Republican Senators May Finally Have a Bargaining Chip With Trump

Will they convince him to tone it down on Twitter?

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President Donald J. Trump addresses remarks prior to presenting the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously to Richard “Rick” C. Rescorla on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in the East Room of the White House. Rescorla helped save the lives of nearly 2,700 people at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Lest we forget, or lest the recent unanimous vote by Congressional Republicans against impeachment make us forget, there are still Republicans, some elected and very high in party leadership, who still absolutely do not like Donald Trump.

As in, they really don’t like him.

Like any group tightly bound by a shared ideology and banded together for a common cause deemed greater than the sum of its parts- where loyalty and solidarity are vital for success- the people that get under Republican skin the most are not Democrats, but other Republicans.

Republicans love Democrats who buck the party line; they hate it with the fire of a thousand suns when other Republicans do it. Democrats are likewise in their tastes for Republicnas.

It isn’t Nancy Pelosi who really irks Donald Trump. On the contrary. Nancy Pelosi, as anyone can see, has a completely different framework for sensible public policy than does Donald Trump or indeed anyone else in the Republican Party. Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected Democrat, and Donald Trump, the highest-ranking elected Republican, are expected to routinely disagree, even bitterly, in a Democracy.

Donald Trump, like any Republican, expects to constantly be at odds with, be held in contempt and obstructed by, and otherwise draw the ire of Democrats. Pelosi is just doing her job.

No, the people Republicans hate most are the same people the Hells Angels hate the most, or who ISIS reserves its most brutal punishments for, or what drives violent gangs to retribution at any cost:

The turncoat.

The rat. The stooge. The one of your own who sold you out, broke ranks, turned traitor. The betrayer, the Judas. The RINO. (That’s “Republican In Name Only.)

This is because any group inherently understands that the defector is to any organization, criminal or otherwise, the most dangerous. The enemy, the political opposition, you can guard against; against the duplicitous friend there can be no defense.

The turncoat is so valuable to the other side because they have trusted-insider information. Information that would never be revealed to an outsider. In addition, a criticizing voice from within is often much more damaging than any amount of outside observation.

Since taking office, Trump has quarreled, clashed, and butted heads with every legacy and leadership Republican who has dared to question the Trump administration. At least, those who have dared to do so publicly.

Some old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool Regan Republicans like former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan couldn’t take it and bailed early on the Trump takeover of the Republican Party.

Even after three-years, the “Never Trump” resistance inside the Republican Party remains alive. Alive, though perhaps not as strong as it once was.

Besides the outspoken Sen. Mitt Romney, who has made no secret of his utter contempt for Donald Trump, there are elected Republicans in the Senate who would much rather serve under a mild-mannered President Mike Pence everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Donald Trump has made the life of a Republican U.S. Senator both easier and harder.

Easier because of the massive influx of cash the Trump Campaign, only partially aided by the Republican National Committee, has been raking in.

There are other compensations as well, and good ones.

The economy is robust. The U.S. continues to add jobs apace, with wage gains keeping pace. There have been historic economic and employment gains for the middle-class, the working-class, African-Americans, women, and Latinos.

“The rich have gotten richer!” Sen. Elizabeth Warren might argue. “The rich will always get richer,” retorts Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.

Carson has a point. And not even Elizabeth Warren can continue to pretend indefinitely that the Trump tax policy changes haven’t also resulted in a rising economic tide that has lifted all boats.

However, it must occasionally irk Republican Senators, like Mitt Romney, that in the midst of these historic economic gains, progress with China on more equitable trade, a renegotiation of NAFTA, and successful criminal justice reform, they, and their staff, have to instead field questions about what Trump said about John Legend’s wife Chrissy Tiegen on Twitter.

What do Republican Senators want from Donald Trump?

At a guess, they want him to continue to do everything he is currently doing, policy-wise, and stay off Twitter forever.

Most elected Republicans wouldn’t dream of saying the things Trump says on Twitter. They are from the old-school of meticulously planned press briefings; they read prepared remarks and speeches that have gone through many cycles of internal team review- plus an approval from legal.

Mitt Romney would host a fireside chat with America, a carefully orchestrated, meticulously planned ordeal memorable only for a complete lack of anything that might be offensive to anyone for any reason.

Republican Senators, and career Republicans on every level, know that the business of politics in a democracy like ours is difficult enough without anyone lobbing verbal molotov cocktails virtually every other day in virtual reality.

Trump is creating entirely too much pushback from Democrats and from the press, much of it completely unnecessary. The question probably isn’t “who has told Trump to tone it down?”.

The question in probably more like “who hasn’t?”.

“Everything would be so much easier if you…”

“You know you can hire a team to do your social media, right?…”

Now, on one hand, Democrats and the press howling night and day about what a lying, greedy, racist, sexist, xenophobe Donald Trump is, means a great deal less time devoted to calling Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney lying, greedy, racist, sexist, xenophobes.

On the other hand, Donald Trump has brought political trash talk to a level heretofore unbeknownst to American politics, which is saying something.

Thus far, no Republican Senator, nor any other establishment Republican for that matter, has been successful in dissuading Trump from his rude and boorish behavior on Twitter.

No Republican has yet had anything Trump wanted bad enough to give in on this particular point.

However, soon the U.S. Senate may vote on impeachment.

Donald Trump would very much like- very, very, much like- Republican Senators to vote in solidarity with their Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives; unanimously against impeachment.

But this is Washington, and as Donald Trump ought to know by now, nothing is free. If Trump wants the unified vote of Republican Senators to be in his favor, he may have to come to the negotiating table on the subject of his online personae.

And agree to tone it down on Twitter.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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