On Wednesday, President Trump tore into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Twitter. McConnell had snarkily suggested that Trump’s expectations were simply too high upon entering office; the president didn’t know how sausage was made. “Part of the reason I think that the story line is that we haven’t done much is because, in part, the president and others have set these early time lines about things need to be done by a certain point,” McConnell told a crowd in Florence, Kentucky. “Our president has of course not been in this line of work before, and I think had some excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
Trump responded with a blowtorch on Twitter:
This is an excellent question.
It’s also why Trump should have put the squeeze to McConnell and other moderate Republicans months ago, rather than sitting on the sidelines and letting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and McConnell take the lead, then chiming in at the last moment with vague slogans about “getting it done.” Trump could have demanded a true repeal; he didn’t. He could have demanded a replacement bill that fulfilled basic free market conditions; he didn’t. Yes, McConnell has failed to motivate the Republican caucus to do its work. But Trump hasn’t been particularly helpful.
In fact, Trump undercut his own resistance to McConnell’s naysaying on Tuesday by endorsing interim Alabama Senator Luther Strange rather than Roy Moore. Strange is a McConnell ally; Moore would have been a voice of resistance to the McConnell block. Instead, Trump stood with McConnell.
Meanwhile, Trump funder Robert Mercer put some $300,000 into a super PAC to defeat Jeff Flake in a Republican primary – which cuts against McConnell and establishment Republicans. So what’s the strategy here?
Trump is right that Republicans promised the moon. But now that he’s the president, it’s his job to come up with some tactics to help them accomplish the promises he made. And that means pressuring McConnell across the board, not just via a few fired-off tweets.