Thursday, April 07, 2022


I appreciate this effort by Axios's Jonathan Swan:

Swan didn't get McConnell to acknowledge his own moral bankruptcy, but he shone a bright spotlight on it:
Swan pressed McConnell on one of the biggest incongruences between Republicans repudiating Trump and then turning around and supporting him. In February 2021, after Trump’s second impeachment trial, McConnell delivered a remarkable indictment of the former president (even while voting against his conviction, citing what he deemed a technicality). He said that Trump had, for all intents and purposes, incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol. He blasted Trump for not quelling the unrest — instead watching it unfold “happily” — and leaving Vice President Mike Pence in danger. He called it a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

But less than two weeks later, McConnell was asked whether he would vote for Trump again if Trump were the 2024 GOP nominee. And he said yes.

Swan began the exchange by asking the famously bare-knuckled Republican leader where he draws his “moral red lines.”

... why did McConnell say he would vote for Trump anyway?

“As a Republican leader of the Senate, it should not be a front-page headline that I will support the Republican nominee for president,” McConnell said.

Swan interjected: “After you said that? I think it’s astonishing.”

“I think I have an obligation to support the nominee of my party, and I will,” McConnell said.
Swan persisted:
SWAN: Liz Cheney, who has the same view [as] yours of January 6, she said she doesn't want Donald Trump anywhere near the White House, and she's going to work to not make that happen, because she thinks that there are some things more important than party loyalty.

McCONNELL: Well, maybe you ought to be talking to Liz Cheney.

SWAN: No, but I'm not trying to -- I really -- it's not a gotcha. I'm just actually trying to understand, like, is there any threshold for you of what --

McCONNELL: Well, you know, I say many things I'm sure people don't understand.
Swan was genuinely exasperated, and McConnell seemed peeved. (At one point he said, testily, “Do you want to spend some more time on this?”) The interview was not as brutal as it could have been, but it wasn't the "we're chums and this is just a game" nonsense we get from many insiders who interview cutthroat Republican leaders.

But I wish Swan had moved on from Trump to ask McConnell about the meaning of his statement that his support for the GOP nominee is automatic. I wish he'd asked,
So what I think you're saying is that it doesn't matter whether the Republican nominee for president is morally repugnant because it's categorically impossible for a Republican to be more morally repugnant than literally any Democrat. Is that what you're saying?
I would have liked to hear McConnell respond to that question because I know that he and nearly all his fellow Republicans approach politics as if there's no greater evil on earth than being a Democrat -- but most members of the press corps and most voters (not to mention most D.C. Democrats) don't believe that's how Republicans think and operate.

I also wish Swan had asked McConnell whether he'd support any future Republican presidential nominee. Marjorie Taylor Greene? Paul Gosar? Steve Bannon? Mike Flynn? Mike Lindell? Nick Fuentes? Because we really can't rule out the possibility that any one of these people might be the GOP's candidate for president in the foreeeable future. The barrel has no bottom, and the party's voters just want rage.

McConnell would probably say that there's no point in responding to a ridiculous series of hypotheticals. And Axios's readership is probably not ready to acknowledge the depths of the Republican Party's depravity. But we need to confront this sometime.

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