Oh, dear. Given what a cartoonish farce this has all become, letâ€™s let Mr. Krabs of SpongeBob SquarePants do the honors:
â€œBoo, hoo. Let me play a sad song for you on the worldâ€™s smallest violin.â€
Specifically, let it not be forgotten that more than 125 of the very same House Republicans now raging at Trump for betrayal just got through betraying our country on his behalf, by joining a lawsuit designed to further his aim of subverting millions of votes in four states to keep him in power illegitimately.
Trumpâ€™s demand for $2,000 stimulus checks, rather than the $600 ones in the current deal, is imperiling the prospects for getting help to Americans in time, even as new signs are emerging that economic misery is worsening.
Itâ€™s not clear whether Trump will veto the bill, but the delay could kick it into the next Congress and makes a government shutdown more likely. This is spreading panic among Republicans and has put them on the defensive in the Georgia runoffs, where Senate control will be decided.
â€œFrustrationâ€ with Trump â€œboiled overâ€ on a conference call among House Republicans, the New York Times reports. On the call, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy acknowledged that the deal is now â€œtainted.â€ And Republicans vented about the problem this is creating for them:
â€œI donâ€™t know if we recover from this,â€ said Rep. Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, according to three officials on the call. â€œWe will have a hell of a time getting this out of peopleâ€™s head.â€
Representative Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska, said Mr. Trump had thrown House Republicans under the bus, according to a person on the call.
Meanwhile, The Post reports that both McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were â€œblindsidedâ€ by Trumpâ€™s condemnation. And thereâ€™s this:
White House aides were receiving an avalanche of angry messages from GOP lawmakers and consultants, who said they felt abandoned by Trump after administration officials said he supported the bill and asked them to vote for it.
Reps. Foxx and McCarthy both joined the brief filed by House Republicans in support of the Texas lawsuit. That sought to invalidate the voting in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia, based on a pernicious legal theory that amounted to a call for the Trump minorityâ€™s will to be imposed on the popular majority that elected Joe Biden.
Many of the other House Republicans on that brief came from those four states. To keep Trump in power, they were willing to undermine the right of countless voters in their own states and districts to choose who governs them, an appalling betrayal of the public trust.
The House vote on $2,000 checks
Trump is now rewarding House Republicans by forcing them into a very uncomfortable public position. House Democrats just held a vote by unanimous consent on a bill that would increase the stimulus payments to $2,000, as Trump wants, with just about all Democrats in support.
Now, a Democratic aide tells me, the House will hold a formal vote on that bill on Monday. It seems clear House Republicans will oppose that too, in order to keep the economic rescue bill on track on their own preferred terms.
None of this is to say that Trumpâ€™s position is admirable. While a larger stimulus check is definitely desirable, all signs are that Trump only arrived at this position out of pique. After Trump was largely MIA during this process for many months, his allies reportedly believe this is mostly a way for him to punish Republicans for failing to help realize his quest to overturn the election.
It is amazing that Trump is such a madman that, after all Republicans have already done to help him subvert the voting, he is still raging at them for betrayal on this front. But thereâ€™s an element of poetic justice here.
The corrupt bargain unravels
The corrupt GOP bargain with Trump has long been as follows. Republicans would politely ignore his corruption (among many other hideous degradations) or even actively shield him from accountability wherever possible. In exchange, they would get conservative judges and Trumpâ€™s active support as they pursued tax cuts for the rich and other deeply regressive obsessions like the failed rollback of the Affordable Care Act.
But not only was all this still not good enough for Trump, heâ€™s now also further punishing them in a way that exposes a politically damaging core truth about that very bargain. Congressional Republicans, motivated by orthodox conservative opposition to spending, are the real obstacle to robust assistance to the American people, amid two of the biggest crises our nation has faced in decades.
That, after all this, House Republicans feel abandoned and betrayed by Trump â€” well, it couldnâ€™t be happening to a bunch of nicer sycophants, enablers and betrayers of our democracy.