US President-elect Donald Trump (2nd R) walks with his wife Melania Trump, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on November 10, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Like many other parts of his life — including his Screen Actors Guild membership, and also his presidency — Donald Trump’s tumultuous relationship with Senator Mitch McConnell is ending with a dramatic, petty stream of choice words that he cannot share on Twitter because he’s been banned from social media.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said on Tuesday. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”
Trump’s statement is odd, and not just because it has the cadence of a Mean Girls quote and begs the question of whether he just looked up “grumpy” in a thesaurus and chose three adjectives at random. (It’s commendable that his vocabulary has progressed past “sad!,” but should be noted that “dour,” “sullen,” and “unsmiling” all mean the same thing.)
This also comes after Trump was acquitted in the Senate this weekend. Like most of other Senate Republicans, McConnell actually voted against convicting Trump on Saturday, citing constitutional concerns. However, McConnell did clarify his stance on the deadly Capitol attack that led to multiple deaths and Trump’s second impeachment. “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” he said. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.”
McConnell’s criticisms of Trump might certainly be true, but they aren’t commendable. The fact that he actually understands the gravity of Trump’s “unconscionable” actions and still voted in favor of acquittal proves that he cares about power more than democracy, justice, or his own conscience. His flimsy excuse — that the Senate has “no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen” — feels like a bad joke after he intentionally slowed down the impeachment process, despite confirming Trump’s third Supreme Court Justice pick at breakneck speed.
Ironically (or perhaps completely unironically?), Trump’s words are just as hypocritical. Two years ago, after McConnell helped confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump praised McConnell as someone who upholds the values of the Constitution. “Generations from now, Americans will know that Mitch McConnell helped save the constitutional rule of law in America,” he said.
His opinion of McConnell soured when his once-ally acknowledged Joe Biden’s election win. “Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot). Too soon to give up,” Trump tweeted in December. “Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!”
Other prominent GOP leaders are choosing sides. Mike Pence has distanced himself from Trump, and even Nikki Haley denounced him. Senator Lindsey Graham admitted that Trump “can be a handful” (which is one way to put it), but also insisted that he’s “a hell of a president on all the things conservatives really believe in.”
Ultimately, however, no one leaves this situation with their integrity intact, because neither Trump nor McConnell had any to begin with. That’s what’s really dour and sullen — or, you know: sad!
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