In mid December, after the Republicans in Congress had spent all year tripping over themselves and each other, they suddenly and curiously united in unanimous fashion to pass a historically unpopular tax bill. They also unanimously fell in line behind Donald Trump. It became clear that the GOP had decided, for the time at least, to put all of its chips down on trying to prop up a dying Trump presidency. Now that plan has just gone haywire.
The GOP Congress has been facing a difficult dilemma. If it unites behind Trump in the hope of keeping his approval rating from fatally falling into the twenties, the Resistance will punish the GOP in the 2018 congressional elections. If it throws Trump under the bus, his remaining supporters will punish the GOP in 2018. Either way, the most likely result is a whole lot of Republicans in Congress will lose their jobs. They’re facing two bad options. For a moment they were united behind propping Trump up. Not any longer.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who viciously attacked Donald Trump last fall, was one of the holdouts who fell in line behind Trump in order to get the tax scam bill passed. Now Flake is preparing to give a speech from the Senate floor this week comparing Trump to Joseph Stalin (link). What happened to the plan? Why is Flake blowing it up already? He must have concluded that Trump’s latest troubles have become so problematic that the GOP isn’t getting any more of its legislation passed any time soon anyway, and so he’s going to resume his war on Trump.
For now there’s no way to tell if Jeff Flake has unilaterally decided to become a one-man wrecking crew against Donald Trump, or if others in the Republican Senate are tacitly behind him on this. At the least, the brief cohesion within the GOP Senate is gone. By setting Trump on fire like this and creating yet another Trump scandal, Flake knows that he’s greatly reducing the odds of the GOP being able to pass any more partisan bills this year. It also means that the 2018 congressional elections are going to be every Republican for himself – a strategy that’ll end up hurting them even worse.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report