Even as President Donald Trump was trying to mend fences with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over a make-nice lunch Monday, his political guru, Steve Bannon, was taking a bulldozer to them.
Bannon, the former senior political adviser to Trump and now a rogue Republican hit man, declared war on GOP senators facing re-election in 2018, declaring he would enlist hard-right primary challengers unless they fell in line behind Trump’s agenda — and disavowed any loyalty to McConnell.
Maybe Bannon is freelancing, or perhaps he and Trump are playing good cop/bad cop with McConnell and senators who have not been able to come together to give the president significant wins in his first 10 months.
Or maybe Bannon and Trump are trying to destroy the Republican Party.
Bannon could not be doing more damage to the GOP if he were indeed a covert operator being paid to rip the party apart, and for that matter, nor could Trump, with his serial attacks on Republican senators.
Lining up primary challenges with appeal to the far-right base, but little hope of winning the election, will assuredly wipe out the narrow Republican majority and turn the chamber over to the Democrats. That will end any hope of conservatives salvaging something positive out of the Trump presidency.
Bannon and others of his ilk believe the Trump presidential victory can be replicated in Senate races with candidates who appeal to the far-right base, as Judge Roy Moore recently did in upending incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the special Alabama primary.
Moore may well win in November. But Michigan is not Alabama, and neither is Arizona, Nevada or other states with competitive Senate races next year. Trump clones won’t win general elections in those places.
The only hope the GOP has to hang on to the Senate is to exploit the advantages of incumbency.
Only idiots or subversives would surrender that edge. Take your pick of which describes Trump and Bannon.
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