I stayed up as long as I could last night, which for me was 11:00 p.m.
Of course, I was watching the Georgia results come in. Nothing was decided by the time I turned off the T.V., but I thought I knew the outcome due to trends.
Just before I went to bed, I tweeted this:
No need to over -think what just happened to Republicans in Georgia. You can’t tell your base for 2 full months that the process is rigged against them, and then wonder why not enough of them showered up to participate in the rigged process.
— Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) January 6, 2021
Truth be told, my thumbs typed “showered,” not “showed.” (It was not booze. It was fatigue. My post-Christmas detox is still underway.)
So that was my last tweet of the night. Here was the president’s:
If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Me? I am nothing if not consistent. Maybe you’d say the same thing about him, at least with regard to the 2020 election.
Speaking of which, I blame President Trump. Both for his own loss and now the loss of the Senate.
I also blame his enablers. The “Emperor has no clothes” approach to what happened on November 3rd caught up to the GOP last night.
It cost the party both seats in Georgia, and hence control of the U.S. Senate. It gives Joe Biden a shot at getting something done.
That is if the other Joe allows. That would be Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), now the most important man in Washington D.C.
Not only did Trump’s mishandling and being a sore loser cost GOP the Senate, but I think it also ruined any chance he has of being president again.
And he could have been president again.
Sure, mark the tape. It’s January 6th, 2021. In 4 years, when he is set to be inaugurated as the nation’s 47th president, you can remind me that I was wrong!
My theory is two-fold. First: Trump’s narcissism took him and his party down. Second: it did not have to end this way.
There was an alternative that would have protected, even polished, his legacy. But he was incapable of executing because of his personality traits. Yes, that same personality that draws the crowd and fires up the base, runs contrary to the status quo and gives him his populist appeal.
It also has an underbelly of conceit that we have seen exclusively for the past two months. “Fraud, rigged, and stolen” are the words most heard for two months.
But hey, come participate! All the while, a pandemic raged!
Imagine a different approach: One where Trump accepted defeat on November 3rd and then used his remaining time in office to remind us of what an underdog he portrays himself to be. He came so close despite a widespread media hostility. He almost did pull off re-election.
So, imagine if he turned his attention not to griping and golfing, but to a celebration of people being vaccinated for COVID-19 in under a year. A miracle!
I am picturing photo ops of rolled-up sleeves all over America, an Air Force One thank-you tour, and packed airport hangers of people getting vaccine shots. He could have been delivering his customary, entertaining, funny speeches talking about what a wild ride it’s been. He’d be teasing the future and laying out a laundry list of his accomplishments.
The things he said he would do and did… And then some.
You may not regard these as accomplishments. You might think of them liabilities, but the point is that his base would view them as such. Any fair observer must recognize that he did things he said he would do, a rarity.
First, of course, would be is his impact on the Supreme Court – he named three Justices: Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett. He had a great impact on the federal bench generally, especially circuit courts. Frankly, that is where most law is made.
He ended the Iran Nuclear Deal. He withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. He replaced NAFTA with the USMCA trade deal. He built “some” wall. Created Space Force. Moved the U.S. embassy in Isreal to Jerusalem. Obtained a massive tax cut. He oversaw record job growth – four million jobs created since the election and the lowest black unemployment ever. Ended the individual mandate. Enacted “Right to Try” legislation and prison reform. And, of course, Operation Warp Speed!
You haven’t heard any of that lately. Hell, you really didn’t hear much of that during the campaign. He could have laid a predicate to take advantage of whatever bumps are to come in the road for the new administration.
And there will be bumps in Biden’s road. There always are. Especially now, with the massive task of distributing a vaccine that will take place overwhelmingly on Biden’s watch. Not on Trump’s watch. It’s natural there be yearning for a predecessor. There always is. Billboards that say: “Miss me yet?”
Trump squandered all that.
And he continues to do so today in Washington with this charade of challenging the Electoral College. There is zero chance of altering the election outcome.
Instead, he is forcing Mike Pence – the one guy left in the inner circle who has not been subject to Trump’s public wrath – to walk the plank. However, that appears to be changing.
Worse than whether Trump helped or hurt his party and his own political fortunes is the fact that he is threatening national stability in the process
Here’s a sign: Last night, Senator Mitt Romney flew from Utah to Washington. He was heckled. Things got ugly.
From The Washington Post today, Jaclyn Peiser writes:
“Under dimmed cabin lights on a flight from Salt Lake City on Tuesday, a woman bellowed a rallying cry to a group of Romney supporters headed to D.C. To rally behind the president, urging them to tell fellow passenger Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) “what we think.”
“Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” they chanted for 20 seconds.
“Resign, Mitt!” another shouted.
The video, which went viral on Tuesday, is the latest sign of a growing divide in the Republican Party over President Trump’s false claims of a rigged election, which Romney has pointedly criticized. The incident foreshadows the rancor expected in the nation’s capital this week as thousands of trump backers arrive to protest congress certifying the electoral college victory for President-elect Joe Biden.”
I worry about violence today in D.C.
All this is brought on using a pliant conservative media to whip a political base into a lather with unfounded conspiracy. This is instead of the alternative: accepting defeat and attempting a comeback in the classic American way.
Why did Republicans lose the Senate? Because of the president’s refusal to accept defeat.
And because those around him would not tell the emperor he has no clothes.
Instead, they repeated that he’d been victimized, notwithstanding the illogic that the Republican Party had a good election, so only the top of the ticket was subject to this chicanery.
And if you tell your supporters time and again that they’ve been victimized in a fraudulent system, then you can’t be surprised when they decide to no longer participate in that fraudulent system.
That’s why I knew early last night it was over for the GOP, and I was not surprised.
At 8:23 p.m., David Wasserman of Cook Political Report tweeted:
Bottom line so far: I think Republicans have a turnout problem.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) January 6, 2021
Of course, they did.
The mixed messaging was too much to comprehend.
Using the perfect blend of analysis and humor, Michael Smerconish delivers engaging, thought-provoking, and balanced dialogue on today’s political arena and the long-term implications of the polarization in politics. In addition to his acclaimed work as nationally syndicated Sirius XM Radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, and New York Times best-selling author, Michael Smerconish hosts CNN’s Smerconish, which airs live on Saturday at 9:00 am ET.