5 min readWhat is Donald Thinking: The Fight Against McConnell

The latest focus of President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Trump attacked the Majority Leader on Twitter with regard to the stalled legislative agenda that has been the focus of many American’s anger. A poll by Gallup shows that Congress’ approval rating is at an abysmal 20%, which is a historic low. Voters aren’t wrong, either. This is a government that is totally controlled by the Republican party. The Congress is controlled by Republicans, the Executive branch is controlled by Republicans, the Judicial branch is controlled by Republicans. Yet somehow there has been absolutely no passing of major legislation during this year’s congressional session. Health care reform is stalled, and the last ditch effort to pass any kind of repeal was some sort of ‘skinny’ repeal that people within the Republican party openly despised yet most voted for it.

President Trump said on the campaign trail that passing health care reform (repeal and replace of Obamacare) would be easy, and yet he not only wasn’t able to pass any legislation, but he made it worse by openly criticizing members of his own party about the bill on Twitter.

So now we are at a point where President Donald Trump and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are feuding. In demeaning tweets and public statements, the president is calling McConnell out for his failure to pass any major legislation–mainly health care reform, in the last session. The only two major accomplishments are the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and the passing of sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea that include restrictions on President Trump’s ability to lift sanctions on Russia. The president strongly urged the majority leader to “get back to work,” on repealing the Affordable Care Act, among other things. This comes at a critical juncture in this year’s congress. The Republican party needs to find a way to work together in legislating because come September when they gavel in they will have to lift the debt ceiling and get to work on tax reform.

More than just tweets, which we as an electorate have become quite numb to given how frequent they come about, Presiden Trump also brought these insults into the real world. When asked at a news conference if McConnell should resign, Trump refused to answer the question but rather said that they should ask the question again if the leader doesn’t deliver on the president’s priorities.

Saying that he was “very disappointed in Mitch,” Trump made it clear that his main source of disappointment was the failure of the so-called skinny repeal bill that failed by one vote.

[Watch the maverick of the Senate, John McCain, kill the skinny repeal bill]

“For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace, and frankly it shouldn’t have happened,” he said to a gaggle of reporters at his golf club in Bedminster New Jersey.

[Trump visits a Trump-owned golf club for the 50th time in 165 days as president]

 

These attacks on someone who is largely viewed as an establishment figure in the Republican party were intended to improve support among his anti-establishment, populist base, White House aides are saying.

But there is another side to this, and that’s the fact that most Republicans in Washington are loyal to McConnell, who has been in the Senate for a long time and served as leader since 2007.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted today “@SenateMajLdr has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him.”

Possibly even more significant was former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s response, he is an ardent Trump supporter and a regular commentator on Fox News, which is a largely pro-Trump network. “I think the president can’t dissociate himself from this,” Gingrich said. Trump “is part of the leadership team. He is not an observer sitting up in the stands. He is on the field. It was a collective failure.”

Even some Republican aides suggested that these jabs at the majority leader weren’t helpful to the president and his agenda. A White House aide told The Washington Post ““Yelling at his Senate quarterback isn’t going to help him achieve these wins,” said one GOP strategist close to the White House who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

President Trump, playing golf at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, remains cold about the failed GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, a pledge that Republicans made since the law was passed and signed into law. This is a promise seven years in the running. At the moment it seems that Republicans have moved on from health care reform to tax reform.

On Twitter, President Trump said “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump said Thursday. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”

But that wasn’t all, a few hours later, he was tweeting again. He said “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!”

Perhaps the president was provoked by a recent comment by McConnell at the Rotary Club in Florence, Kentucky that Trump’s lack of experience in politics and legislating had led to “excessive expectations,” that could not possibly be met.

This intra-party war is not productive, it will not accomplish what either party desires, but it will help Trump shore up his base.

print