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Bill Straub: McConnell relents on ‘President-elect Biden’ but his Ky. Senate colleague cause problem

Is there a more appropriate cover boy for the modern Republican Party – that toxic conglomeration of fabulists, conspiracy mongers, White nationalists, petulant whiners and cheap chiselers — than Kentucky’s own Sen. Rand Paul?

Granted, the competition is fierce. Any party that can produce the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, and Rep. Thomas “Wonder Boy’’ Massie, R-SomewhereorotherLewisCounty, certainly offers a plethora of viable contenders.

But ultimately even old Mitch succumbed to the inevitable this week, choking through a statement on the Senate floor in which he reluctantly noted that Democrat Joe Biden will, indeed, be the next president of the United States, stating the obvious after weeks of dodging the issue, a time when he looked all the while like Gale Sayers dancing to avoid Detroit Lion tacklers.

Granted McConnell’s acknowledgement arrived even after Russia President Vladimir Putin had extended his personal congratulations to the president-elect. But why be a stickler when you have old Rand around to make you appear as wise as Solomon?

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com

Paul, of Bowling Green, was on hand Wednesday during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing spewing his usual nonsense. The meeting focused on the baseless rumors of irregularities and fraud circulating about the 2020 election resulting in Biden defeating incumbent Republican Donald J. Trump, aka Loser, by some seven million votes.

To no one’s surprise, Paul asserted that we was robbed.

“But the fraud happened, the election in many ways was stolen and the only way it will be fixed is by in the future re-enforcing the laws,” Paul said, without the slightest hint of evidence to support his baseless findings.

Addressing Chris Krebs, the former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency fired by Trump for asserting the 2020 election was absent of widespread fraud, Paul countered, “If you’re saying it’s the safest election based on no dead people voted, no non-citizens voted no people broke the absentee rules, I think that’s false and I think that’s what upset a lot of people on our side.”

Now, let’s be reasonable for a few moments. Trump, the loser as previously noted, has maintained ceaselessly that he actually won the Nov. 3 contest despite the results establishing that Biden received seven million more votes than he did and that he was outclassed in the Electoral College by a 306-232 count.

Under most circumstances in American electoral history the loser acknowledges the results, congratulates the victor and immediately proceeds to the lecture circuit where he or she rakes in a whole lot more cash than they would sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Not Trump.

His Orange Eminence forged a new campaign, beginning with the courts, filing lawsuit after lawsuit in certain states seeking to overturn the results with the incredible claim that the process was “rigged’’ and that the Democrats cheated.
Unfortunately for El Presidente, various courts perused his claims and told him, in no uncertain terms, to take a hike. Basically, the message was “just because you claim there was fraud doesn’t make it so.” Of the literally dozens of suits filed seeking to overturn the election results in several highly competitive states, none have succeeded.

Even the Bengals have a better record than that.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which includes three Trump appointees, refused to hear a case sent to it directly. Attorney General William Barr, who has since resigned his position, said there is no evidence of vast fraud sufficient to overturn the election.

All that unsuccessful legal hocus-pocus should establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump lost and his claims are a bunch of hooey.

But wait, there’s more.

Told to hit the road by the courts, Trump next tried to convince legislators in states like Pennsylvania, where he lost by more than 81,000 votes, to ignore the results, give the old heave-ho to the Democrats selected to represent the commonwealth in the Electoral College and approve a slate of electors more sympathetic to his wrought feelings.

Again, no dice.

In Georgia Trump tried to convince some poor sap named Bob Raffensperger, the secretary of state, to refuse to certify the results, simply because he didn’t much care for the outcome. Raffensperger refused, leading the president of the United States to call him names. He then proceeded to call the governor of the Peach State, Brian Kemp, names for failing to force Raffensperger to comply with his more-than-reasonable request.

It all recalls the words of the late, great Warren Zevon, “I’m a desperate man. Bring lawyers, guns and money. The XXXX has hit the fan.”

So Trump, despite his protestations, has hit a dead end. All he’s accomplished thus far is prove what many have been saying about him all along – that the president of the United States is a fool. But there’s old Rand Paul, expressing his devotion, essentially telling the president to stomp on the gas and head right into that concrete wall.

This, of course, isn’t the first time Paul has been found talking out of his hat. A couple of weeks ago he dismissed calls from a multitude of public health experts beseeching the public at large to don masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Paul insisting that cloth masks, those in most common use, “don’t work.”

Once again, like when he maintained that “fraud happened, the election in many ways was stolen,” he provides no supporting evidence. You’re just supposed to take his word, apparently.

Now it appears Paul might be causing his old pal Mitch a migraine.

Congress is due to receive the results of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. Under the rules the House and Senate can accept the tally and proceed on their merry way. But if a single lawmaker in the House or in the Senate challenges the Electoral College outcome for any reason, members are required to vote on whether to accept it or not.

This is a fate McConnell would very much prefer to avoid. Reports maintain that McConnell told members of the GOP caucus that any objection would force them into a “terrible” vote. Each lawmaker would go on record affirming that Biden, indeed, won the election and Trump lost. That would more than likely enrage the Trumpster, who already is sore at McConnell for daring to acknowledge that Biden is the president-elect.

Such a showdown could have an impact on two Senate races in Georgia. There, two incumbent Republicans, Sen. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are in a run-off against two Democrats. Both races appear tight. That election is scheduled for Jan. 5 – the day before the chambers receive the Electoral College report.

If Trump gets wind either candidate intends to vote against his best interests, or even if it seems most of the 53 Republican lawmakers will refuse to back his play, he may take his ball and go home, upending GOP chances and turning control of the Senate over to the Democrats.

If there’s one thing McConnell would hope to avoid in this whole, wide world it’s the loss of his privileges as majority leader. The prospect of Trump throwing a tantrum and blowing up the run-offs is likely heavy on his mind. The best way to handle it is there be no vote at all.

But several lawmakers, including Paul, are contemplating an objection.

Now, one would think if Sen. Rand Paul honestly believes the election was stolen and that fraud was committed, he would be obligated to object and force a vote. It’s pretty simple, really — If he maintains that Democrats employed underhanded methods to oust the Republican candidate, he must use his position in the United States Senate to challenge the Electoral College results, or else an unspeakable crime has been committed against the republic.

It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Rand Paul. Otherwise everything he has had to say about it to this juncture is just hot air and voters in Kentucky would be forced to determine whether his relentless bloviations are trustworthy and worth heeding.

And his record so far ain’t good.

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  1. Marv Dunn says:

    When the Texas AG sued four other states and 17 other state AG’s plus 126 Republican congressmen signed on; I looked at the names expecting to find our own Thomas Massie’s name plus maybe a couple of other Kentuckians there. It was not to be! I have a feeling that our old Mitch may have put some pressure on our delegation to his credit. I can’t believe I just gave Mitch credit for something. And by the way Bill, I love your Warren Zevon quote. Although he died probably ten years ago I still listen to his songs frequently and he’s on my permanent playlist.

  2. Ruth Bamberger says:

    Adding to Marv Dunn’s comments, none of the KY members of the House signed on, and AG Cameron did not join the other AGs in the suit. Probably McConnell had something to do with this; too bad he is unable to shut down Rand Paul, who is an embarrassment to the commonwealth.

  3. Nancy Rowles says:

    “Liars litigate”….Mary Louise Kelly, NPR.
    “Brevity is the soul of wit”….Oscar Wilde.
    Bill Straub, for senate against Ran Paul!

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