Could Trump’s Disastrous Syria Decision Be the Final Straw for Senate Republicans?

For months I’ve been maintaining that regardless of what the Democratically-controlled House did regarding impeachment, Trump was safe. There was no way in hell Senate Republicans would ever vote to convict him, at least not the 20 required for removal. Well don’t look now, but it looks as though Trump may have finally given them the permission slip they’ve been looking for to boot his corrupt ass from the White House, and lo and behold, it has nothing to do with his phone call to the Ukrainian president.

In what has to be considered THE textbook example of looking a gift horse in the mouth, Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Northern Syria has not only consigned the Kurds to an almost certain extermination at the hands of Turkish forces, it will lead to the reconstitution of ISIS, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. Furthermore, it will empower countries like Iran and Russia to exert more control over the region. From a foreign policy perspective, Trump’s impulsive decision is a colossal blunder that will have profound repercussions for decades to come. From this moment forward, America’s word on the global stage is worthless. If you thought Bush’s decision to topple Saddam Hussain over WMDs that never existed was a clusterfuck, what Trump has done will make that look like a bad hair day.

Even Lindsey Graham, who’s so far up Trump’s ass, he has to ask Sean Hannity for an easement, wasted no time blasting his lord and master on Twitter. “I hope I’m making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is, in my view.” How upset is Graham? He’s actually working with Nancy Pelosi to craft bipartisan legislation to reverse Trump’s decision, that’s how upset. Somewhere a cat and dog are shacking up together.

Look, I’m not saying that this will be the final straw that pushes Republicans over the edge. At this point, I’m not sure there is a final straw. What we’re witnessing with Trump resembles more a cult than a political movement. And like all cults, the suspension of realty is the key ingredient.

But here’s the thing: the events of the last few days might possibly get the Republicans thinking. What if Trump calls up Vladimir Putin and green lights his takeover of all of Ukraine, just like he green lighted Erdogan’s incursion into Syria? Even more frightening, what if tomorrow he decides he’s going to pull out of NATO? If you’re thinking even Trump wouldn’t be that stupid, you obviously haven’t been paying attention. I wouldn’t put it past him, would you?

And you gotta know that thought, as frightening as it is, has occurred to Mitch McConnell and a majority of Senate Republicans, who, despite all the public displays of affection and loyalty, are not exactly enamored of this president. All of them to a man and woman know full well that he’s nuts and that he’s capable of anything.

The problem with impulsive people is that they’re, well, impulsive. They act before they think, which is made even more complicated by the fact that Trump can’t think. Seriously, how do you deal with someone who believes he’s the smartest person in the room? And now that all of the “adults” have fled this White House, the guard rails that used to keep him from acting on his worst instincts are no longer in place. The sad truth is that, while it’s embarrassing to admit, he IS the commander in chief. Constitutionally, that gives him a lot of power. He can start Work War III if he wants and, apart from the poor soul who holds the football, there’s no one or nothing that can stop him.

The fate of humanity rests in the hands of a 73 year old man with all the emotional maturity of a toddler who won’t eat his veggies. If ever there was a reason to remove him from office, this is it. Don’t get me wrong: his phone call to Zelensky was unacceptable and most definitely impeachable by every measurable standard. But if I’m Chuck Schumer and Pelosi, I take McConnell into a back room and make him an offer he can’t refuse. Wait until January when the deadline for primary challenges is over and then come up with at least 20 brave Republicans to take one for the team. In exchange, Pelosi guarantees that any and all investigations into Mike Pence and the rest of Trump’s cabinet go bye-bye. As Speaker, she can make that happen.

Why would McConnell agree to that offer? Well, for one thing, as I’m sure it’s dawned on him, most of the heavy lifting is being done by Senate Republicans. In fact, apart from keeping the lights on and passing that horrific tax bill at the close of 2017, about the only thing that’s getting done in the upper chamber is the appointment of a shitload of conservative judges to the bench. McConnell doesn’t need Trump for that; Pence will do just nicely, and without the specter of Armageddon hanging over everyone’s head. If anything, Pence more closely resembles ideologically where the party was prior to the arrival of Trump. When you get right down to it, the base has far more in common with the likes of a Ted Cruz or a Rick Santorum than it does with a John Kasich or Mitt Romney.

For another thing, McConnell is worried about 2020. Trump’s erratic behavior isn’t just threatening his tenure as Majority Leader, it could cost the party the White House. And while Pence isn’t exactly a slam dunk next fall, up against the right candidate, there’s always the possibility he can avoid the same fate that befell Gerald Ford in 1976.

Whatever else you may think of him – and trust me, I’ve thought of ’em all – McConnell is arguably the shrewdest leader Republicans have had in over a generation. He is to the GOP what Pelosi is to the Democrats. He is feared and respected. If he truly believes that his party’s interests are best served by dumping Trump, he won’t hesitate to do it.

Yes, I know it’s a reach, and no, I wouldn’t go putting any money on it, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if sometime this winter Donald Trump is a private citizen. It would take a herculean effort on the part of a party who, over the last three years, has shown about as much spine as a jelly fish. Still, stranger things have happened.

Remember, two months before Nixon resigned, the vast majority of Republicans were not in favor of impeachment. Then the tapes came out and, like rats on a sinking ship, one by one they began to abandon him.

Funny thing about rats: they’re predictable.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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