Friday, January 4, 2019

The Key Player in the Shutdown is McConnell, Not Trump

Look, it's obvious that Lord Fauntleroy could care less about the plight of thousands of government workers during his government shutdown. When you don't have a shred of decency or possess an ounce of empathy, you're incapable of feeling another person's pain. I sincerely doubt that Trump has gone a day, much less weeks or months, without his massive ego being stroked nine ways to Sunday. Just look at how he carried on about not being able to get away to Mar-A-Lago over the holidays. Talk about being pampered!

And you can also throw out any concern he might have about what his shutdown is doing to the markets. In Trump's demented, warped brain, he probably sees a cratering Dow Jones as an opportunity to buy some stocks on the cheap. For someone who once callously referred to the housing crash, in which millions of people lost the equity in their homes, as just "business," it fits a predictable, if depraved, pattern. To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat shit and die."

But Mitch McConnell is not Trump. Don't get me wrong. It's not that McConnell's heart is any bigger or that he has a greater capacity to show empathy. It's just that, unlike general bone spurs, he has an instinct for political survival that Trump can't even spell, much less appreciate. McConnell no more wants this shutdown than he wants a Democratic majority in the Senate.

And that is why he, and not Trump, will hold the key as to how long this shutdown lasts. Because he realizes that the longer this charade goes on, the worse Republican poll numbers become. Already there are cracks forming in the wall of resistance. Corey Gardner, the junior senator from Colorado who's up for reelection next year, has publicly called for the government to be reopened, sans Trump's wall funding. He and several other vulnerable Republican senators, who are facing an uphill battle to retain their seats, are not going to die on this beach head. It's only a matter of time before McConnell faces a rebellion within his own conference.

And that's where I believe he will finally say enough is enough. He'll call Trump on the phone and tell him that he's going to put Nancy Pelosi's bills on the floor where they will likely get at least 70 votes, which means they will be able to override any presidential veto. Trump will explode at him and call him every name in the book. That's what little boys do when you take away their toys. They throw temper tantrums. But, mark my words, McConnell will have the final say.

Exactly when this will happen no one knows for certain. With Republicans it always comes down to their resistance to pain, especially the pain they inflict on themselves. And make no mistake about it: this shutdown is a textbook example of self abuse run riot. The toddler in chief huffs and puffs, holds his breath and counts to a zillion while what's left of his party blindly follows him off the cliff.

Even Republicans, who have always had a problem with science, will have to grudgingly admit that when it comes to the law of gravity, the effects are very real and quite lethal.

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