Trumpty Dumpty sat on his wall,
Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king’s horses & some Republicans,
Are hoping he puts it all back together again.


By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – As the Donald Trump presidential era came to its tormented conclusion with Saturday’s second impeachment trial acquittal, several fresh images were seared into my mind.

The first was picking up on a theme I wrote about three years ago, likening those around President Trump to the movie, “The Madness of King George.” An obviously insane monarch is going about his crazy business, with his staff gasping to keep up with all the nonsense in a frenzied and contorted manner.

The House impeachment managers had obtained internal Capitol video from the Jan. 6 insurrection, showing dozens of senators running. I’m not talking about running for reelection. They were running for their lives, running through Capitol hallways, running to stay ahead of King Donald’s frothing mob. Last Saturday, 43 of these running senators – including Indiana’s Todd Young and Mike Braun along with newly minted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – voted to acquit the president. It didn’t matter that the mob had sacked the Capitol, attacked its police protecters (killing one, while two more have committed suicide since), threatened to hang Vice President Mike Pence, searched for Speaker Pelosi, rummaged through their desks and binders, and generally desecrated what had been the hallowed citadel of democracy.

Sen. Young acknowledged he was “troubled and saddened.” The best Braun, who owes his 2018 election upset of Sen. Joe Donnelly to Trump, could summon was that it was “unconstitutional to remove a former president from office.” If Young and Braun were to go into the home/office alarm business, I would opt for AZT or Ring.

McConnell feuds with Trump

It was McConnell who ended up saying what Sen. Young was probably really thinking, on the Senate floor just minutes after he voted for acquittal: “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of that day. No question about it, the people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.” McConnell added that Trump’s actions were “a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty” and that he may not escape, being subject to the country’s criminal and civil laws. “He didn’t get away with anything, yet,” McConnell said.

McConnell had spent the prior week leading people to think he might vote to convict Trump. When he realized he was going to come up 10 votes short of driving a stake through King Donald’s heart, he pulled a James Comey, letting Trump off the hook just as the former FBI director did with “Crooked Hillary” in July 2016, but mauling his reputation while doing so.

By Tuesday, Trump became fully engaged, calling the senator  a “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,” adding, “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle — they’ve never had it so good —and they want to keep it that way! If Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

The second image has actually become a recurring nightmare: That a mob could, indeed, actually overwhelm the U.S. Capitol; just as on Sept. 11, 2001, we realized that terror pilots could destroy this citadel. Now there is a realization that we may be in for an era of political violence from hordes who lack issue logic, and that the house of the federal government may be vulnerable, lest it fence itself off with razor wire to keep the people at arms’ length.

New Yorker reporter-at-large Luke Mogelson notes that despite Trump’s ardent backing of Israel, many in the MAGA mob freely expressed virulent anti-Semitic views. His Jan. 25 article describes the mob as adorned in “RWDS” (Right Wing Death Squad) and “6MWE” (“Six Million Wasn’t Enough”) hats and patches and “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong” and “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirts. The unhinged support for their “emperor” Donald Trump was all the political theory they need.

Pence nightmare

I’ll bet that Mike Pence, who refused to leave the Capitol as Flight 93 was bearing down on it in 2001, would have nightmares about that day. Two decades later on 1/6, we have internal video footage of Pence, family and entourage escaping the mob that had been summoned, assembled and launched by President Trump just seconds ahead of the pitchforks. Now we’re all having bad dreams of his head being placed on a pike a la Ned Stark.

Amanda Carpenter of The Bulwark observed: “Throughout Trump’s impeachment, Pence remained mute. As someone who could provide both important facts – what did Trump know about the situation, when, and what was his reaction – and bear witness to Trump’s state of mind in the days and hours leading up to the attack, Pence was in a rare, possibly even unique, position. Over the course of the weeks following the election, Pence had been a perpetrator of Trump’s big election lie and at the final hour became a target of it. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote for impeachment and who came forward with her blockbuster testimony during the Senate trial, begged Pence to share what he knew. He refused.”

Carpenter adds, “Pence’s silence could easily be chalked up to all manner of causes: Submissiveness, cowardice, fear, or naked political calculation. Or maybe it’s something worse. Ask yourself: Why would Mike Pence bother lifting his voice in defense of his own life if no one else in his party cares to do so? If you think about it from this perspective, then Pence’s silence isn’t just complicity. It’s another marker of the nihilism that has taken over the Republican party, where nothing matters except for Trump and/or owning the libs.”

Which gets us to the political calculations that must be facing Sen. Young, who is up for reelection next year. There isn’t a primary opponent on the horizon, though Joe Donnelly appears to be retooling the Indiana Democratic Party by convincing Mike Schmuhl to take the chair as a prerequisite for a challenge.

File these thoughts in the “Running the next election like the last” folder: Among the broader electorate, the exiled Trump is toast. According to an ABC/Ipsos Poll, 57% say President Trump should have been convicted (the same percentage of the Senate’s vote to convict). The party breakdown: 90% of Democrats, 64% of independents and a mere 14% of Republicans back conviction. That’s enough to get Donald Trump renominated, and enough to lose a third straight election by tanking the popular vote.

A Quinnipiac Poll found 75% of Republicans would like Trump to play a “prominent role,” despite the fact that after winning his unexpected upset in 2016, he lost the House in 2018, the White House on Nov.3, and the Senate after Trump’s Georgia debacle on Jan. 5, the first time this has occurred since President Herbert Hoover presided over such a dismal trifecta.

The House was 241-194 Republican after the 2016 election, now it’s 235-199 Democratic; Republicans held a historic 33-16 advantage in governor’s seats after the 2016 election, now it’s 26-24. Republicans had a 32-14 advantage in state legislatures controlled after 2016, now it’s 30-19; Republicans had a total state governance lead of 24-7 in 2016, today it’s 22-14; Republicans led 57-42% in state legislative seats, today it’s 52-47%.

Quinnipiac Pollster Tim Malloy explained, “He may be down, but he is certainly not out of favor with the GOP. Twice impeached, vilified by Democrats in the trial, and virtually silenced by social media ... despite it all, Donald Trump keeps a solid foothold in the Republican Party.”

Republicans told us who they are

Charlie Sykes, writing for The Bulwark, observed: “Actually, the Republicans told us who they were. Let’s run the numbers from the last few weeks: 

The number of Republicans who backed the Texas lawsuit to overturn the presidential election: 126; 

The number of Republicans who voted against certifying the electoral votes of Pennsylvania: 138;

The number of Republicans who voted to protect conspiracy theorist/bigot Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee assignments: 199; 

The number of House Republicans who voted against impeachment: 197; a

Αnd then Saturday’s vote. Overall the pro-Trump GOP vote (in the House and Senate): 240-17. 

“This is Donald Trump’s party,” Sykes said, “but worse. Over the last five years, Republicans have shown willingness to accept – or least ignore – lies, racism, and xenophobia. But now it is a party that is also willing to acquiesce to sedition, violence, extremism, and anti-democratic authoritarianism.”

A Politico/Morning Consult Poll on Tuesday revealed that 59% of Republicans want Trump to play a major role between now and 2024. That’s up 18% from a similar poll on Jan. 7, three days after the insurrection. Morning Consult adds, “Another piece of evidence: While Trump’s overall favorability rating is an abysmal 34% in our latest poll, 81% of Republican respondents gave him positive marks. Trump was at 77% approval among Republicans on Jan. 7 and 74% on Jan. 25.”

In a 2024 matchup, Trump leads with 53% (the same percentage he won the 2016 Indiana primary), while Pence comes in at 12%, Donald Trump Jr. at 6%, and everyone else at 5%.

This is why Attorney General Todd Rokita tweeted out a Valentine’s Day meme: “You stole my heart like a 2020 election.” Twitter banned the posting, but Rokita laid out a 2024 gubernatorial race marker for the support of die-hard Trumpers.

Haley’s criticism

Nikki Haley forged headlines last week when she told Tim Alberta in his final Politico article: “When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement. Mike has been nothing but loyal to that man. He’s been nothing but a good friend of that man. I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”

Hoosier Republicans, other than U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, were rather mute with few publicly expressing similar angst over the veep’s well-being.

Haley added of Trump, “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated. I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him. I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving. He’s not going to run for federal office again. I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture. I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far. We need to acknowledge he let us down. He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Or there’s South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham who was planning to golf with Trump in Florida this week to plan the former president’s role in the GOP moving forward. Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” Tuesday, Graham said, “I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party. We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump.” 

Calling Trump a “hell of a president on all of the things that conservatives really believe in,” Graham acknowledged the Capitol siege of Jan. 6 while forgetting the Georgia Senate debacle of Jan. 5, saying, “I’m sorry what happened on January 6th. He’ll get his fair share of blame, but to my Republican colleagues in the Senate, let’s try to work together and realize that without President Trump, we’re never going to get back in the majority.”

Graham also declared daughter-in-law Lara Trump and her pending North Carolina Senate candidacy “the future of the Republican Party.”

The New York Times reported on how Michigan Republicans are’t ready to move on from Trump. The Michigan Republican Party is “more Trumpy today than it was before the election,” said Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party. The former president’s electoral coalition failed, he said, but its adherents are so vehement in their beliefs that the party cannot acknowledge or learn from its mistakes.

“That’s why Trumpism will continue long after Trump. People who weren’t around four years ago,” he said, “people we had never heard of, they now control the levers of the party. When you make a deal with the devil, the story usually ends with the devil collecting your soul. You don’t get it back and have a happy ending.”

It may take more election loses for the GOP to move on from Donald John Trump.