This post from May 2016 was among the most widely circulated that I saw on Twitter yesterday — and that was before the MAGA mob descended on the Capitol. It was being retweeted in the morning after Republicans lost the Georgia runoffs (remember those?), only to take on a deeper meaning after a gang of degenerates started smashing their way into the House and Senate.
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016
Like the man says, it’s been a hell of a journey. Watch the floor speech he gave last night after the Senate reconvened, probably the only memorable one delivered yesterday apart from Mitch McConnell’s. Graham sounds slightly manic here, which may be due to adrenaline from the day’s events or trepidation at breaking from Trump so decisively at a fateful moment. Either way, he’s wound up. Watch, then read on:
It’s impossible for a Never Trumper to forgive Graham for four years of relentless toadying but at least he did the right thing at this moment. Over on the other side of the Capitol, MAGA stooges like Matt Gaetz were wondering aloud whether the sacking of the Capitol was some sort of Antifa false-flag operation even though several prominent alt-righters and QAnoners had already been identified from the footage online yesterday afternoon.
A question to which only Graham knows the answer: Would he have given this same speech in these same words if the mob had remained outside the building yesterday? There’s a lot of truth in this passage from David Post:
[Trump] may declare war on the Infidels who refused to join him in the coming months and years, or others may do so on his behalf. We shall see. But he would be doing so from a much, much weaker position than he was in just a few days ago, because his “base,” all of a sudden, is a lot smaller than it was before. The Party turned its back on him; only seven of 52 Republican Senators, once the line was drawn, crossed it at his behest. Fifteen percent—of Republicans…
As it turns out, the forces he unleashed [on the Capitol] gave him no place to hide.
What the Republican Party will look like in the aftermath of this debacle is anybody’s guess. But I do think the rioters may actually have—inadvertently, to be sure—performed a great service for the country. I am among those who believe that the country needs something it has not had for some time: A functioning, principled, conservative Republican Party. The events of January 6 have exposed for all to see the anti-democratic and dictatorial heart of Trumpism, and helped to push push it off to the fringe of the political landscape where it belongs. For that, we should all be grateful.
There are MAGA true believers in government like Gaetz who’ll never let Trump go, at least not until it’s proved conclusively to them that he’s more of a liability than an asset for them at the polls. But there are loads of opportunistic Trumpers inside and outside Congress who’ve been looking for a way to put some distance between the president and themselves as we begin the post-Trump era and suddenly they have a freakishly perfect pretext to do it. That’s not to say that the Grahams of the world aren’t sincerely disturbed by where Trumpism has led — although I’d bet not all are — just that it was always going to be awkward and risky for them to break publicly with him. Yesterday made it as easy as it could conceivably be.
And Graham’s not the only one who’s taken advantage:
— Phineas “Fweedom” Fahrquar (@irishspy) January 7, 2021
Cotton’s betting heavily on MAGA fever disappearing before the 2024 primary. I hope he’s right. Meanwhile:
Former Attorney General William Barr says President Donald Trump’s conduct as a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”
Barr said Thursday that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable” in a statement obtained by NBC News.
“Trump loyalty disintegrates,” reads the headline on a new Politico story this morning:
“He screwed his supporters, he screwed the country and now he’s screwed himself,” said a 2016 Trump campaign official, predicting his former boss would cease to remain a popular figure in GOP politics after Wednesday.
“Donald Trump caused this insurrection with lies and conspiracy theories about the election being rigged against him,” said Scott Jennings, a former aide to President George W. Bush who is close to the Trump White House. “The election was not stolen but this madness was fomented by the president and his top advisers.”…
“I don’t want to talk to him, said one Republican close to Trump, echoing a senior administration official who described the effort as futile. “What am I going to say? This is one of those moments when I don’t know if I want to be involved.”…
Tom Bossert, the president’s former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser, said Trump had “undermined American democracy baselessly for months” and was therefore “culpable for this siege.”
New GOP Rep. Nancy Mace, who’s already become the most interesting maverick in the freshman class, said “everything that he’s worked for … all of that — his entire legacy — was wiped out yesterday. We’ve got to start over.” Even the nihilistically hyperloyal GOP base is … mildly ambivalent about the smashing of the seat of American democracy:
If you’re sad to see loyalty towards the president evaporate just because he incited a crazed mob to overrun Congress, remember that he’s never given two sh*ts about the Republican Party apart from what it can do for him personally:
The president was telling people today that he was happy Loeffler and Perdue lost, according to a person familiar with the conversations. He said they didn’t defend him enough.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 7, 2021
The punchline is that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ran the most sycophantic campaigns in American history in order to ingratiate themselves to Trump voters. Their entire message was “we’ll do whatever Trump tells us.” When Trump endorsed $2,000 stimulus checks, they did too. When Cruz and Hawley said they’d object to block Trump’s certification, Loeffler vowed to object and Perdue said he would have if he could have. In the end they weren’t loyal enough because no one ever is. If you bought the pre-Tuesday spin that Democratic control of the Senate would mean the end of America as we know it, know that Trump either (a) doesn’t believe that himself or (b) does believe it but cares less about the end of the country than he does about Republican pols pushing his election conspiracy theories.
I’ll leave you with this, featuring a guy who seems to have finally understood very recently that loyalty is a sucker’s game with Trump.