of Donald Trump having dinner with anti-Semite Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, also an anti-Semite and a racist white nationalist. All Republican leaders need to stand up and denounce Trump’s actions and lack of judgment here.
As you might recall, when the firestorm first erupted over Trump’s very public Mar-a-Lago dinner with “Ye,” Fuentes, and alt-right nutbag Milo Yiannopoulous, the former president tried to shirk responsibility by throwing Kanye under the bus for “bringing along a few of his friends.” Trump later claimed he had no idea who Fuentes and Yianopoulos were, which raised another issue: Even if Trump was unaware of these two guys, he had to know about West’s continuing anti-Semitic crusade.
Moreover, at least someone in Trump’s “only the best people” inner circle should have been charged with the responsibility of knowing the identity of every single person granted a meeting with Trump. Regardless of who screwed up, and equally regardless of whether Ye, Fuentes, or Yiannopoulos, as the latter would later claim, set Trump up, that dinner should never have occurred — zero excuses.
Jay Shephard, a national committeeman from Vermont, agrees:
As individuals and as a party we must not tolerate people like Nick Fuentes and Kanye West. We should never ever give them a platform for their hatred. Giving them attention only divides us as a nation. No Republican should be associated with them, its [sic] not who we are.
Again, 100 percent correct. No amount of “advanced rationalization” or “whataboutism” from those who’ve actually defended or excused Trump over the inexcusable dinner that was far from in his best interest can change the facts — or the perception it led to.
The Bottom Line
In what will be the final analysis — the 2024 general election autopsy, if you will — Ronna McDaniel will one day be a mere footnote in history.
If Donald Trump continues attacking members of his own party by whom he feels threatened (see: “Ron DeSanctimonious“) and making bizarre statements about the “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution“ and declaring himself the “rightful winner” of the 2020 presidential election, the next two years are going to be an unmitigated disaster.
Will Ronna McDaniel deserve part of the blame if the above happens? In my not-so-humble opinion, hell no, she won’t. That blame will rest squarely on those whose votes make it happen, if it does.