Trump won't let the GOP win even when they're handed a gift-wrapped victory
The border-for-Ukraine deal is a far-right wish list of ugly anti-immigration policy. The GOP is torpedoing it, bowing to Trump and handing Democrats more ammunition.
Donald Trump has led the GOP to electoral defeat after electoral defeat.
And it looks like he’s doing it again.
Trump demanded that no border security bill be passed, even though the GOP held Ukraine aid hostage for months—a grotesque action in and of itself—until extreme anti-immigration policies were added to that bill. They got much of their wish list—the best deal they’ll ever get. Even the conservative U.S. Border Patrol union is backing it.
But the GOP is saying no—with many Senate Republicans joining the House leadership in calling the bipartisan deal dead on arrival—all because of the fear of Dear Leader.
Ironically, this time their chaos saves us all from a terrible bill that too many Democrats and the White House might feel pressured to go along with in order to get aid to Ukraine, a bill that progressives and immigration groups have slammed.
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And, almost hilariously, it also hands President Biden and Democrats their own win to use in the 2024 elections, as they’re now able to say the GOP doesn’t actually care about the border—which they’ve called an emergency, using the racist rallying cry of an “invasion”—as much as they care about fealty to Trump.
You could be forgiven if you thought the Democrats were playing three-dimensional chess here. But no, this is all about the GOP being unable to even get its ass to the chess board.
Republicans will try to spin this but it won’t work. It’s a simple talking point for Democrats in House and Senate races and for Biden going up against Trump.
In a completely bonkers attempt to defend their actions, for example, Republicans are now ludicrously claiming Biden could shut down the border without legislation but refuses to do so. That is not only false—as even Trump didn’t do that because he couldn’t, and the courts would stop Biden or any president from taking such action—but the entire reason the GOP wanted this bill passed was to give the president the power to shut down the border and then force him to use it.
The GOP has turned more ferociously to immigration as the party has become more desperate with the elections approaching, something we’ve seen them do in the past, both in the states and in Congress. I wrote last week about how the focus on stripping LGBTQ rights, in addition to the ramping up of immigration, shows they are looking at warning signs for November.
The economy is no longer a talking point for them, as the Biden boom comes into view. Trump came out of Iowa and New Hampshire looking pathetically weak, with nearly half of Republicans voting for someone else and with Nikki Haley still in the race. She raised over $16 million in January alone and continues to point to Trump's failures and his mental decline—and now to Trump scuttling this bill. It’s surely rattling Trump, especially when she showed up on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, as he was mocked by the show as feeble and out of touch.
The threat to democracy is front and center in the election, still resonating strongly with Americans, even as the GOP had ridiculously hoped Americans would just forget about January 6th, the insurrection and the violence that Trump and his Republican enablers incited—and what they’re capable of doing again. Abortion rights are powering Democrats in election wins, flipping Republican seats in special elections since the end of Roe, as Trump continues to brag that he’s responsible for getting Roe overturned.
And despite their theatrics and use of much of their time and taxpayer dollars, there’s no evidence to impeach President Biden, and several top Republicans have now told CNN it’s just not happening, since, with a one-seat majority now, after the loss of Kevin McCarthy, George Santos, and others, the GOP just doesn’t have the votes.
That is something that will further enrage the MAGA extremists in Congress and foment more division and anger. At the same time, the RNC and its chair, Ronna McDaniel, are being targeted—including by Trump himself, who this weekend called for “changes” at the RNC—as the RNC’s latest filing shows it is going flat broke, further jeopardizing the elections.
So, demonizing immigrants and LGBTQ people is all the GOP thinks it has. But as I’ve noted, while those issues make their rabid base more rabid, they don’t work in a general election, as the extremism only fires up Democrats and independents more, bringing them out to vote.
The only way, in fact, that immigration could be a winner for the GOP is if Republicans got a bill passed—with a Democratic president in office and a Democratic-controlled Senate in place—that included much of their own agenda on immigration.
And yet, they’re turning that way, and allowing Democrats to use it against them in the very same election.
This is a Republican Congress that has accomplished nothing, as Republicans have even admitted in angry outbursts. Texas MAGA Congressman Chip Roy railed on the floor in November that the GOP hadn’t gotten “one meaningful thing” done and repeated himself weeks later. Arizona’s Andy Biggs, one of the organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally, said last month in an interview, “We have nothing. In my opinion, we have nothing to go out there and campaign on. It’s embarrassing.”
Embarrassment is an understatement. This is feeble, pathetic, masochistic, and just plain bizarro. But also, it’s a cult.
Roy and Biggs don’t seem to get that it’s all because of Trump. Instead, with their tiny majority and not having the Senate or the White House, they blamed people like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for actually working with Democrats to accomplish something, like keeping the government open and getting a few notable, if small, cuts out of it. And then the extremist mob removed McCarthy in a fit of rage, replacing him (only after two failed attempts) with the Christian nationalist, Mike Johnson, whom they’re now threatening as well.
Yet, even McCarthy, the target of these MAGA-crazed lunatics, himself doesn’t blame Trump and is begging Trump to hire him in a hoped-for second Trump administration.
Again, it’s a cult!
And all of it tells some important things. First, it further underscores how dangerous a second Trump administration would be, with Republicans blindly following Trump even more than the first time—if you could even imagine that—and his hardcore acolytes inside any Trump administration working to cement a dictatorship.
It also again shows us that even those in the GOP who might oppose Trump are afraid of retaliation and are not about to do anything to stop him. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted this bill passed, as did Oklahoma Senator James Langford, a right-wing Republican who Trump endorsed (even though Trump lied and claimed he didn’t endorse him while attacking and threatening the senator on a radio program yesterday), who led the negotiations on the bill for the GOP.
Yet, they have no power, and they will crumble, as Trump is threatening revenge. As the Washington Post reported today, “Donald Trump has promised a presidency of ‘retribution' if he wins another term in office. Many Republicans fear they might face the brunt of it.”
But all of this also further shows us just how weak and fragile Trump’s candidacy—and the entire GOP’s standing—truly is. If Trump were a strong, confident candidate, he and the GOP wouldn’t even be thinking of killing this bill, which would be a crowning achievement that Republican House and Senate candidates would campaign on, helping them as they try to keep the House and win back the Senate.
Any possible downside of giving President Biden a “win” would be far outweighed—and they could say they got Biden to pass a bill with their wish list, so it’s their win, not his. But Trump is instead admitting here that he’s got nothing to run on and that the upside isn’t worth it. In his mind, there must be chaos at the border in order to win.
And, more nefariously, he’s thinking that if immigration is pulled off the table, he won’t—as a candidate, and even as president, if he wins—be able to more forcefully push his plans for rounding up immigrants in sweeping raids, and putting them in camps while they await mass deportation. That is something Trump and, even more so, aides like Stephen Miller are salivating over.
So rather than take a huge win—and the only win they would have—the GOP is once again following Trump’s self-serving (and often losing) political instincts, not learning from the past. That gives us more evidence that 2024 will go down like 2023, 2022, 2020, and 2018 for the GOP. We just have to stay focused, fight all their dirty tricks, point it all out, and help them destroy themselves.