Over the last 24 hours, Donald Trump and his allies have giddily quoted and cheered on two unlikely figures: Former House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump cited McConnell on the stump, attacking Cruz for antagonizing many of his colleagues in the US Senate. And Trumpworld is reveling in on-the-record comments from Boehner, who called Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh," and a "miserable" SOB. The Trump train is ostensibly fueled by anger at Washington's various betrayals, and a rigged system that benefits insiders and elites at the expense of average Americans. But the billionaire's bandwagon is more than happy to embrace card-carrying, central-casting members of The Establishment, so long as they're saying or doing things that are deemed helpful to the 'Trumpstablishment.' Trump supporters angrily rail against Beltway fat cats who "go along to get along" in political fights, then prance from one lavish cocktail party to the next, toasting their own superiority. Then they'll turn around and applaud bona fide establishment fixtures -- from Rudy Giuliani, to New Gingrich, to Boehner and McConnell -- while applying that now-meaningless term to conservatives who oppose Trump on policy and ideological grounds. Suddenly "go along to get along" is a necessary and laudable dealmaking virtue, and policy arguments are for uppity, weak-kneed nerds. Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the anti-intellectual, emotive phenomenon at play than this exchange between Rush Limbaugh and a caller on yesterday's show. Take it away, Sean in Philly:
Here's a seemingly bright and relatively articulate guy who's listened to Limbaugh since the very beginning breezily explaining that supporting Trump "isn't about conservatism...I know he's not a conservative." Trump is so appealing, he says, because he'll "fight dirty" against the Democrats, unlike the emasculated losers who've populated the GOP for years. As an example of that problem, the caller cites the Obamacare repeal fight:
"We have a landslide victory. We give [Republicans] the House. Do they repeal Obamacare? No! They do nothing. They say, 'well, we can't do anything because we don't have the Senate.' Okay, we give you the Senate. What do you do? 'Oh, we're not going to do anything because we're going to take our only weapon off the table before, you know, we do battle with these people.' We're sick and tired of fighting with people who won't fight."
First of all, if you agree with every word of this indictment, you should be very upset with...John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, freshly-minted allies in the fight to crush Cruz, who gave both men headaches over political tactics. Secondly, despite Sean's palpable frustration, his version of events (shared by many right-leaning voters) is just flat-out false. House Republicans have voted to repeal Obamacare in its entirety and on a piecemeal basis literally dozens of times. They've been mocked for it by the Left, who never point out that some of those votes succeeded and were signed into law. And after Republicans captured in the Senate, what happened? McConnell and company didn't take their "only weapon" off the table. They used it. They employed a process called 'reconciliation' to force through an Obamacare repeal vote that was not subject to a Democratic filibuster, using the very same tactic Harry Reid used to pass the law in order to get a repeal bill onto the president's desk. And then what? Obama vetoed it, and neither House had a two-thirds majority to override the veto. That is how the system works under the constitution, a document that conservatives claim to revere. Republicans did literally everything within their power to eradicate this unpopular, failing law -- including a very controversial government shutdown in 2013. That strategy, which ultimately failed, was spearheaded by Ted Cruz, who Sean from Philly goes on to criticize for, uh, not fighting. This represents near-total detachment from reality, yet he and many others vigorously believe all of it.
Is the GOP partially at fault for this? Yes, they've made promises that couldn't be kept and made it seem like winning midterm elections would be sufficient to stop the Obama agenda in its tracks (partially true) and reverse much of it (much less true). Nevertheless, the notion that Republican majorities have "done nothing" or "surrendered" in every fight is simply not the case. The kicker? In addition to conceding that Trump isn't a conservative, Limbaugh's caller admits that he "disagrees with probably 80 percent of what he believes." Yet he's given his vote to Trump because at least he the billionaire will engage in hard-nosed political fisticuffs -- even if he's fighting on the wrong side in four out of every five battles. There is no reasoning with this mentality, which prizes belligerence and emotional score-settling over all else. We're told that rejecting this petulant, sophomoric justification both on principle, and with an eye toward the fall, is an "establishment" ploy. We're living through the official demise of that term. In fact, since everyone's just tossing it about based on fleeting feelings, one could easily argue that as backers of a big government, tax-hikin', McConnell-quotin', Planned Parenthood defendin', Boehner textin', repeat Hillary donor who brags about buying pols, and golfs with virtually every powerful insider in the country, Trump and gang are the establishment. We must resist the sellout GOPt. I'll leave you with left-wing California Senator Barbara Boxer effectively going to bat for Trump...at least for now:
On MSNBC, Sen. Ma'am Boxer carries Trump water, turns "woman card" Q into anti-Carly rant. Gee, I wonder who she's rooting for as GOP nom.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 28, 2016