Alan Zendell, November 13, 2020
Ten days after the November 3rd election our nation is in a surreal place. If Steven Spielberg wrote it up and tried to sell it to Hollywood, they’d laugh him out of town. The spectacle of an American president who was clearly defeated in what the Department of Homeland Security described as “the cleanest, most secure election in our history,” behaving the way Donald Trump has is too bizarre even for Hollywood.
Here are some facts. In the first nine days since the election:
– Trump has refused to concede or acknowledge Joe Biden as the President Elect, instead filing baseless lawsuits around the country that are being routinely dismissed by judges of all political stripes;
– Trump has shown no interest in the business of being president;
– the United States has recorded 1,281,000 new COVID cases and 9,602 COVID-related deaths (with a number of states including Florida refusing to report);
– Trump has tweeted lies and debunked conspiracy theories nonstop and has embarked on a purge of senior officials in the Homeland Security and Defense Departments, inserting loyalist sycophants in their places;
– Trump ordered the General Services Administration to withhold transition funding mandated by federal law from the Biden team;
– the administration has blocked messages directed to President Elect Biden from foreign leaders;
– President Elect Biden has been denied access to security briefings.
All of these actions have been sanctioned and enabled by the Senate Republican caucus, in particular, by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But the red wall in the Senate has begun to crack in recent days as individual Senators realized the national security implications of Trump’s actions. And unlike the president, many Senators are actually embarrassed by the international spectacle of the nation tolerating Trump’s spiteful attack on its fundamental principles.
Polling late this week revealed that more than 80% of Americans accept the result of the election, and only 3% support Trump’s behavior. That means that even among his base of support it is only an extreme fringe that approves of his actions, which makes my head spin when I try to make sense of it all.
It’s obvious that Senate Republicans are focused on the two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021. Those elections will determine who controls the Senate. In our hyper-partisan environment, Mitch McConnell’s motivation is clear. He’s still terrified of Trump’s ability to mobilize his followers. If they stay home on January 5th, the Democrats’ chances of gaining control of the Senate go way up.
Annoying as that reality sounds, it really makes no sense. McConnell fears that if he doesn’t support Trump’s ongoing tantrum, the president’s base will turn on him. It’s the same extortion racket Trump has been running since the 2016 election, but McConnell doesn’t seem to realize that most of Trump’s base has already accepted that Biden won. Moreover, if McConnell wants to maximize Republican turnout in Georgia, his strongest argument is to accept Biden’s victory and warn about the consequences of losing control of the Senate in a Biden administration.
Even Lindsey Graham, a long-standing hawk on national security says Biden should receive daily security briefings, while continuing to enable the President’s tantrums. That makes the picture even clearer. Republicans are catering to Donald Trump as if he were an out-of-control five-year-old with the ability to blow everything up. That pretty much speaks for itself.
It has been well-documented that many of the 71 million people who voted for Trump were people who found his behavior childish and offensive, but who “liked his policies.” That’s an unsubtle code for having bought the lie that Biden would increase their taxes. We all know voters who’ve said that. Putting aside the reality that only the Congress has the power of taxation, is that sufficient reason to allow this madness to continue?
Millions of Americans are in serious trouble because of the pandemic, yet the government has no clear policy aimed at controlling the virus, and McConnell won’t let the Senate consider desperately needed stimulus legislation. Even as Bush-44’s Chief of Staff, Andy Card reminded the nation of the 9/11 Commission finding that the delayed transition caused by the Florida recount in 2000 may have significantly reduced our preparedness, the message hasn’t sunk in. With actors like Iran and North Korea, not to mention Russia and China alert for every weakness in America’s standing in the world, when are the Senate Republicans going to take away Trump’s Twitter privileges and lock him in his room?
I guess I should apologize to my well-behaved, almost five-year-old grandson for comparing Trump’s behavior to his. It’s a good thing he can’t read yet.