President Donald Trump’s pompous self-confidence hides a real rot within the Republican Party. In a new profile for The New Yorker, Jane Mayer reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has privately referred to Trump as “nuts” and complained that he acts like Alabama politician Roy Moore, the pompous former state Supreme Court justice who got removed from his position as state Chief Justice over refusing to remove a huge monument to the Ten Commandments and, eventually, launched a U.S. Senate campaign that provided the platform for women to bring forward their stories of past sexual abuse at Moore’s hands. Moore made it to the general election but lost the Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones.
The problem, of course, is that despite these observations, McConnell still supports the president’s policies.
‘Although the two men almost always support each other in public, several members of McConnell’s innermost circle told me that in private things are quite different. They say that behind Trump’s back McConnell has called the President ‘nuts,’ and made clear that he considers himself smarter than Trump, and that he ‘can’t stand him. (A spokesman for McConnell, who declined to be interviewed, denies this.) According to one such acquaintance, McConnell said that Trump resembles a politician he loathes: Roy Moore, the demagogic former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, whose 2017 campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat was upended by allegations that he’d preyed on teen-age girls. (Moore denies them.) ‘They’re so much alike,’ McConnell told the acquaintance.’
And again — despite these observations, McConnell has glibly accepted the Trump presidency and advanced its agenda at just about every turn. There has been little lasting tension between the Senate Majority Leader and the president.
In the same piece for The New Yorker, conservative Trump critic Bill Kristol noted:
‘Demagogues like Trump, if they can get elected, can’t really govern unless they have people like McConnell.’
McConnell is actually up for re-election this year, but it’s unclear if Democratic challenger Amy McGrath will be able to unseat him — although her campaign is certainly attracting a lot of attention. Recently, alongside South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison, Arizona’s Mark Kelly, and others, she was one of the top fundraising Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in the country.
The Cook Political Report currently calls McConnell’s race a “likely” Republican victory, but they name a full four other currently Republican-held seats as likely toss-ups. That list includes seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. Democrats need to add a full four additional seats onto their current total to nab control of the Senate. In the event of a McConnell-led Senate and a Democratic president, there’s little reason to believe that there’d be any kind of cooperation between the chamber and the White House — McConnell has long made his personal partisan allegiances clear.
His defenses for the president have included, most recently, his brazen self-serving during the Democrat-led impeachment proceedings against Trump. McConnell helped orchestrate a failure to hear from a single witness at the eventual Senate trial.