Last weekend I saw a boat flying an American flag alongside a “Trump 2024 – Save America Again” banner replicating the infamous “Trump 2020 – Make America Great Again” flag. “Infamous” because those were the “battle flags” carried by Trump supporters as they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Upon seeing my first Trump 2024 banner, I was disgusted and partially blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for three reasons.
First, some of his actions or inactions between Nov. 7, 2020, and Feb. 13, 2021, directly or indirectly threaten our democratic system of government and jeopardize the credibility of forthcoming national elections.
Second, Sen. McConnell made one of the greatest political miscalculations in modern history when he told GOP senators that their decision about whether to convict an impeached Donald Trump for the second time was a “vote of conscience.”
Those reasons make me wonder, “Does Mitch McConnell have any regrets?” and “What does Mitch think when he sees growing number of 2024 Trump banners and hats?”
These are reasonable questions to ask, since 13 months after losing reelection, Trump is still the undisputed king of the Republican Party and daily teases another presidential run when McConnell could have defanged the Trump tiger in February.
Instead, Trump continues to rule through fear and intimidation after rising from the ashes of Jan. 6. Resurrected by power derived from cult-like followers, the former president is intervening in the 2022 midterm’s primary process by backing loyalist candidates even against incumbents — potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s chances of winning back the Senate.
Characteristically, Trump conveniently forgets McConnell’s critical role during two impeachments that twice saved him from Senate conviction. And how McConnell provided Trump with bragging rights after his Senate confirmed a record number of judges, including three on the Supreme Court. Also, McConnell pushed through Trump’s first legislative victory, a tax cut bill in 2017, and 2018’s criminal justice reform.
But all that is past. Instead, Trump delights in regularly berating McConnell, using childish names such as “Broken Old Crow,” “stupid” and “fool,” accusing him of incompetence and questioning his legislative voting decisions.
Worse, in April, while addressing GOP donors, Trump called McConnell a “stone-cold loser” and “a dumb son of a b_ _ch.” And on the Fox Business Channel, Trump said, “the party needs new leadership in the Senate.”
Back to the question, “Does McConnell have any regrets?” Let’s review actions and statements that earned him Trump’s ire.
On Nov. 7, 2020, four days after the election, major news outlets projected that Joe Biden had defeated the incumbent president. However, then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell silently waited until Dec. 15 — the day after Biden’s win was certified by each state’s Electoral College – to acknowledge and congratulate the Biden-Harris ticket. Also, this was reportedly the last day Trump and McConnell spoke.
During those 39 days of McConnell’s silence, the president was in media overdrive, promulgating the “big lie” that undermined the integrity of our presidential elections.
McConnell chose not to counter Team Trump’s election falsehoods that ultimately resulted in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill when the Electoral College votes were ceremoniously certified before a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice President Mike Pence.
At 10 p.m. on Jan. 6, hours after the violent mob was removed from the Capitol, Leader McConnell addressed a reconvened joint session of Congress, saying, “This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.” He ended his short speech by stating, “And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.” The moment Trump heard those words is likely when he moved McConnell’s name to the top of his enemies list.
After the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” it is likely that McConnell never thought Trump would rise again from the ashes. That was evidenced by McConnell’s powerful Feb. 13 Senate acquittal speech, given after he, along with nine other Republican senators, voted “no” — ensuring the two-thirds Senate votes needed to convict an impeached president would fall short.
“American citizens attacked their own government,” said McConnell, “they used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like.” But, he continued, “They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
Indeed, McConnell could have used those words to make a strong case for convicting Trump, considering that on Jan. 6 he said it was a “failed insurrection.”
As a result, the power of impeachment uniquely vested in the legislative branch to check the co-equal executive branch had essentially been declared null and void by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership or lack thereof on Feb. 13, 2021.
In retrospect, one could ask: Was McConnell afraid of leading the Senate in impeaching, convicting and then potentially barring from holding office a president for the first time in U.S. history?
Perhaps, and remember how McConnell conveniently timed the Senate trial to occur after Biden’s inauguration, presumably to use the “we can’t convict a former president” card. And during the trial, he did just that, saying, “Article II, Section 4 must have force. It tells us the President, Vice President, and civil officers may be impeached and convicted. Donald Trump is no longer the president.”
But he might be again.
In preparation, Trump loyalists are positioning allies in local and state election offices to prevent future “fraudulent” outcomes. Moreover, numerous controversial Trump-inspired voting laws have been passed throughout the nation that many Democrats believe are uncalled for, restrictive and discriminatory.
Meanwhile, Trump’s primary focus and fundraising efforts are to avenge his 2020 loss, turn the “big lie” into truth and reconfigure Jan. 6 into a newfangled Patriot’s Day.
Any regrets, Sen. McConnell? If not, Amazon is selling Trump 2024 flags for $9.44 with free delivery that will be “in stock soon.”
Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.