Former Presidents and Vice Presidents have told us how psychologically difficult the early months of lost political power can be. We can therefore empathize if former President Trump is frustrated these days, and perhaps that explains his attack on us Thursday over his role in the GOP’s loss of the Senate.
“The Wall Street Journal editorial page continues, knowingly, to fight for globalist policies such as bad trade deals, open borders, and endless wars that favor other countries and sell out our great American workers, and they fight for RINOS that have so badly hurt the Republican Party,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “That’s where they are and that’s where they will always be. Fortunately, nobody cares much about The Wall Street Journal editorial anymore.”
For someone who says we don’t matter, he sure spends a lot of time reading and responding to us. Thanks for the attention.
What really seems to rankle the most famous resident of Mar-a-Lago isn’t his caricature of our policy differences. It’s that we recognize the reality that Mr. Trump is the main reason Republicans lost two Georgia Senate races in January and thus the Senate majority. Mr. Trump refuses to take responsibility for those defeats, contrary to all evidence.
Mr. Trump’s statement blames the Georgia losses on GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. His rap on Mr. Kemp is that he didn’t fight hard enough to overturn the President’s loss of the state in November, a claim Mr. Trump turned into his main campaign theme before the Georgia Senate elections on Jan. 5.
All the polling showed that the best argument for electing the two Republicans was as a check and balance against an all-Democratic government. But rather than make that point to voters, Mr. Trump focused on his grievances against Mr. Kemp and his claims that the election was stolen. Mr. Trump told Republican voters that their November votes had been meaningless, so it’s hardly a surprise their turnout fell in January. As the FiveThirtyEight website found, “The better Trump did in a county in November, the more its turnout tended to drop in the runoffs” in January.
Mr. Trump also blames Mr. McConnell’s “refusal to go above $600 per person on the stimulus check payments when the two Democrat opponents were touting $2,000 per person in ad after ad.” This rewrites history.
Mr. Trump’s Treasury Secretary announced support for the $600 checks on Dec. 8, and the GOP swung behind the proposal. He didn’t endorse the $2,000 checks until Dec. 22, giving Democrats a sword against the two GOP Senate candidates who had endorsed $600. The two eventually endorsed $2,000 but looked unprincipled in doing so. Mr. Trump’s $2,000 flip-flop knee-capped his own party’s candidates.
“Even more stupidly,” Mr. Trump adds, “the National Republican Senatorial Committee spent millions of dollars on ineffective TV ads starring Mitch McConnell.” That’s false too. We’re told the Senate committee spent only about $90,000 in those ads that ran on national cable TV to raise money. They raised about $6 million that was then spent on ads in Georgia that featured the Senate candidates, not Mr. McConnell.
We rehearse all this because it matters to GOP fortunes going forward. In the single Trump term, Republicans lost the House, White House and finally the Senate. How can it be that everyone other than the most prominent Republican in the country is responsible for victories but not the defeats that have left Republicans in the wilderness?
Losing to Joe Biden of all people, and by 7.1 million votes as an incumbent President, must be painful. Counseling could be in order. Any good analyst will explain that the first step toward recovery is to accept reality. The same applies to Republican voters who want to win back Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
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