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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


With the election of Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan made a Faustian bargain. They embraced Trump—an impulsive and ignorant man, filled with racial animus—with the hope they could ride his popularity with conservative voters to enact their agenda of tax cuts and deregulation.

Their corruption caught up with them on Wednesday. Trump humiliated the Republican leaders by siding with their Democratic counterparts Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In a White House meeting, Trump blindsided his allies and endorsed the Democrats’ proposal for hurricane relief and raising the debt ceiling.

The Republican coalition in Washington, which seemed triumphant nine months ago, is disintegrating. The party’s plans are “in chaos,” thanks to Trump. Just a month ago, Capitol Hill conservatives and Trump were threatening a government shutdown to force the Democrats to fund a border wall and accept cuts in social spending.

Now the Democrats have the advantage. That’s how desperate the president is for something he can call a win. With control of all three branches of government, Capitol Republicans have enacted none of Trump’s legislative agenda: not a border wall, not Obamacare repeal, not tax cuts, not tax reform, not an infrastructure jobs program.

Falling Out

Trump has tired of his former allies. He can sense what the world sees: Paul Ryan is a weak and craven man. The speaker supported the Dreamer program to protect immigrant youth. When Trump rescinded it, Ryan dutifully said he “did the right thing.”

Trump no longer trusts McConnell, whose cynicism and guile have not delivered any victories that make the president look good. Their last conversation reportedly ended in an expletive-laden shouting match.

So for the first time in his flailing presidency, Trump reached out to Democrats and abandoned the hardcore conservatives who have supported him most loyally. Devoid of principles and political loyalties, Trump doesn’t care about coherence. His abrupt move, which left Schumer barely able to contain his glee, was a classic exercise in male dominance: humiliate to prevail.

To show his contempt for Ryan and McConnell, Trump embraced their more liberal rivals, and then flew off for a photo op with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat running for reelection in a state that Trump won big—North Dakota.

McConnell hopes to defeat her in 2018; Trump made her the first Democrat to ride on Air Force One since he took office. Take that, Mitch.


In the psycho-social vocabulary of the right, Trump reduced Ryan and McConnell to “cucks,” contemptibly weak men. This soothes the president’s needy ego at the same time it undermines the Republican agenda and his own administration.

In the political reality of Washington, the Democrats now have leverage to protect President Obama’s legacy.

The eternal right-wing threat of government shutdown was blown away by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which confirmed the reality that government is a good and necessary thing. By forcing Republicans to vote on a debt-ceiling increase this year, Trump has empowered the Democrats to protect social spending that the hard right hoped to curb.

Trump rescinded the Dreamers program, but not in person. He made clear he might go along if Congress codified the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrvials (DACA) program into law, something President Obama repeatedly tried and failed to do.

Chuck and Nancy want to see something happen [on DACA] and so do I,” he said, before flying off for his date with Heitkamp.

Trump still talks about repealing Obamacare, but he needs MConnell to do that—and Wednesday’s betrayal makes that much less likely. He needs Republican unity to secure financing for his beloved and foolish border wall—but talking chummily of “Chuck and Nancy” is not likely to encourage it.

The man-child president has created the possibility of the Republicans’ worst nightmare coming true.

The Washington Post observes:

Republicans could end the year with no major conservative accomplishments to show for their complete control of Washington. This scenario would not only leave Obamacare as the law of the land, but also in better financial standing, and grant long-term legal status to the “dreamers.”

That would have been considered a good first year in office for President Hillary Clinton.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.


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9 responses to “Trump’s Relationship With Paul Ryan And Mitch McConnell Might Just Have Hit Rock Bottom”

  1. bobnstuff says:

    If the conservatives don’t get on the Trump Train they will be left at the station. How long should Trump wait for the Republicans in congress to get their act together. Just maybe the moderates in both parties can get together to move the country forward.

  2. FireBaron says:

    Anyone else remember “the good old days” when the Democrats were the disorganized group (even when they were in charge)? Now, the Republicans have assumed the mantle of total disorganization.

    You have the “Ayn Rand Libertarians”, who believe everything the government provides should be provided by “The Market”. I wonder if they believe police and fire departments should be privatized, too? And should our military be all mercenaries hired as needed? Of course, they are the first ones with their hands out when their States are victims of national disasters.

    You have the “Dixiecrat Republicans”. These are they guys who were traditionally Democrats before LBJ’s betrayal of Southern Democratic institutionalized racism. They demand their piece of the Federal Pie because their own states are too damn poor to support their own state governments. For whatever reason, most of these folks represent states that get hit on an annual basis by one or more hurricanes, yet lead the way in denying changes in weather patterns.

    You have the Eastern Moderates. Look fast, people. These are a rapidly fading group. These are the guys who look at Eisenhower, Ford, and Reagan (no, not the Reagan idealized by the Conservatives, but the Reagan who recognized reality and tried to correct his errors) as their role models. Now they are mostly referred to as RINOs.

    You have the CONSERVATIVES. These are the classic non-Northeastern Republicans. They prefer less federal government interference in their local areas

    but still want their handouts. They are the ones who claim to be carrying on the “Reagan Revolution”, but would probably not support Ronald Reagan today because of his prior history of labor activism and other actions and stances that are not sufficiently Conservative for them.

    Finally, you have the unholy alliance of the Freedom Caucus and the last remnants of the Tea Party. These are the “America First” group. They make the Dixiecrat Republicans look like exemplars of racial unity in their expressed contempt for anything that is not White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Americanism.

    These folks are why Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan appear to have jobs more closely aligned with herding cats than actually running their caucuses.

  3. Mama Bear says:

    Remember the Keystone Kops? Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and most of the rest of them are so deep in Russian mb money that they will all go down with Humpty Trumpty.

  4. InGen12 says:

    Congress’ total and absolute dysfunction began when McConnell declared years ago that they would make Obama a one-term president. Thus, began Congress’ complete obstruction of passing anything that would reflect favorably on the Obama administration. Repubs are so into that mode that they cannot get out of their self-made rut of not accomplishing anything. McConnell and Ryan are so poorly situated as leaders and must be taken out of office.

  5. TZToronto says:

    I’m thinking that Gen. Kelly may have something to do with this. Trump seems a bit more focused on presidential things and less on self-adulation. Perhaps Trump has been advised that working with Republicans will result in nothing, but working with Democrats–even though there’s mutual hatred there–will get things–reasonable things–passed. So the 3-month debt ceiling increase plus Harvey/Irma aid really can’t fail. The bonus is that Democrats now have leverage that they haven’t had for at least seven years.

  6. The lucky one says:

    “Devoid of principles and political loyalties, Trump doesn’t care about coherence.” Although I agree with that statement I am willing to acknowledge the rare occasions when he, like this time, he does the sensible thing.

  7. old_blu says:

    It won’t hit “rock bottom” until they disown Trump, publicly.

  8. says:

    DUMPSTER DONNY ran away when called ! like the coward he is dodged the draft 5 times before daddy DUMPSTER paid for a DR.’s note to get the clown out of it . he says he’s a good counter puncher . more like a coward hit then RUNS AS FASTY AS HE CAN TO GET AWAY the latest news is that the VP mislead every one . he didn’t miss lead he STRIGHT OUT LIED . he is helping been is and will keep on doing this helping DUMPSTER DONNY play his stupid game with the USA & the world DUMP 45 thinks he can do what ever he wants all the time with out have to answering to any thing . the CLOWN said jobs jobs jobs . but his brain dead DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW followers didn’t know the jobs were going to be for them to be paying the lawyers to be defending him and his cult , KLAN and his staff from all the laws breaking he fraud ,conned & and scammed them into doing . he BULLSHIfTED THEM ALL AS HE IS DOING TO THE WORLD !!. 1 can say he is making a lot of jobs BUT JUST FOR THE LAWYERS TO DEFEND PROTECT AND STAND BY THE CLOWN FOR BIG BUCKS those are just the people pay for . so really it just adds to the debt .

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