By George Ball
We are all watching the President’s latest bait and switch. Which, by the way, seems so absurdly transparent that our media pundits’ failure to clearly describe it is itself concerning.
Trump’s threatened upending of the COIVD relief effort does not target those who need relief. It targets what is left of the Republican establishment. In recent days, all 50 states have certified their electors. McConnell has stated the obvious (that Biden will be president) and told his caucus to not challenge any of the certified electors on January 6th. Trump has lost scores of legal challenges so frivolous as to be judicially sanctionable. And the Republican Senate caucus, which was unable to coalesce around a $1,200 relief payment, haltingly agreed to a $600 one.
Trump can’t do anything about the courts or the state certifications. But Trump can (and is) demonstrating to the Republican caucus that he can still hurt them while punishing McConnell for belatedly putting party and country over Trump’s ego. Why? This playbook is not a complex read. Trump has one lodestar; his ego. He has one goal – to subvert the election. And he has one remaining pathway to do so, however illusory; that is, is the congressional vote count of electors on January 6th. By pitting McConnell and the Republican caucus against their base, Trump is trying to leverage both into rejecting certified electors and, in so doing, denying us our right to vote.
How will we know if I am right? If in the next few days Trump substantially reduces his $2,000 “relief” figure, and that empty gesture is followed on January 6th by more than a handful of Republican Senators joining the idiot right members of the House in their bid to overturn the election, then we will be able to see the outlines of a leveraged deal.
But even if this discouragingly Machiavellian analysis is wrong, Trump’s $2,000 gambit shows that he will not be corralled by McConnell or anyone else. Surrounded by a rapidly narrowing circle of sycophants, Trump’s poisonous mediocrity has now been given full rein.
Stay tuned. We are still living in Trump world, where a day feels like a year.
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