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 TrumpSpecial counsel looking into possible money laundering by Manafort: report Top Dem slams Trump for touting 'Made in America' while outsourcing Mounting nationwide immigration enforcement costs 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 RyanKushner speech to congressional interns delayed Overnight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M sanctions fine Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda 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 GohmertLouie GohmertSteve King compares military pay for gender transition to Ottoman's castrating slaves House passes 6.5B defense policy bill Budget process drags as GOP struggles for consensus MORE (R-Texas), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Trey GowdyTrey GowdyGOP lawmaker wants former Obama aide to testify Overnight Cybersecurity: FBI pick says Russia probe not a 'witch hunt' | Massive Verizon data leak | Agencies restricted from using Russian security software GOP Rep. Gowdy slams Trump team for 'amnesia' on Russia meetings MORE (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Trent FranksTrent FranksHouse briefed on anti-ISIS campaign progress Republicans rally around Sessions after Trump criticism Rep: Charlie Gard granted permanent residence status MORE (R-Ariz.), Ted PoeTed PoeKudos for backing US-Cuba reset House bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension For the sake of police, don’t back the Back the Blue Act 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 McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama Fox News personality: GOP healthcare plan says ‘ideology is less important than victory' 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 ObamaMounting nationwide immigration enforcement costs 20 attorneys general urge DeVos to keep college sexual assault protections RNC slams CNN's Cillizza over Trump-Putin analysis 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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