Anyone who cares about the Republican Party needs to understand that the ongoing campaign to blame the midterms on Donald Trump and throw support behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for 2024 is a GOP establishment scheme to avoid responsibility for their own failures.
Forget about the Trump versus DeSantis question for a minute. Right now, the far more important and pressing task at hand is to hold Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and other GOP leaders like Rep. Tom Emmer, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, accountable for their massive failures this election cycle.
Any time wasted speculating on the 2024 primary is time not spent talking about McConnell’s dereliction of duty as the leader of the GOP — not just his horrible funding decisions during the midterms but also the past two years of facilitating President Biden’s agenda.
As my colleague Tristan Justice argued in these pages last week, McConnell didn’t just prioritize his allies over winning a majority in the midterms, long before the cycle began he capitulated to Biden’s agenda, helping to raise the debt limit, pass a massive infrastructure package, and facilitate a CHIPS Act that benefits corrupt special interests. McConnell’s success in appointing federal judges is admirable and will stand as his legacy, but now that Democrats have secured a Senate majority that legacy might well be eclipsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who has proven just as adept as McConnell at confirming judges.
And then there’s McCarthy. As House Republicans meet this week to elect a new speaker, rumors are swirling about a plan among conservative members to derail McCarthy’s bid for the speakership. Good. It isn’t even clear at this point whether Republicans will win a majority, and if they do it will be razor-thin, narrower than Democrats’ current eight-seat majority. As minority leader, the lion’s share of blame falls on McCarthy, who should have come up with something better for Republicans to run on than his anodyne and uninspiring “commitment to America.”
But McConnell and McCarthy aren’t the only ones whose feet need to be held to the fire. The dust hadn’t even settled after Election Day when Emmer, a complete RINO from Minnesota who should be kicked out of the Republican Party altogether, launched his bid for House GOP whip, the third-highest ranking position in a Republican House majority. As head of the NRCC, it was Emmer’s job to ensure Republicans won House races, a task he miserably failed.
As Nate Hochman explained recently in National Review, Emmer, who has chaired the NRCC since 2019, “has already fallen far short in his position as chairman of the NRCC, and his shadow campaign for whip during the closing months of the campaign demonstrates a willingness to place his own interests over those of his caucus. He has not earned a promotion.”
If the disastrous midterm results weren’t by themselves enough to disqualify Emmer, his arrogant response to the outcome, that House Republicans should just be happy to be in the majority, should leave no question that he’s not only not the man for the job of majority whip, but he should also be fired from the NRCC.
Continuing the trend of Republicans who think they can fail upward, McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman and a close Trump ally, signaled Monday she plans to run for reelection as party chair, a post she would hold through the 2024 election. But what, in light of the midterm fiasco, has McDaniel done to deserve the post? Nothing.
When the RNC decides the chairmanship at its January meeting, it would be far better to give it to one of the few Republicans who surpassed expectations this cycle, like Rep. Lee Zeldin, whose strong bid for governor in New York did more to help down-ballot races and secure whatever slim House majority Republicans end up with. As columnist Robert George noted on Twitter, “Lee Zeldin had the most successful GOP gubernatorial result in 20 years. Even more remarkably, he had more coattails (as seen in House results) than the winning Democratic governor.”
Whatever happens, the manifest failures of Republican leaders shouldn’t go unpunished. At the very least, those whose job it was to win strong majorities in the House and Senate shouldn’t be promoted for botching it. As Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted Monday, a leadership vote in the Senate should be delayed “until we have a clear explanation for why our 2022 campaign efforts failed AND until we have a clear understanding of the political & policy direction for the GOP Senate moving forward.”
What Rubio is saying isn’t radical, by the way. It’s the bare minimum for any GOP senator right now, given what happened. As my colleague Mollie Hemingway noted, any Republican unable to say this should be primaried.
Now is not the time to get distracted. The 2024 primary fight will take care of itself, and it deserves attention only after there’s been a reckoning among Republican leaders over their failures in this cycle.
If not, we can expect the same class of weak GOP leaders to continue aiding and abetting Biden’s disastrous presidency, working hard to facilitate Democrats’ harmful agenda, and putting their own priorities ahead of Republican voters.