Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19
It’s a fitting if imperfect metaphor.
The Roman Senate honored Julius Caesar by declaring him “dictator in perpetuity.” Then ironically, fearful that their dictator would take the title seriously and establish totalitarian rule, that same body assassinated him in a flurry of knives. Caesar fell with over 20 stab wounds, the final one delivered by his trusted friend, Brutus.
It was March 15, 44 B.C. – the Ides of March.
Donald Cadet Bone Spurs Trump has zero resemblance to Caesar as far as military prowess. However, his Republican enablers in the U.S. Congress have all but handed him unilateral rule. Could it be they are recognizing their folly? Could Trump’s day of reckoning be approaching?
Consider the recent chain of events. The leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell announces that his president will sign the budget plan and simultaneously declare a national emergency. McConnell says he’ll support the declaration of a national emergency in succinct comments on the Senate floor. That was yesterday.
Today, Trump delivers on both counts in the White House Rose Garden. His unscripted, self-sabotaging announcement is filled with bluster and boasts and lies. He tips over into sing-song. He bashes journalists and networks. He makes up numbers. He praises the dictator of North Korea, foreseeing great economic potential (a future Trump Tower Kaesong?). He tells his legal adversaries that he didn’t really need the emergency declaration. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
On and on he goes, and the alarms spike.
Democrat Senator and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls the emergency declaration “a lawless act.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins Schumer in a statement in which the Democrats assert that “Congress cannot let the President shred the Constitution.”
Representative Jerry Nadler, head of the powerful House Judiciary committee, pledges to put a joint resolution of disapproval on the House floor, and anticipates that it will pass by a majority vote. This will then have to be taken up by the Senate within 15 days – with no filibuster. It is here that McConnell may transform into Brutus.
The House Democrats, led by a true strategist, are setting up a Showdown in the Senate. Pelosi knows that McConnell has one job: getting Republicans reelected. What happens to their chances when they do a battle royal over a fake emergency that threatens the Constitutional power of Congress, and in a very real way, harms constituents in the states the senators represent? All this infighting will happen in an environment where support for “the wall” is negligible, Trump’s popularity is fading and 2020 is around the corner.
Already, three Texas property owners have filed suit against the emergency declaration. More are sure to follow. People do not like it when the government comes in and takes their property for below market rates. They especially dislike it when there is no emergency, no threat, no valid reason other than a campaign cheer that failed to materialize.
What’s a Senate Majority Leader to do? Let his conference run amok and vote as they wish, bungling all chances for 2020? Or finally put his foot down and demand they vote to disapprove?
There is more for McConnell to weigh. The Special Counsel’s Office has neatly prepared to sentence the major criminals in his investigation in March, leaving open the next few weeks for further cooperation and more indictments.
Take a look at what is in the near future for the Republican tray of bad luck:
- 26 February 2019: Maria Butina‘s sentencing court date.
- 27-28 February 2019: Michael Cohen publicly testifies.
- Sometime in March 2019: Michael Flynn‘s sentencing court date.
- 8 March 2019: Paul Manafort‘s first sentencing court date.
- 13 March 2019: Paul Manafort‘s sentencing court date.
- 14 March 2019: Felix Sater testifies publicly before the House Intelligence Committee *NEW!
- 15 March 2019: Rick Gates‘ sentencing court date.
The coup d’etat will arrive when Michael Cohen takes the stage and testifies in open hearing before the world. His appearance, postponed and delayed in a tease worthy of a cheap Trump reality show – except it will be real and everyone will be watching.
Yes, Mitch McConnell may play Brutus to the worst Caesar stand-in around. It’s either that or stand by and watch as the GOP disintegrates, his president is incriminated and the U.S. Constitution is violated.
Mitch will be forced to say “No wall” and “No emergency declaration.” And though these seem like surface wounds to the rest of us, they will be the unkindest cuts of all. For when Trump loses his Republican Senate, he has lost it all.