Here is What Mitch McConnell Should Do From Here, But Won’t Because He’s Too Gutless
Warning: The following column assumes a semi-rational political environment, which has not been seen in the United States since at least early 2015. The author fully realizes that in a Trump-dominated world, none of this is actually going to happen.
Fairly soon, President Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He is currently trailing very badly in the polls to the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, and by lesser margins against all of the other major contenders.
It is clear that as the Ukrainian scandal quickly unfolds, and other similar outrages develop, the White House is in chaos and that this obviously unfit president is becoming increasingly unstable. He has even started accusing his political enemies of treason, personally threatening the whistle-blower, and tweeting claims that removing him from office would cause a second Civil War.
While his approval ratings remain above the “dead man walking” zone, they are low enough to where he could easily lose reelection, even to a very bad opponent. His disapproval numbers are so awful that he could also cause Republicans further loses in both the House and the Senate next year, maybe even costing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell his coveted majority.
McConnell, a legendary tactician and vote counter, does have a path out of this mess for both his party and the country. My friend, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, a vocal McConnell critic who also from Louisville, Kentucky, told me after Trump was elected that, if he found it in his self-interest to do so, McConnell would gladly take Trump out (having had some bad experiences with McConnell as a talk show host in Louisville, I was personally agnostic on his theory).
If McConnell were to have the courage to go down this perilous route, the first thing he should do is gather fellow Republican senators Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Lisa Murkowski, Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, Richard Burr, John Thune, and Marco Rubio together. Each of them has shown some semblance of willingness to criticize Trump in the past, and none of them are up for re-election next year.
He should encourage them to publicly voice their true thoughts on the Ukrainian scandal and related matters. It’s probably that at least half of them would gladly take him up on the opportunity, so long as they knew they were not going to be out there alone.
This would immediately create the narrative that the scandal is very real and that there are possible cracks in the Republican firewall currently protecting Trump in the Senate. It would also give permission for several retiring GOP House members to come out in favor of impeachment, which in turn would make it very difficult for the state-run “conservative” media to pretend this is all just a Democratic a “witch hunt.”
This would then give the same “permission” to about the 5-10% of Trump’s Republican support that is soft to also start abandoning the president. His approval ratings would then universally (except for possibly Trump’s favorite pollster, Rasmussen) sink below 40%, which would be psychologically significant.
Then, ideally just before Trump is about to be impeached, McConnell would go to Trump and offer him a deal. He would tell him that he can ensure that he will not be removed from office and that he might even be able to keep him from being impeached (Speaker Nancy Pelosi may even be thrilled to go along with all of this). But, in return, Trump has to “do us a favor, though.”
First, he must announce to the nation that, thanks to the fact that he has already made America “Great Again,” he will not be running for re-election in any fashion. Second, since he is not running for re-election, he will delete his personal Twitter account. Third, Trump will also announce that he is endorsing the only potentially successful candidate for the GOP presidential nomination who could bridge the canyon between Trumpers and non-Trumpers, the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley (thus eliminating the “Mike Pence Problem”). Forth, he would be on a previously scheduled golfing trip to Turnberry during the 2020 GOP convention.
Trump, being Trump, would not immediately accept this generous offer of being able to finish his term and save face. But if McConnell was able to get the GOP to chip in a few million dollars for a going away party at Mar-a-Lago, he would probably consider going for it.
Under this scenario, the GOP would have a legitimate path to both competing across the board in 2020, and possibly escaping the Trump fiasco without a catastrophic long-term disaster. Sure Trump would try to cause problems for the party once he was out of office, but that was always going to part of the price they would pay for this deal with the devil they made in 2016.
Of course, there is a very good chance Trump would tell McConnell to shove his deal up where the sun doesn’t shine. If that happened, McConnell could simply allow things to progress in the same direction they were already headed (impeachment, but not removal), or, he could be the first powerful person in this entire mess to put country over self-interest and hit the nuclear button, removing Trump’s force field protection during a Senate impeachment trial and simply letting the chips fall where they may.
Yes, McConnell would then likely lose his re-election bid as Trump, in a fit of vengeance, turned his “Cult 45” against him (if Trump was indeed removed from office, I can see McConnell surviving such an effort by a then disgraced ex-president). But he would also go down in history as a highly unlikely hero, and maybe even a legend.
Too bad McConnell appears to be a total wuss, and that all of this would only happen in a country which still fostered great men.
John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at email@example.com
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.