As Senate GOP campaign chair Sen. Rick Scott of Florida told VICE News in July, “What the conversation’s going to be about is the Biden agenda and what we’re going to do going forward.”
Yeah, not so much. That’s not the message Trump has been carrying, wants to carry, or will carry for as long as he’s alive to whine about the supposed 2020 election fraud that never happened except in his fantastical fever dreams.
But it’s too late for Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell entirely fumbled his chance to impeach Trump and drive a final nail in his political coffin. Instead, Republicans chose to hand their entire party and its fortunes over to someone whose sole life goal now is to trick the world into believing he isn’t the loser that he actually is. And now absolutely no one in the entire Republican Party has the vision, force of will, or leadership skills to put Trump in the party’s rear-view mirror.
In fact, no one epitomizes how pathetic the Republican Party has become more than Trump’s No. 2, Mike Pence, whose brush with the gallows on Jan. 6 hasn’t deterred him one bit from sucking up to his former boss in order to curry political favor with the GOP base.
Sure, Trump’s rank and file tried to hang him, but Pence is eyeing a 2024 bid and no low is too low on the way to that unholy grail. So Pence went on Fox News earlier this month and dismissed Trump’s deadly coup attempt as “one day in January” that the media needlessly obsesses over.
The entirely bankrupt go-ahead-and-hang-me sycophancy of Mike Pence absolutely encapsulates the GOP’s public approach to Trump’s de facto leadership of the party and a potential 2024 bid.
The 88-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa just jumped at a chance last weekend to kiss up to Trump so he can sail off into his golden years a completely hollowed out vessel of a soul. Grassley—who nine months ago called Jan. 6 “an attack on American democracy itself”— accepted an endorsement from Trump by highlighting its political expediency.
“If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” he observed. So much for that attack on American democracy.
This is exactly how we ended up with Trump running the country—no one in the Republican Party had the guts to take him on in 2016. They all just crossed their fingers and prayed to the heavens Trump would go away. Instead, he won the nomination, won the election, and then GOP lawmakers spent another four years privately grousing about Trump’s leadership of their party to reporters on the Hill. Yet again, no one had the guts to take him on. Even after Trump incited the Jan. 6 coup attempt, Senate Republicans—led by McConnell—didn’t have the fortitude or integrity to hold him accountable.
And yet again, as we barrel toward the 2022 midterms, Republicans are publicly embracing Trump while privately lambasting him—as if the outcome will be different this time around.
CNN has a story chock full of fresh glowy quotes from GOP lawmakers hailing Trump’s contribution to the party, downplaying his role in the deadly Jan. 6 siege, and even urging him to run again in 2024.
“If he ran, I think he would be the nominee,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, which supposedly stands for something, told CNN. “He didn’t have anything to do with January 6. I think that’s a far-fetched idea. I don’t think he’s damaged himself within the party.”
In fact, the head of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, said Trump would have also have a “great shot” at winning the general election in 2024.
“‘If President Trump runs in 2024, he has my full support,” Banks said. “The ‘Make America Great Again’ message means more today than it did in 2015 when Donald Trump came down the escalator, because people feel it, they see the decline of America on the Democrats’ watch.”
Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina called January 6 “an aberration that shouldn’t have occurred” but relieved Trump of culpability. As for Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, Wilson—who famously called President Barack Obama a liar during a congressional address—said, “there were irregularities that need to be looked into,” and “yes,” Trump should run again.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the third ranking Republican in the House, gushed about Trump “drawing big crowds” and credited Trump’s efforts to help the GOP win back the House.
“The enthusiasm has never been higher for us to win back the House. And President Trump is really going to help us get there,” Scalise said. In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Scalise also declined to take any stand on whether he backed Trump’s assertion of a stolen election in 2020.
So short of divine intervention, all signs point to a Trump run and a GOP capitulation in 2024 regardless of whether they actually believe that’s good for their party or their electoral prospects. Even if Trump manages to doom a GOP takeover in 2022, no Republican has what it takes to orchestrate his ouster.