From the first seconds of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump was as fired up about the Republican establishment in Washington as he was about the Democrats. Throughout the primaries, he made as many – if not more – enemies on the right side of the aisle as he did on the left. By the end of voting, it was only the overwhelming will of the people that put Trump on that stage in Cleveland; you could scarcely find an elected Republican who wouldn’t have preferred someone – ANYONE – else.
Since coming to Washington, Trump has cooled off on his attacks on his fellow Republicans, but only slightly. He’s waged into rhetorical battle with Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, and many others when the mood has struck him. And while he has also found himself at odds with Republicans like Ted Cruz and the congressmen in the House Freedom Caucus, his loyalties usually come down with the people who put him in the White House – the working conservative men and women who are SICK of the GOP’s political theater.
So why is he firmly backing – and campaigning for – the establishment’s pick in the Alabama senate race?
Sitting Senator Luther Strange – appointed by the governor to replace Jeff Sessions in January – is heading into a September 26 runoff against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore has the backing of Steve Bannon, Seb Gorka, Sarah Palin, and virtually every other conservative pundit this side of George Will. Strange has the backing of Mitch McConnell…and, oddly enough, Donald Trump.
So what are we to make of Trump’s bizarre allegiance to a senator who seems to have much more loyalty to the “establishment” than to the doctrine of Trumpism?
First, we should say that, unlike the Breitbart crowd, we don’t think that Luther Strange is some kind of abominable swamp monster that simply MUST be ejected from the Senate as quickly as possible. He’s fine. He’s a team player. A go-along to get-along sort who isn’t going to make a lot of waves either way.
We’re more disgusted with the multi-million dollar campaign being waged against his opponent, Mr. Moore, by the likes of McConnell, the Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the Republican war machine. This is the usual way of doing business – defend against any and all conservative grassroots movements – and it makes us sick. It is, in fact, the very machine Trump himself had to overcome to become the Republican nominee. You’d think he would be sympathetic to Moore’s predicament…and perhaps proud of the way Moore is winning in the polls despite the heavy-handed opposition.
If we were to guess, we’d venture that Trump and McConnell have made some kind of deal centering around the Alabama race. You support my guy, and we’ll see that you get such-and-such legislation. The wall, maybe, although we’ll have to see it to believe it. If that’s the case, fine. That’s Washington.
But in the future, he should be careful with the deals he makes…especially when they put him on the wrong side of the same voters who were so proud to buck the establishment when they pulled the lever for Donald Trump last spring.