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Trump received the perfect birthday present: the complete capitulation of the Republican Party

Trump received the perfect birthday present: the complete capitulation of the Republican Party
Trump received the perfect birthday present: the complete capitulation of the Republican Party

 


CNN-

Donald Trump received his 78th birthday gift a day early, a handshake from his longtime bitter critic, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, summing up the Republican Party's total submission to its presumptive presidential nominee.

The 45th president, twice impeached and newly convicted felon, was back at the Capitol on Thursday for the first time since his supporters beat police officers and forced their way through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A rendition of Happy Birthday by House Republicans contrasted with cries more than three years ago to hang Mike Pence from Trump's mob as they followed through on his call to fight like hell after weeks of promoting false claims about election fraud. Keen to please their champion and create an optimistic omen for November, House members honored the ex-president with a game bat and ball they won after beating Democrats in the game annual congressional baseball game on Wednesday. There was a clear impression of subordinates paying homage to a strong leader.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a former opponent in the 2016 primary now seen as a potential GOP vice presidential candidate, said it was a matter of bringing the team together after senators Republicans celebrated Trump just two weeks after he became the first ex-president to be convicted of a crime. Another foe of the ex-president in 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who endured insults hurled by Trump against his father and wife, stood to applaud his winner.

But the most striking image of the day was a handshake between McConnell and the ex-president captured in a photo by The New York Times' Doug Mills that encapsulates an era. The veteran Kentucky senator has never hidden his disdain for Trump, even though he always sought to preserve his own power and took no steps to convict him in Senate trials after his two impeachments. The dislike has been mutual, with the former president calling McConnell an old crow at rallies and making racist comments toward McConnell's wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

In January 2021, McConnell said: “The mob has been fed lies. They were provoked by the president. He said Trump was morally and practically responsible for the assault on his beloved Capitol.

On Thursday, after meeting with Trump for the first time since that day of infamy, he praised their entirely positive meeting, during which the former president shook McConnell's hands in both of his. It would strain credulity that McConnell has abandoned his private contempt for the ex-president. But he told journalists who questioned him about their meeting: I can't find anything that can tell you that is negative.

The exchange between McConnell and Trump was a fitting emblem for a day that Trump choreographed to show rapprochement within his party despite thousands of votes cast in the GOP primary for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during months after she suspended her campaign.

There is tremendous unity within the Republican Party, the former president said. We want to see borders. We want to see a strong army. We want money not to be wasted everywhere in the world.

Trump’s assertion of omnipotence over his party is an example of the projection of power he loves, which often requires the subordination of supplicants. And it also showed what Republicans who want their own power are willing to do to keep it. The spectacle of adulation at the Capitol also served as another reminder that Trump will pay no price in his party for trying to destroy democracy in order to stay in power. And it was probably a taste of the deference to Trump's autocratic instincts and vengeful zeal that America can expect from Washington Republicans if he wins back the White House, even from those in a branch of government meant to constrain presidents.

Another possible Trump vice presidential pick, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, was asked how some top Republicans who condemned Trump after Jan. 6 could come together and applaud him now.

No truly credible Republican in the party holds a grudge against him yet, said Vance, who had not yet been elected at the time, adding that some of the Trump critics in the room were supportive. I think it's a good thing and the Republican Party is in a good place.

Vance is not wrong. Nearly every major Republican who stood up to Trump in 2021 is either gone or about to leave the country. Utah Senator Mitt Romney is retiring. Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was forced out of House leadership, and then Congress, for telling the truth about her election lies. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan harshly criticized Trump this week for breaking his oath to uphold the Constitution. But his comments on Fox News came in the midst of a comfortable retirement, all his ambitions long gone.

The lawmakers who stood with Trump on Thursday didn't necessarily do so because they liked him. His immense popularity within the Republican Party means they know they can kiss their political future goodbye if they choose not to. This is even the case when Trump's behavior insults the normal codes of conduct expected of a presidential candidate.

Trump's return to Washington took place the day before he turned 78, the age at which President Joe Biden, whom his predecessor says is too old to serve, took office after beating him in the 2020 election. Their revenge in 2024 is neck and neck, according to polls, with each seeking to make the contest a referendum on the other's unique mandate. Biden's campaign was quick to try to exploit Trump's return visit to a city he left scarred and traumatized by the Capitol riot, releasing a new campaign video showing scenes from the 'assault.

There's nothing more sacred than our democracy, but Donald Trump is ready to burn it all down, a narrator said in the ad airing in battleground states.

Biden, 81, was thousands of miles from Washington when Trump arrived to attend the G7 summit in Italy. This is the second foreign trip in two weeks that he uses as an allegory for an American presidential season that he tries to present as a fight to save American democracy. Unveiling a series of new plans aimed at strengthening Ukraine diplomatically, militarily and economically, the president recalled that the United States and its allies had been asked repeatedly whether they would stand firm for a country that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to wipe it off the map.

We will repeat, yes, again and again, we will stand with Ukraine, Biden said, just as he stood with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The series of initiatives unveiled at the summit aimed at institutionalizing Western support for Ukraine are a clear effort to guard against the possibility that Trump could return to power on January 20, 2025. The ex-president has often come close of Putin when he was in power and declared he would end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours, a feat that could only be achieved by locking in Russia's territorial gains after its brutal invasion

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton warned Thursday that Biden cannot guarantee that the 10-year deal that covers military training, intelligence cooperation and other areas he signed Thursday with Zelensky would last.

I think, however, that it is delusional for anyone to think that Trump would be bound by this. If Trump is inaugurated on January 20 of next year at noon, around noon, he could have dissolved this agreement in its entirety, Bolton told Bianna Golodryga on CNN International.

If Trump is elected and leaves Ukraine, he will complete the transformation of a Republican Party that once prided itself on defending democracy around the world and which, under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan, won the Cold War.

You can't tie down a future president who doesn't want to be, Bolton said.

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