Who wears the pants?
It’s a question usually associated with husband and wife or family dynamics. I can’t say for sure, but in the old days, if a man were asked the identity of the pants wearer in his household, it was likely a thinly veiled insult directed at his masculinity. After all, theoretically speaking, there should only be one spouse who wore pants, though these days, thanks to our fast-moving “woke” politically correct cultural transition, the gender of the garment bearer is in serious limbo.
Our vice president, for example, could very well wear pants or a skirt when she’s kickin’ it on the couch in her own living quarters. Perhaps our president too! Dr. Jill probably has to hide her outfits to keep her intellectually challenged hubby from putting them on.
A better inquiry in our times might be something like, “Who wears the stretchy Yoga pants?”
But in politics there’s only room for one head honcho pants-donner in each party. If power is shared among several, it becomes a struggle to determine who’s truly in charge. Such is the case for the Republican Party today. The newly exonerated former president, Donald J. Trump, appears to be emerging from his self-imposed silent shell after he left office a month ago tomorrow.
And what he’s saying isn’t kind and gentle towards the GOP’s senate leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. Who wears the pants in 2021? You decide. Rob Crilly reported at The Washington Examiner:
“Former President Donald Trump threatened an all-out civil war inside the Republican Party as he blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for election defeats and said he would back primary candidates to oust his allies.
“’Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,’ Trump said in a statement issued by his Save America PAC on Tuesday evening. ‘He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First,’ he added…
“’McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from majority leader to minority leader, and it will only get worse,’ Trump said.”
Sour grapes? Take it with a grain of salt? The lashing out of a sad and desperate defeated man? Or maybe there’s a whole truckload of truth in what Trump said about the 79-year-old bespectacled lifetime politician (note: McConnell turns 79 tomorrow. Happy birthday?!)
If you’re in search of clues as to which man genuinely occupies the righteous ground here, none other than ultra-liberal looney California Democrat Congressman Ted Lieu came to McConnell’s defense against Trump’s broadside. Lieu said, “President Biden is working very hard on behalf of the American people. What is the former President doing? Calling the Senate GOP Leader names because McConnell rightfully concluded Trump provoked the deadly attack on our nation's Capitol.”
Hmpf. Having Lieu go to bat for a Republican is like having someone say, “Your enemy said you’re not fit to sleep with pigs, but I stood up for you. I said you were.”
On a deeper level, the exchange between Trump and McConnell follows a typical pattern for Trump. Mitch’s post-impeachment-vote statement last Saturday was highly inflammatory and suggested the former president was responsible for the melee on January 6, and then further argued that Trump might even face legal repercussions for his civil culpability. In essence, it said, “I voted to acquit because I hid behind the Constitution, but you’re really a scofflaw and deserve to be taken away in chains.” At least Mitt Romney had the gall to say it plainly.
Despite appearances, McConnell’s no idiot, so he must’ve figured Trump would hit back at some point.
Trump’s response took a few days, but it was direct and to-the-point. McConnell’s never been known as a jolly glass-half-full kind of guy and it’s no surprise that the New Yorker chose to focus on Mitch’s boring, gloomy persona in addition to his lack of political bona fides. Many observers might retort that McConnell’s presided over the GOP senate caucus for a party record number of years, but does that really mean he’s a smart political player?
No chance. John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist did a treatment on McConnell’s history with choosing primary candidates, and it ain’t good. McConnell may have worn the proverbial pants, but he repeatedly stained them and they’re left careworn and threadbare after so much misuse.
On a more basic level, Trump’s statement proves (before there was only speculation) that he intends to stay involved in Republican politics. Everyone knew this would be the case, though President Trump wouldn’t talk about it when he was still in the White House and Citizen Trump hasn’t said much since he temporarily relocated to south Florida on Jan. 20.
The fact Trump chose to single out McConnell, a high-profile target for his first real jab in weeks, the de facto new leader of elected party members, is significant. Trump and McConnell had an on-again/off-again type relationship when they were forced to share the spotlight for four years. Whereas former Speaker Paul Ryan made no secret of his disdain for the 2016 election winner, “Cocaine Mitch” mostly kept his feelings under wraps, side-stepping Trump’s more obvious get-something-done social media barbs.
Trump also avoided pushing McConnell too hard, knowing the success of his judicial and administration appointments relied to a great extent on goodwill from the senate leader. Mitch excelled when it got down to confirming most of Trump’s nominees, though it always seemed half-hearted and like something he was forced to do. If a six-year-old has to eat his vegetables before earning his pudding, then Mitch needed to look like he was serious about helping his president or everything would fall apart.
If it’s true that both Trump and McConnell are on a collision course to choose the next round of Republican senate candidates, one can’t help but think the advantage lies with the former commander in chief. Trump’s approval rating with the party faithful remains strong and once he develops his megaphone, there’s no telling how loud and attention-grabbing it will be.
Mitch McConnell’s never proven to be anything other than the establishment’s favorite water carrier, a man who’s advanced through the ranks because he didn’t do anything to antagonize the powers-that-be and was left as the last compromise placeholder (kind of like Biden, isn’t he?). Mitch isn’t exactly a frontline pants wearer in courage and fortitude. Trump understands it.
incitement of insurrection