Populists in DC and around the country are up in arms over Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to releasing hours of J6 video to the public via Tucker Carlson.
Thus you hear in the wackier environs all kinds of harebrained theories as to his motivations. They mainly have to do with McConnell secretly being the Emperor Ming of Neptune and accordingly planning to subjugate the good simple people of America into slavery in the zinc mines of Halimede. This year, with that theory, you got a free CPAC ticket and an invitation to an after hours men’s only reception with Matt Schlapp.
Sadly, it’s not that. The actual reason is not hard to ken. Releasing of that video makes preposterous some of the wilder allegations against the J6 rioters and thus indirectly benefits Trump and his minions by making them seem less threatening and Trump less culpable. Can’t have that.
Now while I carry no brief for the former president or his fans, the J6 yahoos have been treated unfairly and unjustly. This is especially true compared to the Antifa and BLM terrorists who ran rampant over our cities in 2020 in a successful attempt to blackmail the weak-willed into voting for Joe Biden.
McConnell knows this and doesn’t care. He thinks that anything that aids Trump hurts the party. In the strategic sense he may be right. But it’s a play that will only further embitter him to the GOP populist base. That could be annoying if Trump wins the whole enchilada and McConnell returns as Majority Leader.
Another guy walking the Reagan Republican vs Trump Populist tightrope is Ron DeSantis. He needs the Trump types to not hate him if he beats their man in the primaries. He’s attempting that outcome by going sadly populist on Ukraine and by generally ignoring Trump jibes against him.
But he can’t keep that up forever. He’s got to hit back eventually to prove to about a third of the party that is anti-Trump that he is not just Trump lite or scared of getting in the ring with the former president. He’ll need that third, plus some Trump turncoats, to win the nomination.
However, the contrast with Trump, and not just on baggage, better be stark. If not he is in danger of splitting the populists with Trump and letting a Haley or Pence emerge as a serious contender. As Trump devotees would never sign-off on Pence, think Haley, maybe Pompeo, as the main Reagan Republican challenger to Trump if DeSantis falters.
It’s early and so much of this is busy work prognostication. But the populist beast Trump awakened in 2016 will be served raw meat in 2024 or else. The key will be to convince them to put electability over sentimental loyalty. If not, and they nominate Trump or they sit on their hands, there will be hell to pay for Republicans.