|LAZARO GAMIO / AXIOS|
There are many people to blame for the election of Donald Trump, with the exception of Vladimir Putin too many to enumerate here. But there is only one person to blame for Trump's stranglehold on America.
That person is Mitch McConnell.
After eight years in which tormenting Barack Obama was McConnell's primary occupation and major "accomplishment," his central role in what happened after the Monster in Chief put his hand on the Lincoln Bible on January 21, 2017 and told the first of many thousand of lies as president of a diminished and vulnerable United States is appalling but not surprising.
As Senate majority leader, McConnell's power was pretty much absolute. Trump, despite the many conferred privileges of office, was relatively powerless compared to McConnell as not just the highest ranking member of Congress, otherwise known in the Constitution as the branch of government charged with being a check on the president, but a Republican Party éminence grise who might have come to have second thoughts about the nomination of a man so profoundly unfit for office.
But in the succeeding two-plus years of crap, corruption, coverup and catastrophe, every abuse of power that could have been checked by McConnell has been greenlighted, usually tacitly. In fact, McConnell's silence -- a staggeringly bad imitation of an old dog rolling over and playing dead -- in the face of desecration of the constitutional order has spoken much louder than words.
I have written harshly of McConnell, primarily concerning his leading role in the coup de grâce of his two-term torment of Obama, which was refusing to join the president in sounding the alarm once the extent of Russian election interference became known.
But it is time to revisit the sins . . . no, make that crimes, of the man that Charles Pierce calls "the thief of the nation's soul" because America is entering a new circle of Hell.
First and foremost, what you need to understand is that the power that McConnell has conferred on Trump through his seeming acquiescence is temporary. On loan, as it were, and redeemable at a moment's notice. McConnell has no personal investment in Trump and never has. He probably hates Trump's guts, while his survival as a GOP majordomo is contingent on staying on the president's good side until his own power is seriously in jeopardy and he can scut away and break ranks. Or Trump double crosses him.
The new circle of Hell is subpoenas ignored and executive privilege asserted whether it is Trump's personal and business tax returns, Trump's post-elect cover-up of hush money payments, Trump's inaugural committee, Trump's family's personal finances, approval of security clearances for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and others although they were deemed security risks. No comment from McConnell.
And yet another round of purges, this time the top tier of the Department of Homeland Security, Citizen and Immigration Service and Secret Service as Trump discards officials unwilling to overtly break the law, as he demands, and tries to replace them with conscience-free sycophants willing to commit cruelties against asylum seekers, including the resumption of separating children from their parents. Meanwhile, the administration is working to increase visas for low-skilled guest workers like those Trump employs at Mar-a-Lago and his other resorts and golf clubs.
The purges drew a toothless three "very" warning from senior Republican Senator Charley Grassley, who said he was "very, very, very concerned." No comment from McConnell.
Then there is the Mueller report, and Robert Barr's coverup and cover up of his coverup in usurping the constitutionally-mandated role of Congress. No comment from McConnell.
That noise you hear as you scroll toward the bottom of this depressing post is the sound of Never Trumpers chewing their cuds as they stand at the pasture gate and moo for Democrats to bail them out. But make no mistake. Their concern is less Trump being defeated if he survives his legal gauntlet and stands for reelection than saving old-time conservatism.
Old-time conservatism is trickle-down economics as opposed to Trump micturating on the Oval Office Carpet, shredding the social safety net as opposed to Trump ham-handedly trying to destroying Obamacare and Medicaid, packing federal courts with right wingers as opposed to the outright incompetents Trump has nominated, supporting Israel as opposed to Trump's overt anti-Palestinian bigotry and slavish support for fellow demagogue Benjamin Netanyahu, and perpetual war for the defense industry and its Pentagon bankrollers as opposed to Trump starting an inconvenient war, say with North Korea.
So let's not just forget about helping out the moo-cows, but tell them that their advice to the burgeoning field of Democratic presidential candidates about how to defang the Monster in Chief is not welcome. They need to clean up their own mess, not leave it to Elizabeth or Beto or Bernie, and there is no better place to start than working to end McConnell's tenure as the longest-serving Republican leader in Senate history and denying him reelection to a seventh term in 2020.
The definition of what constitutes a traitor is malleable. A literalist will explain that someone cannot technically be a traitor as was Benedict Arnold when the country is not at war. But America is at war. It is at war with itself, and while Donald Trump is substantially to blame, the ultimate culprit is the old dog -- Mitch McConnell.