Saturday, February 20, 2021


Tim Miller of The Bulwark is right: There is no Republican civil war, and there'll be no friction in 2022 between what we're now calling the Mitch McConnell wing of the party and the Donald Trump wing:
The Ohio Senate race provides a nice preview to what I’d like to call the Republican party’s UnCivil Unwar. There are currently two major, declared candidates in the GOP contest to replace the retiring Rob Portman.

The first, Josh Mandel, was formerly the state treasurer and back in 2012 he ran for Senate against Sherrod Brown as your conventional Marco Rubio/Eric Cantor/Mitt Romney style Republican. The second is Jane Timken, the former Ohio GOP chair, a Harvard graduate and the wife of a steel magnate. Both had been allies of the centrist Republican Governor John Kasich, with Timken even supporting his bid for president in 2016.

If you were not familiar with Ohio politics, you might think that both of these candidates would be on the McConnell side of the “Civil War” and that there must be some rabid, Gym Jordan-style Trumpkin waiting in the wings.

But in fact, both Timken and Mandel are competing in the “Trump Lane” in the primary according to NBC News. No, really. After Trump beat Kasich in 2016, Mandel started vouching for Pizzagate Jack Posobiec while Timkin Brutused John Kasich and cleansed the state party of anyone who wore the scarlet K.

Trump fealty (and Kasich calumny) has been the coin of the realm in the nascent primary campaign. Ohio Capital Journal reporter Tyler Buchanan notes that over two-thirds of each candidate’s tweets have been about Trump since they launched their respective campaigns.

Miller continues:
And forget Ohio: I don’t expect there to be any contested Senate primary in the lower 48 where there will be a viable Republican candidate who blames Trump for the insurrection, admits Biden won the election fairly, and argues we need to turn the page on Trump.

The Trump/McConnell Civil War is one big Spiderman Doppelgänger meme, with Spidey #1 supporting a Trump autocracy both privately and publicly and Spidey #2 supporting a Trump autocracy in public, while privately whispering to donors that the cop-killing coup went a tad too far for their taste.

In the Ohio Senate primary the “Trump Lane” is the entire highway.
But here's the thing: McConnell will be perfectly fine with candidates who fit the Spidey #2 template, just as he was fine with Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (both of whom nearly won). His only quibble with Trumpism is that he doesn't want candidates who are unacceptably crazy-sounding, and he doesn't want Trump going to candidates' states and telling the GOP base that the whole system is corrupt and all the elections are rigged in favor of Democrats. He just wants whatever wil work to get him his majority back.

One more thing: After the Republican primary is won by Timken or Mandel, the victor will probably tick slightly to the left and begin sounding a tiny bit less Trumpy (without, of course, saying anything to alienate the God Emperor) -- and the press will tell us there's nothing to worry about if this red-hat-wearing election truther wins, because he or she is really a conventional conservative. David Brooks and Kathleen Parker will tell us not to worry -- America will be fine.

By November 2022, the Overton window will be far to the right of where it is now -- unless Democrats find a way to win a few seats back. In addition to Ohio, there'll be Senate races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Iowa where Democrats should be competitive, and where they're likely to be running against Trumpers (or Trumpers of convenience). We look at the polls now and say that Trumpism is offputting to a significant majority of Americans. We'll see whether that's the case two years from now.

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