A week ago, Wyoming VichyCon Liz Cheney made her peace offering to the ruling Democrat clique and voted to break with the House GOP leadership and the GOP Conference of which she is chairwoman to aid the Democrat majority in their Quixotic (or Javert-esque or Ahab-like) efforts to punish President Trump even after he left the White House. The move obviously had much more to do with a political calculation than with principle. (Funny how often we come back to this same analysis when evaluating the actions of NeverTrumpers, isn’t it?) According to reports, her vote to impeach President Trump blindsided House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. As an aside, this move reflects on Cheney’s character and motives and the lack of respect McCarthy demands from his leadership team.
Here’s how I described it in Liz Cheney’s Congressional Career Appears to Be Over:
One doesn’t know whether Cheney just wanted to go out of Congress with a bang; or if she seriously misread the tenor of the GOP both nationally and at home and thought this “maverick” vote was her ticket to more power; or, if being true to her heritage, she couldn’t resist getting involved in a war with no victory conditions and no way out.
Since that time, she has been censured by the unanimous vote of her state GOP, she’s attracted a viable primary challenger, and her conference is on the cusp of stripping her of her leadership post (see Kevin McCarthy Tries to Have It Both Ways on Liz Cheney’s Treachery and Shows He Is Not up to the Job).
Cheney’s difficulties may be giving her Senate Republican counterparts their own case of the heebie-jeebies. They seem to be confronting the fact that President Trump is not a pinata they can whack away at in hopes of receiving prizes from their Democrat overlords. Rather he commands a substantial and loyal following among the rank-and-file, and making the New York Times angry might not be as unpleasant as having Trump voters react to a calculated betrayal.
In particular, it looks like the guy who might be the “stuck-ee” at the end of this is none other than Mitch McConnell.
This is the climate, according to Politico:
REPUBLICANS ARE UNDER INTENSE PRESSURE to acquit DONALD TRUMP — whether they think he committed an impeachable offense or not. At this point, it’s all about self-preservation.
When MITCH MCCONNELL signaled the trial vote would be one of conscience for members — and that he wouldn’t be whipping the issue — he was, some would argue, giving Republicans room to break with the ex-president. But Senate sources tell us activists and typical Republican primary voters are pushing them in the opposite direction. Some donors fear if more than a handful of Republicans vote to convict, there is a real threat of a third-party MAGA uprising.
Which is to say: This is not an easy vote even for Republicans who want Trump gone for good.
What makes this all the more uncomfortable for McConnell is that many people see his fingerprints on the entire impeachment process. It is difficult to believe that Nancy Pelosi opted for this action without close coordination with Chuck Schumer and Schumer, it seems to reason, went along because he had assurances that McConnell was fine with the spectacle and would not gum up the works during Joe Bidens’ “hundred days” (though we are pretty sure Joe can’t count that high any longer).
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.
On Monday, Mr. Biden telephoned Mr. McConnell to ask whether it was possible to set up a dual track that would allow the Senate to confirm Mr. Biden’s cabinet nominees and hold a Senate trial at the same time, according to officials briefed on the conversation who disclosed it on condition of anonymity. Far from avoiding the topic of impeaching Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell said it was a question for the Senate parliamentarian, and promised Mr. Biden a quick answer.
If you’ve been paying any attention, you’ll recognize that “purging” the GOP of Trump and his supporters is the current hot spank material on the left and among The Bulwark/NRO crowd. Right now, the Vichy wing of the conservative movement is much more interested in pushing 75 million Trump voters out of the public square than they are in accomplishing a single positive act (see Opinion: Great Move NRO; You Just Insulted 75 MILLION Americans and Opinion: I Am Cletus).
From RedState founder Ben Domenech:
Hill chatter: Republican Senators who are up in 2022 increasingly fear primary challenges on the basis of supporting McConnell as leader.
One comment: “He’s setting us up and he doesn’t seem to even realize it, or he just doesn’t care.”
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) January 24, 2021
Apparently, no one believes this vote is going anywhere, but McConnell is forcing his caucus to make a meaningless and dangerous vote just to get even with President Trump (see Even Biden Is Admitting the Trump Impeachment Is DOA, So Why Waste Time?).
An uncharitable reading of this is that McConnell worked hand-in-glove with the Democrats to smooth the way for impeachment…even to the point of having a conversation with Biden on how this Constitutional travesty could proceed without messing up his efforts to staff his administration and pass legislation that would further damage the nation. A non-trivial number of Senators thought they could use the vote to get back in the good graces of the Democrats and the bookers for the Sunday morning talk shows, and they’ve now found out they can’t, see Establishment Republicans Want to Wash Trump Out of Their Hair, But the Dye is Permanent Now. Now McConnell, who will not have to run for office again unless political taxidermy becomes a thing, has stuck them with this impeachment tar-baby that will make them stand by President Trump or face a very interesting reception back home.
If you have a more charitable reading of events, be sure to let me know.