Friday, May 27, 2022


Here are two stories I've read this morning. First, this one:
Donald Trump ... faced a series of setbacks in Tuesday’s primary elections as voters rejected his efforts to unseat two top targets for retribution: Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state, both of whom rebuffed Trump’s extraordinary pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But the magnitude of defeat in the governor’s race — more than 50 percentage points — was especially stunning and raised questions about whether Republican voters are beginning to move on from Trump.

Nearly seven years after the onetime reality television star launched what seemed to be an improbable campaign for the White House, the “Make America Great Again” movement Trump helmed isn’t going anywhere. But voters are increasingly vocal in saying that the party’s future is about more than Trump.

“I like Trump a lot, but Trump is in the past,” said David Butler of Woodstock, Georgia, who voted for Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday and said Trump’s endorsements had “no” impact “whatsoever” on his thinking.
And then this:
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol has started contacting witnesses to appear before the American public during its hearings in June — and it is interested in hearing from officials from the Trump White House, Justice Department and Vice President Mike Pence’s team....

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, however, is unlikely to be a part of the committee’s final push.

Even as the evidence detailing her involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election mounts and scrutiny of individuals linked to the alternate elector plan has ramped up, the committee is unlikely to add the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the list of individuals it has attempted to question.

... lawmakers on the House panel have expressed concerns about allowing a focus on Thomas to divert attention from Trump, according to people familiar with the committee’s discussions....
Am I wrong to see a link between these stories?

I've never believed that anyone will actually hold Trump accountable for any of his misdeeds. But many people assure me that Trump's time in the barrel is coming, and I just need to be patient.

One possibility that's occurred to me: Maybe Trump will be held accountable, but only because many Republicans want that to happen. They're ready to be rid of him. And this is perfect: He can be brought down by a committee that's overwhelmingly Democratic, but also includes two Republicans who are seen by the GOP base as the worst RINOs of all. So if Trump falls, the base will believe it was because Democrats and their enablers brought him down. In the eyes of GOP voters, Republicans in good standing will have done nothing dishonorable, while anger at Democrats will reach new heights. With a weakened Joe Biden in the White House, that clears the field for a new Republican standard-bearer who can win elections by focusing on the post-Trump GOP's obsessions (critical race theory, the trans menace) but can also promise revenge for what happened to Trump, despite being the prime beneficiary of Trump's downfall.

I imagine that this is precisely what Mitch McConnell wants. The same goes for Liz Cheney. Cheney might be the top RINO on the committee, but she's still a Republican, and we learned in March that she really, really doesn't want Ginni Thomas subpoenaed. The restoration of a pre-Trump GOP that Cheney and other Establishment Republicans long for would be the restoration of a party in which Clarence Thomas was a hero.

So that's the plan, I think: Dump Trump, blame Democrats and RINOs (Cheney will sacrifice herself for the cause if necessary, secure in the knowledge that many lobbying jobs await her if she's defeated), then let someone new win in 2024, partly by seeming like a fresh face, and partly by leveraging GOP rage at Trump's downfall.

But there are two problems with plan from the Establishment GOP's point of view. First, Democrats aren't very good at holding Republicans accountable. They could fail and make Trump stronger. Second, if the establishmentarians believe that Trump's downfall would lead to a presidential win by someone old-school -- Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie -- they're delusional. The next GOP nominee will be Ron DeSantis if Trump falls, and he's Trumpier than Trump. If it's illiberalism they fear, they'll get more of it from DeSantis than they would from Trump.

Then again, they may only fear erratic illiberalism, of the Trump variety. In that case, they'll be perfectly happy with the Orbanesque rule of DeSantis.

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