WASHINGTON ― Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he’s happy with everything Donald Trump has done since becoming president ― except for one thing.
Was it his executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, perhaps, which was so bungled that it’s tied up in court? Was it his praise for Vladimir Putin? His war on the free press? His efforts to undermine the judicial branch of government? It’s none of those things. McConnell is annoyed by Trump’s tweets.
“Am I a fan of all the tweets? Use your imagination,” he chuckled at an event with constituents in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. “But if you focus on what the president is trying to accomplish, and you believe America needed to go in a different direction, I think he’s been doing all the right things.”
It’s the latest example of just how much GOP leaders are prepared to embrace or turn a blind eye to Trump’s actions, no matter how erratic or potentially dangerous they are, in exchange for the president signing the kinds of laws they’ve desperately wanted for years but couldn’t get under a Democratic president.
Certainly, Trump’s penchant for typo-ridden tirades on Twitter is bizarre and a distraction from the GOP’s agenda. But contrast the outrageousness of his tweets with that of his immigration executive order, for example, which left tens of thousands of immigrants in legal limbo for days and sparked protests nationwide.
Trump’s criticisms of the federal judges who ruled against him on that executive order sparked threats against those judges.
And the ban itself plays right into the hands of Islamic State terrorists, who thrive off the idea that the United States is at war with Islam.
McConnell didn’t raise concerns about any of that with his constituents. He talked about all the things Republicans want to do now that they control Congress and the White House, like comprehensive tax reform, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
It’s the same approach House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been taking, too: Block out the ugly things that are actually happening (e.g. Did Trump’s campaign coordinate with Russia during the election? Nothing to see here!) in favor of focusing on what your party wants to get done (e.g. quickly lining up bills to roll back government regulations).
That, for the moment, appears to be GOP leaders’ strategy for navigating the next four years under Trump.
“These are all the same kind of things a President Rubio or a President Bush or a President Romney would have recommended,” McConnell said of ACA repeal and tax reform at his constituent event. “So, I think we’re doing the kind of things that most Republicans believe can make the country better.”