Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Attacking a Hero, and Getting Away with It

While Trump’s nonstop effort to mar the late senator’s memory should surprise no one, the response of McCain’s Republican Senate colleagues to Trump’s posthumous onslaught is both telling and disgraceful. The barons of the Senate live in fear of the president and his base. When Trump told Iowans in early 2016 that he could stand on New York’s Fifth Avenue “and shoot somebody” and still not lose voters, he knew of what he spoke.
Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s “best friend” and a naval reserve officer, is the most obvious case in point. Graham would only offer up tweeted mush in defense of his one-time “Amigo”: “As to @SenJohnMcCain and his devotion to his country: He stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body.” We are comforted.
...
And yet politically, who can blame Graham for going full weasel?
The polls tell the story, namely that embrace of Trump is a surefire way to defuse a prospective GOP primary. To illustrate, in 2017 Graham had one of the highest disapproval ratings in his home state of any senator, 40%. By January 2019, Graham’s disapproval numbers had dropped to 32%.
Playing Trump’s hatchet man at the Kavanaugh confirmation clearly paid off for Graham, and with McCain lying soundly in the grave, their friendship could lie there too. Said differently, if Graham could stand idly by as Trump trashed McCain, it was a green light for others to do the same.
Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim at WP:
By attacking McCain, Trump allies said Thursday, the president is stoking his supporters’ rawest emotions and suspicions about the GOP’s political elite.
“You’re talking about a group of people who have felt powerless and voiceless for many years until President Trump came along, and they’re going to be loyal to him. It’s part of the fabric of their life,” said Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who has run Trump-style insurgent campaigns in his state. “To those people, McCain was the embodiment of a lifetime career politician.”
Mike Shields, a Republican consultant who has worked with Trump’s political team, said Trump is tapping into how “a significant number of voters in this country have seen politicians that lie to them, make promises, are disingenuous, who are basically not themselves. They aren’t real. When the president does things like this, he is real. There’s a currency for that.”
And there is an audience. On social media, Fox News and other conservative-leaning platforms, Trump’s searing critiques of the late senator are acceptable to many rank-and-rile Republicans.