Donald Trump’s recent post suggesting that Sen. Mitch McConnell harbors a “death wish” for compromising with Democrats was such clearly unacceptable rhetoric that even solidly conservative voices like The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board felt compelled to condemn it. But, as usual, most officials within the putatively mainstream GOP aren’t saying a word. In the same rant, Trump put a blatantly offensive, racist stamp on McConnell’s Asian American wife, which has garnered only the meekest of pushback from his party.
Such reckless commentary from any national figure of either party would normally ignite condemnation across the political spectrum. The GOP’s cowed silence confirms that its elected officials continue to view this dangerously unstable ex-president as untouchable, no matter what he says or does — and no matter how relevant Republican polls still show him to be. That should be a top issue for non-MAGA midterm voters this year.
McConnell’s infraction was to support a short-term bipartisan spending bill. Trump, being Trump, immediately trashed it as a personal attack on himself. Trump remains furious at McConnell for criticizing his incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters and at McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, for resigning in protest as Trump’s transportation secretary.
Even by Trump’s standards, the diatribe on his Truth Social website Friday was shocking. Trump suggested, with typical narcissism, that McConnell supported the measure “because he hates Donald J. Trump, and he knows I am strongly opposed,” adding: “He has a DEATH WISH. Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”
Trump’s “China loving” bit is based on nothing but Chao’s Taiwanese origin. She is not known to have any sympathy whatsoever for mainland China. As for the “death wish” comment, no amount of protestation from Trump’s camp that he meant “political death” changes the fact that Trump’s violent words have been converted to violent acts before. As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell” — as they attempted with Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6.
That’s the kind of condemnation that needs to come from top Republicans like Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the party’s lead Senate campaign coordinator. But in television interviews over the weekend, Scott repeatedly changed the subject, refusing to directly address Trump’s “death wish” comment and dismissing his plainly racist comment about Chao with the shrugging observation that Trump “likes to give people nicknames.”
As pathetic as these responses are, they’re more than the dead silence emanating from most of the party. That wall of silence might be acceptable regarding a mere ex-president, but Trump is an ex-president who, polls show, is still the party’s front-runner for 2024. That should be considered a national crisis, and the GOP’s determination to ignore it should be disqualifying for the party.
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