SAN DIEGO – Don’t cry for Mitch & Paul. The truth is they never served you…
These Republican swamp dwellers only serve their own interests, which they’ve hitched to the wagon of the Washington establishment. To join this club, members of both parties must take an oath never to put public service or doing the right thing ahead of more important things such as getting re-elected, taking care of the powerful, and maintaining the status quo.
Now that Donald Trump has forged alliances with Democrats on disaster clean-up, immigration and possibly even tax reform, it’s tough to muster sympathy for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
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You might think some compassion would be in order. The Republican congressional leaders look painfully weak and pathetic, like a couple of teenage boys home on Saturday night because their girlfriends took other dates to the prom.
But from the sound of the public discourse, not many Americans are bothered that McConnell and Ryan have been left out in the cold. In fact, in a rare example of bipartisan agreement, elements of both parties insist that they had it coming.
As you would expect, the folks on the left have no use for these GOP leaders, other than as election-year foils. After all, my liberal friends say, McConnell and Ryan knew well before ballots were cast that they were getting behind a flawed and divisive figure with a knack for doing and saying the wrong thing. They also knew that their party’s standard-bearer had a long history of supporting Democrats and espousing liberal views. But, once Trump became the nominee, they supported him anyway. Even after the release of the “Access Hollywood” videotape revealed Trump to be a truly despicable human being, and some Republicans called for party leaders to pull their support, McConnell and Ryan stuck by the GOP nominee.
So, as far as many Democrats are concerned, Republican leaders dug their own graves. McConnell and Ryan helped normalize Trump, and thus they empowered him. There may have been a time – in the beginning of his campaign – when the billionaire businessman needed their help and would have appreciated their support. But those days are gone. If there is one thing that Trump learned on the campaign trail, it’s that he could get as much mileage from working against the party establishment as he would from working with it.
Regarding all this civil warfare across the aisle, the Democrats couldn’t be happier. But, as is usually the case in politics, there is a catch: There are those on the left who would rather not see Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi get cozy with Trump as they work out back-room deals. Some seem to be worried that Trump will get the best of the Democratic leaders.
Those nervous liberals needn’t be concerned about that. The opposite is more likely to happen. Trump will be lucky to leave any negotiation without being fleeced by these lifelong politicians.
Meanwhile, what’s much more surprising is what is happening on the right and how Trump voters are reacting to all this political horse trading.
They’re not loyal to McConnell and Ryan in the least. If Trump wants to work with Democrats to address pressing issues, that’s fine by them. They trust him, and they certainly can’t say that about the GOP establishment.
They also seem extremely pragmatic in that they’re interested in solutions over ideology. They don’t seem to care who gets the credit, as long as problems get fixed and their concerns get addressed.
This makes sense. It fits the profile of the Trump voters. Having thrown their support behind a renegade and bomb-thrower who few people expected to win, they’re not big on party loyalty. As such, they’re the ultimate political free agents.
Suddenly, it’s McConnell and Ryan who find themselves without a constituency. And it all started when they held their noses and backed Trump in the first place, without getting anything in return or modifying his behavior in any way.
Why would these two leaders humiliate themselves like that? That’s easy. Because they wanted their party to win the White House at all costs.
Well, now that McConnell and Ryan are the odd men out, you have to wonder: Are they tired of winning yet?
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.