Will McConnell and Ryan put party over country in defense of Trump?
© Greg Nash

The establishment wing of the Republican Party never thought that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE would be elected President of the United States.

In fact, they never even believed that he would be even nominated.

To all of them he was just a political novice and opportunist looking for a political party; his desire for office was an ego trip. When he actually became the nominee the party establishment, I'm sure, thought by his behavior and antics that he would not only lose, but lose big.

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When he won the general election (but lost the popular vote) the GOP congressional leadership surmised that they could have their way with him. They would work around him. Or best of all, let him play president and they would proceed to do their legislative business.

 

Jeb Bush, who failed miserably to become the GOP nominee, warned everyone that if Trump got elected it would be a "chaos president."

Bush was so right.

Every day there is a new eruption by the commander-in-chief. These self-inflicted actions have made the party leadership beyond anxious.

In their private moments and conversations they must be saying to themselves — can this guy survive?

The word "impeachment" is now mentioned and used more and more frequently. It is no longer the cry of just ultra liberal Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) but sober and taciturn Sen. Angus King (I), the Independent from Yankee reticent Maine, entertains the idea and possible reality.

I won't get into all the allegations surfacing daily, but suffice it to say that "obstruction of justice" is no light offense. If proven, it is grounds for impeachment and then conviction and removal from office.

It is now appropriate and timely to ask what will the Republican congressional leadership do and when will they do it?

The two major and leading figures have never demonstrated anything that can be deemed "profiles in courage."

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) is first and foremost a party preservationist and party functionary. Just look at his political background and history.

He was first elected in 1988 and is now serving his 9th term. He was elected to the House at the tender age of 28.

He was selected by Mitt Romney in 2012 as his running mate.

Yes, he has ideas and strays from party dogma on occasion, but his primary mission is to make sure the party thrives and remains in the majority. Most of the time he lets a spokesman speak for him when the going gets rough.

You are not going to see anytime soon or, for that matter, any time when Ryan leads the charge against a sitting Republican president. It is not in his political DNA. He can't bring himself to do it.

When he chooses to speak on the issue he reduces himself to platitudes.

The leader will not lead. He will look on from the sidelines.

For fantasy's sake let's assume others in the GOP House do get so fed up and feel so endangered that they call for impeachment.

Articles of Impeachment would go to the House Judiciary Committee. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) is the chair of that relevant committee. Goodlatte is no Peter Rodino.

The other members of the Committee, let me throw out some names. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertThis week: Congress seeks to avoid a shutdown Lawmakers call on Treasury to take tougher stance on Hamas in Qatar Colbert spoofs Louie Gohmert's Uranium One chart MORE (R-Texas), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father Overnight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' Flynn told associate Russia sanctions would be ‘ripped up’ early in Trump presidency MORE (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksHouse forges ahead with Dec. 22 spending bill Conservatives fear end-of-year ‘Christmas tree’ spending bill Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash MORE (R-Ariz.), Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSeven Texas lawmakers leaving Congress means a younger, more diverse delegation Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers Mounting GOP retirements threaten House majority MORE (R-Texas), and, best of all, Steve King (R-Iowa).

It is very difficult to imagine any of those mentioned allowing themselves to vote for one article of impeachment.

Now let's turn to the Senate.

If there was ever a more unflinching and unmovable party leader than Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.), I would like to hear that name.

You remember he is the guy who said the number one goal of his party was to make sure that "Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE not be re-elected."

Quite a statesman.

McConnell is serving in his sixth term. He was first elected in 1984. He has spent his entire political career climbing the party ladder. He was previously the Chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. He had served as Majority Whip under Bill Frist and then Minority Leader and finally Majority Leader.

He's renowned for being the leading opponent of any attempt at campaign finance reform. He is a champion for PACs.

This constant fight against any campaign finance reform clearly shows that McConnell is against any change that would disrupt the prevailing political order. Or in any way jeopardize Republican majority dominance.

Oh, one other convenient fact. His wife is Elaine Chao — the present Secretary of Transportation.

McConnell a few days ago permitted himself to go out on a limb with this comment. "I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda."

The dour, un-charming, uptight, buttoned-up senator is not a troublemaker. He, just like Ryan, will let others do the dirty work when and if necessary.

Ryan and McConnell — leaders in name only.

 

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, where he co-hosted the "D.C. Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station, where he hosted "The Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.


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