As the red tide swept through the country last November, bedraggled Republicans took no time from the hard-fought war to congratulate themselves or the newly minted president, Donald J. Trump. Instead, many gravitated to their podiums to proclaim zero allegiance to the man whose coattails were used to ride into their previously tenuous positions.
But it seems the flag of surrender flies in defeat on the Hill, and no one is happier about it than Steve Bannon.
Bannon, a media mogul, and lifelong conservative, of course, is the general behind the change in troops. A man of his word, he declared war on the left.
He then went on to orchestrate the annihilation of Hillary Clinton in 2016, carve out a Trump administration, and map out the strategy for shaking loose the “never-Trumpers” still clinging to their “establishment” beliefs and enriched lifestyle as deposed despots grabbing at the silver on their way out of the palace.
Welcome to the Steve Bannon revolution.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) used his time on the floor last week to announce that he would not seek reelection. Denigrating President Trump, in his eloquent oratory, “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country, the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons.” Democrats lauded his character, and Republicans took to the streets in Arizona to party.
Most see his speech as a line in the sand; one he will cross if he intends to challenge Trump in 2020. But insiders believe Flake’s reelection chances were slim to none, and it was a controlled bail. On PBS Newshour, host Judy Woodruff asked New York Times columnist David Brooks, about Flake’s performance:
“WOODRUFF: That was Jeff Flake on the Senate floor. David, what change — what effect has that speech had?
DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it sounded like a call to arms at the moment, but it’s pretty clear it was Appomattox in reality. What Flake made clear is that you can’t survive a Republican primary if you don’t sound like Donald Trump. And whether with Flake leaving, Corker leaving, McCain sort of in the end — toward the end of his career, the Republicans who want to have a political viability have to be Trumpian.”
For those who are American history challenged, Appomattox was the last battle of the Civil War before General Lee surrendered to General Grant.
Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Flake seeing the light that leaves the most vocal and ever stubborn grandson of the Admiral John “Jack” McCain, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to exit the field. And with the most unfortunate of circumstances, McCain’s time is imminent and be warned; he won’t go quietly into the night. But it won’t matter.
Frog Gigging in the Swamp
There is a distinct change in tenor and tone from other former presidential primary candidates of late. Perhaps their polling numbers are low, as constituents want to see results from their elected Congress, and there is continuing gridlock. And on any and every social media thread, the message is the same; do something already, or we’ll replace you.
It appears the will of the people is enough of a threat to former Trump detractors:
“When Ted Cruz was asked the other day about the criticism of Trump by his Senate colleagues Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, the Texan unloaded. “It’s like you’re back in junior high. . . . We’ve got a job to do, dammit, and so all of this nonsense, I got nothing to say on it. Everyone shut up and do your job is my view.”
This from the guy who signed the pledge to support any Republican nominee yet refused to endorse Trump. Hey, it’s progress albeit a bit angrily stated.
And then we have Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) articulate answer to a reporter’s question in this brief interview:
“A reporter for Politico recently asked John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, for his views on a potential bipartisan compromise extending cost-sharing payments under Obamacare. “I’m with the president,” Cornyn told Seung Min Kim. When she asked him where, exactly, Trump is on the plan, Cornyn threw his hands in the air.”
So, baby steps; but unequivocally on the side of Trump.
An orchestrated American theater, Steve Bannon’s silent majority continues to advance. Even old dogs of war will learn new tricks. The white banners are snapping in the brisk wind of change on the Hill and across the United States, and with barely a whimper, the surrender by Republicans to the Trumpian way is almost complete; barring the Admiral’s grandson.