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Party Leaders Shrug As Trump Declares War On GOP Dissidents

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The two Republicans heading up the party's efforts to retake control of Congress in the midterms all but declared war on any GOP lawmaker who dares to cross Donald Trump between now and 2022.

On Friday, both Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) copped to the fact that not only did they fail to get a commitment from Trump not to make primary targets of their caucus members, but they also had no intention of doing so. Both men are also charter members of the Sedition Party, having voted to reject congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory even after Trump's murderous mob stormed the Capitol complex on January 6.

"I don't have a commitment on that," McCarthy told reporters Friday during a press conference, adding that he's working "closely" with Trump on "endorsements to win seats in the House."

The ten members of McCarthy's caucus who voted to impeach Trump face the most immediate threat from a Trump-backed 2022 primary. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in particular, has drawn Trump's ire. Earlier this week, Cheney took a whack at Trump once again, telling reporters she didn't think Trump should be "playing a role in the future of the party or the country." McCarthy, on the other hand, flew down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump's ring in the weeks following the January 6 insurrection because he just wants to be Speaker of the House that badly.

As a nice touch, McCarthy wouldn't say whether he would help Cheney in her reelection bid. "Liz hasn't asked me," offered McCarthy. With friends like that ...

And then there's Scott, who's chairing the campaign arm of the Senate Republican caucus, basically spewing venom at Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Thune of South Dakota. Murkowski is the sole GOP senator who both voted to convict Trump and faces a 2022 reelection bid, while Thune has repeatedly said the party should steer away from Trump's cult of personality.

"I never talked to [Trump] about that," Scott told The Wall Street Journal of Trump refraining from endorsing potential primary opponents. "Many are saying it is my job to mediate between warring factions on the right and mediate the war of words between party leaders … Well, I have news for them—I'm not going to mediate anything."

With friends like that ... oh wait, I already said that.

In any normal party, a basic commitment to do no harm to incumbent lawmakers would be standard. But not in today's Republican Party, where fascist loyalty to Trump supersedes all other rules of engagement. It's a truly special time to be a Republican—and goddess help us all if this version of the party ever regains control of the country.

GOP Takes Three-Pronged Stab At Obama’s Address, Each With Different Message

WASHINGTON — Republicans took multiple tries to deliver their reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

In addition to the officially sanctioned Republican Party response by Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a Spanish-language version by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Tea Party Express faction continued its practice of delivering a separate speech, this year by Utah Senator Mike Lee.

And Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had delivered the Tea Party Express response last year, staked out his own turf this year with a YouTube address. Nor was that the only response from his family. His father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, held an interactive town hall with supporters during and after the address.

For a party fighting the perception it’s at war with itself, the competing speeches were an unwelcome and very public reminder of the divisions that remain. Although including some common themes focused on the economy and smaller government, the rival addresses highlighted the intraparty battles that could undermine the GOP’s chances of winning key Senate contests in upcoming elections.

“I wish we’d speak with one voice. I really do,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ). “The American people need to have one message from the Republican Party.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, the first woman to deliver a Republican response to the annual presidential address, said party unity is not what it was when she rebutted Bill Clinton’s 1995 speech. “It’s pretty indicative of where the party is these days,” she said. “It’s spread all over the place, and that’s a challenge. It’s a real problem.”

In what was billed as the “Republican Address to the Nation,” McMorris Rodgers said she wanted to share “a more hopeful, Republican vision — one that empowers you, not the government.”

Like the other Republican responses, she acknowledged the growing opportunity gap among Americans, but blamed Obama. “Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the president’s policies are making people’s lives harder,” she said. “Republicans have plans to close the gap.”

She also addressed the troubled rollout of Obamacare, and signaled the party would offer its own alternate plan. “No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s healthcare law is not working.”

In more brash terms, Lee outlined what he called a “new conservative reform agenda,” citing policy ideas from a rising generation of leaders, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. He said the economic inequality Obama spoke of was the result of a government that “takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests.”

But rather than seek to build GOP support, Lee chastised his own party, targeting his words to “those Americans who may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties. . . . To be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican establishment in Washington can be just as out of touch as the Democratic establishment.”

In addition to Republican disunity, the multiplicity of responses was a byproduct of fast-growing social media platforms, which have opened new venues for old-fashioned political egos and allowed lawmakers to easily and cheaply circulate their opinions.

In the past, if more conservative Republicans wanted to get their own message out, they had to purchase 60 seconds of air time on television networks. On Tuesday, Paul simply had to record some remarks at the Senate’s recording studio and have a staffer upload it to YouTube. The Tea Party Express streamed Lee’s address, delivered at the National Press Club, through its website, which also served as a way to collect email addresses from potential contributors.

Obama may have helped spawn the trend in 2008, when he — as a tech-savvy presidential candidate — released his own personal response to George W. Bush’s final State of the Union address.

No matter how it’s done, staging a response that can compete with the pomp of a presidential address to Congress is always an impossible task for the party out of power — the political equivalent of watching a Super Bowl champion crowned at midfield, then cutting to the loser’s locker room to hear from the other team’s coach.

In recent years, Republican responses have been noted more for glitches and mishaps than for what was said. Remember Michele Bachmann’s looking into the wrong camera in 2011 when she delivered the Tea Party Express response? Marco Rubio’s awkward reach for a bottle of Poland Spring water last year?

The potential for an embarrassing viral moment like Rubio’s hasn’t dimmed other politicians’ interest in attempting to grab a bit of the spotlight, however. Although the Republican Party has complained that the Tea Party response overshadows their primary messenger, the GOP this year set up stations at the Capitol for rank-and-file members to record short video responses after the speech that can be posted to Vine, a Twitter-owned mobile app.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) purchased TV air time during this year’s speech coverage to highlight her personal campaign for stricter gun laws.

When asked if the official rebuttal speech has outlived its usefulness, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat, who delivered the Democrats’ 2006 response to Bush, joked, “I think people question whether the State of the Union and the response has outlived its usefulness. You can make an argument either way.”

Photo: republicanconference/Flickr