By Don Mohler
I like to keep my word. It is one of the things that I pride myself on, and it is one of the traits that I value in friends and family. That is why I regret that I am about to renege on a promise that I made to all of my “Front Porch” visitors months ago. Shortly after January 20, I promised to never again mention the Celebrity- Apprentice President in this blog again. We had seen his act. It had grown old. It made us weary. He turned family against family and friend against friend. He unleashed our basest instincts. And like more than 80 million Americans, I’d had enough. Grab your Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Diet Coke, and those super-sized french fries and slink away to Mar-a-Lago. As Gerald Ford once said, “Our long national nightmare is over.” At least that’s what I thought. And for a few days following the terrorist attack on our Capitol on January 6, it looked as if I was right.
Boy was I wrong!
You remember those days when it appeared that truth was once again going to be a cornerstone of the American dream. Even Kevin McCarthy spoke up. A glimpse of his spine was actually visible on the x-ray machine. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate attention by President Trump to accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.”
Senator Lindsey Graham went even further when taking to the floor of the senate on the
evening of January 6: “The final thing, Joe Biden. I’ve traveled the world with Joe Biden. I hoped he lost. I prayed he would lose. He won. He’s the legitimate President of the United States. I cannot convince people, certain groups, by my words, but I will tell you by my actions that maybe I above all others need to say this. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the President and Vice President of the United States on January 20th.” It had been a difficult four years, but even though we had serious policy disagreements, we were moving on.
Not so fast.
You see, a funny thing happened on the way to Wednesday, May 12 when House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from her leadership position because she would not parrot the “Big Lie.” She had the gall to echo what Graham had said months before. Her 90 percent voting record of standing with Donald Trump (the no-mention promise is now up in flames) compared to Elise Stefanik’s 70 percent level of support was no longer relevant. One of the most conservative members of Congress and daughter of an iconic and revered Republican leader would not say that the election was stolen. She disagreed with every single one of Joe Biden’s legislative initiatives, but she did think he was rightfully elected. That was her original sin and simply a bridge too far for Tucker Carlson’s Republican Party.
So where did this train go off the tracks? I am about to write something that you will rarely, if ever, hear me utter on the “Front Porch”: Lindsey Graham is right. And he is right because he can count. There are those who proffer that the current crash and burn strategy of the Grand Old Party is a recipe for long-term electoral disaster. They may indeed be right. It will take a few election cycles to figure that out. But in the short term, Graham is correct when he says, “Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no. I’ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she’s made a determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump. I’ve determined that we can’t grow without him.”
And as much as it pains me, and many of you, as a pure political calculation, he is absolutely correct. The math is clear.
So with all due apologies to my first grade teacher, Sister John Brebuff, let me take a crack at what McCarthy and Graham have figured out. And it has nothing to do with what is best for the soul of a nation. In today’s tribal political nation that is just not possible. The Celebrity Apprentice President received more than 74 million votes in November. In the most recent poll by CNN, 70% of Republican voters still believe the election was stolen and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president. We know why they believe that, but that doesn’t matter. They believe it with every fiber of their being. So the answer to the Double Jeopardy question as to how many Americans believe that the election was stolen is a staggering 52 million people. (Sister John, I hope you are smiling. You see I was paying attention even when you smacked me with a ruler and stuck me in the cloak room to shut me up.)
So Lindsey gets it. McCarthy gets it. McConnell gets it. For better or worse, this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party. If they were to repudiate the 52 million, what would that get them? Sure, they’d get historical points from Jon Meacham and others. They’d be referenced as a modern day Mr. Smith goes to Washington in editorial after editorial. But at the end of the day, they’d lose. You see as I’ve written ad nauseam, the Celebrity Apprentice is the symptom. He’s not the cause. The only way out of this house of horrors is for Republicans to suffer serious losses at the ballot box, assuming there are any ballot boxes left. You see, that while current Republican leadership may not have any soul, they can count. And only when the chickens come home to roost will they find their way home again.
Congresswoman Cheney summed it up perfectly, “This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans….. We must love America so much that we will never yield in her defense. That is our duty.” Do we truly love America? We shall see. Whose side are you on?
Don Mohler is the former Baltimore County Executive and President and CEO of Mohler Communication Strategies. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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