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Opinion

With Paul Ryan Stepping Down, It's Now Mitch McConnell's Turn

In the end, I’m going to blame Senator Mitch McConnell. That weak chinned, narrow shouldered insidious little troll of a man who comes from the same hometown as Muhammad Ali, Diane Sawyer, Hunter S. Thompson and me, is as underhanded as a New York city pimp on speed and as selfish as a two-year-old sitting in his play pen with a perpetually soiled diaper holding on to his stuffed elephant yelling “Mine! Mine! Mine!” until his weak-willed parents pull their hair out unable to stand the ranting any longer.

McConnell came to power as a moderate in Jefferson County, Kentucky as the County Judge/Executive at the end of the 1970s where and when I first met and interviewed him. But McConnell always had bigger ambitions. In 1980, he was one of the few Republicans to ride into D.C. in the Reagan Revolution. He did so by selling his soul and his shriveled little Grinch-like heart to the far right where lucrative dollars enticed him. He’s stayed there ever since.

Though not a fan of Donald Trump, McConnell certainly was poised to take advantage of him when the president swept into office on a whirlwind of stench and acrimony. The fetid odor was no stranger to McConnell who is used to wallowing with pigs, vermin and soiled laundry.

So, in one of the first moves in the Trump administration, McConnell helped Trump steal a Supreme Court seat that should’ve been filled during the Obama administration. It was the quintessential political move from McConnell—a man perpetually picked last at kickball practice, who never got out of his short pants and believes winning at any cost is worth any price. In some ways, McConnell is a lot like Trump.

Following McConnell’s lead, nearly every other Republican in Congress fell in line. It was too good to be true! They had a malleable, pliant, ego-centric president who could be manipulated into giving the far right what they always wanted—real decisive power. And yes. It was too good to be true.

The Faustian deal spear-headed by McConnell for control blew up in the GOP’s face for the very simple reason that in their zeal for the big “win,” they made the mistake of thinking they could control Donald Trump. No one can. That’s the mistake many have made, as his revolving door of employees shows and as his many examples of Twitter-litter demonstrate.
Folks on the The Hill say many Republicans are regretting selling their soul to the slimy alligator in the swamp, but can’t figure out how to extricate themselves from their self-imposed prison.
There is no overriding philosophy behind Trump. It is all very shallow and boils down to a couple of simple statements. He wants a border wall. Fair trade is good. The press is bad. If they say nice things about him then they can stay. If they don’t then they go. Everything else is made up as Trump flies on the seat of his pants leaving excrement-laden skid marks across the political countryside.

Trump has proven his ability to be bought—perhaps not by money, unless you’re a Russian oligarch ready to bail out his “Trump” brand empire—and that has yet to be proven. But you can buy him for a short time with affection and a kind disposition.

But if you think Trump will stay bought then you’re as deluded as the GOP and McConnell – who learned the hard way there’s no controlling the Donald. If you’re not for him, you’re against him; that is Donald’s overwhelming bottom line philosophy that guides his policy. And that puts him at war figuratively and literally with most people on the planet. He’s spoiling for a fight with North Korea, a move which may actually work because the leader of North Korea is similar to our president, but he doesn’t have as big a trigger as we do.

Trump continues to pick fights with the press, Democrats, Republicans (forcing many to retire), China, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, parts of Europe and probably the aide who didn’t bring him ketchup with his cheeseburger last night. Just this week, Tom Bossert resigned from his post as the Homeland Security Advisor. Paul Ryan is stepping down as Speaker of the House. Capitol Hill worries the president may retalliate against Bashar al-Assad's chemical attack in Syria without going through the proper channels of approval and discussion. The FBI is closing in, having raided private attorney Michael Cohen’s office. (Cohen, regarded as Trump’s fixer was heavily involved in the Stormy Daniels scandal; he’s the guy who wrote her a check for $130,000.)

In a nine-minute pool spray with a small number of reporters early this week, held ostensibly to talk about the problems in Syria, Trump spent seven minutes discussing the Cohen raid. Mind you, Syria had been involved in another series of chemical warfare atrocities against its own citizens—but Trump only spent two minutes talking about that. He was stoked and angry his private attorney’s office was raided.

He said that raid by the FBI was an attack against the country. A German reporter who was at the White House remarked how scary and strange it was to see a police investigation for corruption against a president labeled as an attack against the state. Trump is not the state. “This reminds me of what happened in my home country during the Nazis,” he said to reporters within earshot.

True to form, Trump ranted and raved and his demeanor in that pool spray reminded me of something I’ve seen before. When I was a young child I watched as a couple of our dogs cornered a muskrat in the backyard. That muskrat was dead, but when cornered fought so viciously the two dogs came away with wounds that took a long time to heal.

Trump is the muskrat. He has the same look in his eyes of fear and anger and he’s dangerous because should he lash out anything is possible, up to and including a devastating war against someone, anyone or any country he feels will distract us long enough for him to make his getaway.

By Tuesday, he had already managed to avoid the snarling dogs lingering on his doorstep, but with Bossert’s sudden departure, attributed to a fight with new National Security Advisor John Bolton and characterized as a resignation—or a forced resignation, depending on who you ask—found the dogs snarling again. Bolton, for his part, merely added to the drama. When Sara Cook of NHK News asked Bolton how his first day was going. His response: “What could go wrong?”

His Alfred E. Newman “What, me worry?” attitude aside, plenty was going wrong in the chaotic White House Tuesday. Still smarting from his attorney’s office being searched, Sarah Huckabee Sanders still won't say whether or not Cohen is still the president’s private attorney. In her press briefing Tuesday she merely told us we had to ask Cohen.

The administration continues to call the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt,” but in so much as the administration leveled sanctions on the 13 Russians indicted by Mueller, the president is either a party to a witch hunt or at least agrees that some of the Mueller investigation is legitimate.

I asked that question of Sanders Tuesday, but got a convoluted answer: “Just because there may have been involvement by Russia doesn't mean there was involvement by the Trump campaign,” Sanders told us.  I’m not saying Trump is guilty of anything—he hasn’t been charged with anything. Nor is James Comey, who, in his new memoir A Higher Loyalty, reckons anything that Trump did to intervene in the firing of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, may fall short of criminal obstruction of justice. But Sanders' aforementioned answer sure sounds like someone has a guilty conscience, like she didn’t understand the question or both.

Jonathan Karl from ABC asked Sanders about the president’s characterizing the Cohen search as an attack on our country and what we stand for, "It's an attack on our country…It's an attack on what we all stand for," the president said. Karl asked, “In what way is an FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office an attack on our country?”

Sanders, who has given up trying to explain what the president means when he tweets or says anything, has fallen back on similar tactics employed by her predecessor Sean Spicer. “I think that the president has been clear that he thinks that this has gone too far. And beyond that, I don't have anything to add, but I'd refer you back to the President's comments,” she said.

Meanwhile, McConnell lately has been silent on the Great Pretender in the White House. Folks on the The Hill say many Republicans are regretting selling their soul to the slimy alligator in the swamp, but can’t figure out how to extricate themselves from their self-imposed prison. The tale of the tape will come during the mid-term elections and there are staffers in McConnell’s office and elsewhere looking at trepidation with a “What hath God Wrought” attitude instead of Bolton's “What, me worry?” attitude he brought with him to the White House as he prepares his hawks and beats the war drums.

McConnell has no one to blame but himself. He helped create the monster just so he could fashion a win on the Supreme Court. He sold everything he had left to make it happen and the country is paying for his snide pretentiousness. Meanwhile the Mueller investigation continues as the administration takes its long circuitous route around the drain preparing to plunge God knows where.

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