The Trump Administration and the Republican Party got a troubling sign Christmas week that all of their number might not be willing to stand together come an impeachment trial.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Tuesday told KTUU-TV in Anchorage she was “disturbed” that her leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, would be coordinating with the White House in the coming trial – assuming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send over the articles of impeachment passed by the House earlier this month to the Senate.
Widely viewed as the quintessential “Republican In Name Only,” the Senate Energy and Natural Resources chairwoman and senior Alaska senator, first elected in 2002, said, “we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense” and charged that McConnell “has further confused the process” after House Democrats rushed to get the president impeached before Christmas.
“Hell is murky!” exclaimed Lady Macbeth, suggesting she was well-acquainted with the environs beneath the earth, as she washed off phantom blood after driving herself insane with guilt. “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?”
It can be a murky business dealing with Lady Murkowski, who in the past has been willing to magnify her one vote in the U.S. Senate, acting as a kind of RINO empress. When Barack Obama was president, she used her Senate floor votes to support his position over 70% of the time.
This year she refused to sign a Senate resolution opposing House Democrats’ Trump impeachment inquiry. And most notably, last year Murkowski was the only Republican senator to vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, despite being recorded as voting “present” thanks to a technical maneuver on the floor. Alaska’s state GOP opposed her opposition to Kavanaugh.
Would Murkowski play Lady Macbeth and help and encourage Democrats in their campaign to remove Donald Trump? She certainly is letting Republicans know they would be unwise to relax and expect her to fall in line and support a Republican president, and almost all of her fellow Republican senators.
The Republican leadership would do well to take a page out of the strategy manual of Lyndon Johnson, who as Senate majority leader, and later as president, knew how to keep senators in line, using threats, flattery, a talent for reading his fellow man, and plain hard work.
“I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it,” LBJ once reflected.
Early this year, a Democrat explained how his party doesn’t tolerate Murkowski-style dissidence. “We are a team,” northern California Rep. John Garamendi, a Pelosi ally, said of the speaker’s willingness to punish House Democrats who opposed her too strongly or too publicly, like New York’s Kathleen Rice and Anthony Brindisi. “If 99 of us are going in one direction and the other person is going in the other direction, we’ve lost 1/100th of our potential,” he told The Hill.
According to Garamendi, “if you don’t want to be on the team, then you can sit on the bench,” pointing out that “In the NFL, if you’ve got a quarterback who doesn’t want to work with the team, they’re not getting on the field.”
The stakes are too high in next year’s election for Republicans to be too full of the milk of human kindness to stop those within their ranks who are intent on conjuring toil and trouble.
— Written by Thomas McArdle
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