Friday, February 12, 2021


The answer: No.

The embarrassingly naive question, from Politico Playbook:
Could McConnell surprise us all?

... If one were to conduct a poll of congressional reporters and Capitol Hill denizens, we’d guess at least 90% would say there’s no way Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL will ever vote to convict DONALD TRUMP.

But indulge us for a moment to play out the extremely unlikely scenario that he does.

McConnell clearly sees Trump as a danger to the Republican Party. The two haven’t spoken since December, and McConnell has accused Trump of “provoking” the Capitol siege. McConnell is also 78, and there’s chatter already underway about whether he’ll retire in 2026 rather than face reelection at age 84.

So, could he be viewing this impeachment vote as a legacy-defining moment?
"There are complicating factors," we're told.
A vote to convict could make winning back the Senate in 2022 more difficult. It might also trigger calls from the GOP base for McConnell to step aside as leader, forcing his own members to choose between him and their voters.
These aren't "complicating factors." These are the only factors. McConnell cares about nothing except power. He wants to remain the Senate leader for as long as humanly possible. He wants control of the Senate back after the midterms and the presidency back after 2024, so he can go right back to cutting taxes for the rich and confirming judges. If he'd valued principle over power, he would have acknowledged Joe Biden's victory in early November. Instead, he indulged Trump's Big Lie because he wanted to keep Georgia voters motivated during the runoff campaigns. If he's angry at Trump, it's because that didn't work.

If McConnell votes to convict, the right-wing media will call for his head, and Senators Hawley, Cruz, Lee, Paul, and possibly Graham will be among those demanding that he step down. McConnell would probably survive an attempt to dump him, but his enduring presence in the job would be a sign to the citizens of MAGA Nation that McConnell's party is not their party. McConnell doesn't want that. He may genuinely despise Trump, but he still wants Trump's voters.

He had two chances to vote in favor of the constitutionality of this impeachment. He voted no twice.

And no, I'm not impressed with reports on Wednesday that McConnell had described the impeachment vote as a "vote of conscience" for his caucus. McConnell has sent that "vote of conscience" message twice -- there was a similar round of stories in mid-January.

This isn't a signal that McConnell will vote to convict. It's a substitute for a vote to convict. McConnell wants to retain MAGA voters, but he also wants to retain voters who were disgusted by the riot and by Trump. How can he tell those voters he's on their side without actually doing anything that will alienate MAGA voters? This is how. He thinks it's such an effective empty gesture that he keeps making it.

This is absurd speculation. McConnell will fall in line. Power is what matters to him, so he has no choice.

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