NRSC chair Rick Scott: The Republican civil war is canceled

Trump

Yeah, sorry, Rick. Only one person gets to decide whether that’s true. And it sounds like he’s in a warlike mood.

Scott’s currently in charge of the NRSC, tasked with taking back the Senate in 2022 and restoring the Republican majority. Step one in that effort: Making sure that MAGA types don’t poison the GOP’s chances by reprising the Alabama Senate primary from 2017, in which a boring establishmentarian (backed by Trump, ironically) lost to a gonzo Trump-hugging populist, who then proceeded to fumble away a gimme in the general election to the Democrats. Scott’s nightmare is McConnell backing some dull but electable mainstreamer in Georgia only to have Trump swing behind Marjorie Taylor Greene, who goes on to win the primary comfortably and then lose to Raphael Warnock by five points statewide. We cannot have a house divided, Scott said in a memo issued today — shortly after conferring by phone with Trump.

Except … we are going to have one. At the barest minimum, all 10 House Republicans who backed impeachment plus Lisa Murkowski will face a Trump-backed challenger from the right next year. Scott only has to concern himself with Murkowski, but I think this message is aimed at MAGA across the board. We must put aside grievances and unite.

This is real life folks. If they can cancel the President of the United States, they will have no problem cancelling you and me. Today’s Democrats do not want to simply “cancel” us, they want to destroy anyone who disagrees with them…

To beat this threat — the threat of socialism, crushing debt, loss of freedom — we must focus on addition, not subtraction; on looking forward, not backward…

Some of you voted for President Trump enthusiastically, some with reservations, and some with great reluctance. It doesn’t matter. We got 74 million votes, and we can easily add to our numbers if we work together.

Looking backward won’t help us win. Let us look forward and fix our eyes on what is important – an America with plenty of good-paying jobs, an America with great schools and safe communities, an America with freedoms and liberties people around the world would die for. The only way we can lose is if we stop ourselves by needlessly fracturing. Again, now is not the time. Save it for another day.

The Republican Civil War is now cancelled.

I’m not sure who he has in mind when he says “they” canceled Trump. I assume he means Big Tech, in which case let me remind him that the reason Trump was finally “canceled” after four years (actually 10 years) of belligerence, innuendo, conspiracy theories, and lies on Twitter is because he’d become a credible threat to openly incite violence and insurrection among his supporters. Any random joe who encourages violence is at risk of being nuked by social media moderators; Trump, by dint of his office, managed to hang on for a few days past an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a crowd which he had invited to D.C. for the express purpose of intimidating Congress as they counted the votes for Biden.

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Let’s not cry too many crocodile tears, then, over the “cancellation” of a guy who spent the two months after Election Day using his many platforms to exhort his allies into trying to stage a coup on his behalf.

Anyway. While well intended, Scott’s call to cancel the GOP civil war runs up against the uncomfortable fact that there are some Republicans whom many other Republicans reeeeeeally dislike. Compare Liz Cheney’s favorable rating among Democrats in this new YouGov poll to her rating among Republicans:

That’s 38/34 among Democrats and … 20/45 among her own party after supporting impeachment. Trump’s new archenemy, Mitch McConnell, scores a 28/57 rating among Republicans, which is somewhat better than his numbers among Democrats (Cocaine Mitch is probably the second-most hated Republican in the country on the left) but not wildly better. Dems rate him 16/72.

As for conspiracy kook Marjorie Taylor Greene, she clocks in at a cool 34/19, more popular than both McConnell and Cheney and considerably less unpopular than both. Hopefully that’s less a function of her beliefs about, say, school shootings than the more mundane facts that Trump loves her and the Democrats recently targeted her for exclusion from House committees. But whatever the reason, a party where Greene is a more respected figure than marquee establishment names like Cheney and McConnell is a party that’s at odds with itself, with its leadership class wanting one thing and its base wanting something very different.

If I were Scott, I wouldn’t have said that the GOP civil war is canceled. I would have said that it’s over and Trump won. Even if a few of the House Republicans who voted for impeachment manage to survive their primaries, not all will. The lesson to the rest of the caucus about the perils of crossing him will be crystal clear, to the extent it isn’t already.

I think Scott’s strategy with Trump will be to convince him to *limit* his clashes with McConnell and the establishment in primaries, knowing that there’s no way to persuade him to forgo those challenges entirely. (If party leaders can get Trump to focus exclusively on the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach, they may consider that a moral victory.) The one flashpoint that probably can’t be avoided is Georgia. Trump wants revenge on Brian Kemp for, I guess, refusing to try to rig the election for him after the fact and he won’t want to stand idly by if McConnell backs a mainstream candidate in the Senate primary knowing that he has Greene and Doug Collins available to run from the right. The play among Republican leaders may be to try to talk Trump into steering Collins into a gubernatorial primary against Kemp, as that would quench Trump’s thirst for revenge and conceivably lead him to stand down in the Senate race, clearing the way for the McConnell candidate. Party leaders may regret to see Kemp sacrificed but at this point there may be so many Trump voters mad at him that he’s less electable statewide than Collins is.

Of course, all of these calculations could change if Trump ends up being criminally charged in Georgia for trying to tamper with the election. Stay tuned!

I’ll leave you with this bit from Liz Cheney’s Q&A with the Reagan Foundation today about foreign policy, which naturally ended up addressing the events of January 6. Should we have a 9/11-style commission to study what happened at the Capitol, she’s asked? Sure, she says — before adding that you can’t learn any lessons about the riot unless you also focus on the many election lies Trump told to incite it. She’s not backing down from a confrontation with him even though she’s all but certain to lose it.

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