Donald Trump is clearly skilled enough at con artistry to cheat his way through an election and steal the presidency. But as good as he is at the whole fraud thing, he’s just as good at sabotaging himself by saying or doing the dumbest thing possible at the worst possible time for him. We just saw a prime example of that when Trump abruptly turned what had been a comparatively quiet news day into a flaming toxic waste dump.
Donald Trump’s SAT scores were so embarrassingly low that he made threats against anyone who might have been tempted to release them publicly, but we suspect that even Trump has just enough brain cells to count to twenty. That’s the number of Senate Republicans who would have to go along with impeachment, if it’s going to result in his ouster.
When it comes to the GOP we’re talking about a bunch of corrupt wishy-washy cowards, of course. But they’ve spent the past week voting against Trump in increasing numbers, because they’re getting the sense that his criminal scandals are going to take him down, and they don’t want to go down with him.
The key number is twelve, because that’s how many GOP Senators just voted against Trump on what he considers his most crucial issue, his national emergency border wall stunt. It was four last week, and now it’s twelve, so it could be even higher by the time this comes back for a veto override vote. If and when it does reach twenty, it’s time for Trump to panic. If twenty Senate Republicans are willing to vote to kill Trump’s wall fantasy, then they’re probably willing to vote to remove him from office if they conclude that it’s what’s selfishly best for their own Senate reelection chances.
In other words, with these weakling Senate Republicans now holding Donald Trump’s fate in their quivering hands, it would be really smart of Trump to try to make nice with them, and to throw them a bone. After all, they’re more likely to keep him around longer if they think they can get a bit more usefulness out of him.
So what did Donald Trump do in furtherance of this goal? He launched a vicious Twitter attack today on the late John McCain. Someone mentioned McCain on Fox News, and Trump was watching, and he just couldn’t help himself. Trump has attacked McCain before and gotten away with it, but that was back when he still had leverage over the Republican Party. These days it’s the opposite. Trump needs the GOP Senate’s help to survive, and now he’s attacking the patron saint of the GOP Senate.
It’s not that any Republican Senators are saying to themselves, “You know what? I was going to stick with Donald Trump, but now that he’s insulted John McCain, I’m too offended to stick with him.” They don’t operate that way. But they do operate this way: “I’ve been looking for an excuse to vote against Trump’s survival, and I’ve been afraid of taking too much heat for it, but now that he’s attacked GOP war hero McCain, I can opportunistically sell that to my constituents as the reason I had to finally turn against him.”
It’s not even that the GOP Senate will use this now. They’ll stick it in their back pocket, for when Robert Mueller’s report comes out and fully exposes Donald Trump for the criminal and traitor he is, and the inevitable impeachment movement begins. At whatever point these Republican Senators selfishly calculate that it’s in their best interest to throw Trump to the SDNY wolves, whether it’s weeks or months from now, they’ll start making a big deal out of the fact that Trump attacked McCain today. Trump just made it so much easier for the GOP to dunk him once it finally decides to.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report