Ronna McDaniel cosplays as leader of a paranoid dystopia, CPAC 2018. Wonkette photoshoop. Original photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

For reasons that we can't really discern, the Washington Post has taken on the tall order of trying to convince us that GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel is a very complex person who is sincerely conflicted about how she'll steering the GOP through the next few years, as it tries to deal with the political wreckage caused by the president before Joe Biden. In a weirdly fawning profile — in the "Lifestyle" section, because this is a lady politician after all — reporters Josh Dawsey and Manuel Roig-Franzia present McDaniel as an often-reluctant enabler of Donald Trump, and wow, look at the dilemma she faces now. Maybe they lost a round of truth or dare.

You see, while she had "pushed early for investigations into possible voter fraud," a move that "gave oxygen to" Trump's utter bullshit about the election having been stolen, McDaniel eventually "stopped short of endorsing many of Trump's most outrageous and unsupported assertions," and "has since accepted" the actual outcome of the election. Not that she went so far as to openly oppose the Big Lie while it was building up to the January attack on the Capitol.

Well then, we're convinced that McDaniel really is a very complex person with many facets — a veritable polygon of virtue.


Now, we're told, McDaniel "faces the unenviable task of steering a Republican Party that will have to reckon with Trump and the divisive and uncivil legacy of Trumpism," as if that weren't something she had helped to build, and not exactly at gunpoint, either. The profile does at least note that all the times she supported Trump's worst behavior, or at least offered only the mildest criticism if any at all, "have made her one of Trump's most visible enablers, according to her critics." Accurate enough! Then we get this: "Her allies say it is a more complicated picture." At least it is if you really try hard to lie about it.

It occurs to us that perhaps the profile might be an incredibly sophisticated pastiche: What if Dawsey and Roig-Franza are writing a profile of Ronna McDaniel that employs disingenuous assertions that she's actually a complex character for the sake of critiquing the GOP chair's relationship to the guy for whom she carried enough water to float a tax-cut-funded yacht?

Nahh, it's not meta, it's just weird bad writing.

We're told that, in a recent interview, McDaniel

chooses her words carefully when contemplating how he might influence the tenor and shape of the party, a delicate question for a partisan stalwart clamped in a vise between Trump's enormous Republican fan base and nervous establishment figures who would be relieved if he faded away. [...]

Trump's role in the party during his post-presidency "is going to be up to him in a lot of ways," McDaniel said in an interview. [...] "I'm not looking at who we can highlight or prioritize. It's about where we can take our party and our message going forward."

Which sounds exactly like someone who refuses to be pinned down because she's still making excuses for someone most Americans can't stand, but is nonetheless her party's unstable center of gravity. Ah, but what about the things she doesn't say? McDaniel does say, often, that the GOP needs to adopt

a more "civil" tone, especially toward women, and focus the conversation on policy proposals instead of personality — all implicit criticisms of a caustic, name-calling and often petty president who loves to call attention to himself.

Mmm-hmm. A more civil tone. That, like the GOP's biggest donor base, is pretty rich.

But more than anything, McDaniel seems intent on keeping the bull in the GOP china shop, because chaos and breaking shit have become the party's selling point. At least she's clear on calling for party unity, however dysfunctional the party is:

"If he forms a third party, he would be letting down the 74 million people who supported him," McDaniel said in the interview. "Just like if the Senate convicts him, the Republicans who vote for it will be letting down the 74 million who supported President Trump and the Republican Party."

Gross.

The profile is just bursting with weird moments, like this bizarre downplaying of the GOP's downplaying of the pandemic, and McDaniel's unwillingness to even consider that might have actually made her sick (emphasis added):

The months leading up to the new year had been tough, too. In October, she tested positive for the coronavirus days after attending an event at Trump International Hotel in Washington, where many attendees did not wear masks. She said she thinks she contracted the virus from a family member. (The RNC sometimes has not followed health guidance, hosting large indoor parties and dinners, where many members did not wear masks.)

Sometimes, huh? Yes, and Donald Trump has been known to occasionally be less than completely factual.

For a party leader who's allegedly torn between doing the right thing and indulging Trump, her political meal ticket, McDaniel sure keeps doing things she regrets, like echoing Trump's endorsement of Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama special election to fill Jeff Sessions's former Senate seat. But doing that did at least upset her!

Usually mild-mannered, aides recall her walking around RNC offices while muttering that Moore was a pervert and asking allies on the phone whether she should resign.

Narrator: She did not resign, and she also didn't resign after she let Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hold their Venezuela and hair dye presser in the lobby of the RNC in Washington. She "later told allies that she regretted her decision," so she's good. And after the 2020 election, she even told Trump one time that "many of his 'Stop the Steal' claims were 'crazy,'" though there again, she didn't say anything against it.

But as long as it doesn't actually involve speaking up in public against Trump, McDaniel is very brave!

On the night of the Capitol riot, McDaniel ensconced herself with aides in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton to discuss what they should do, as they sat horrified watching the coverage on television. She was in a tough spot because many RNC members remained resistant to any criticism of the president, and some even wanted to put out statements highlighting his unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations, people present at the conference said.

But she didn't put out such a statement! Very courageous. And how's this for courage?

At one point, she talked to Nikki Haley, the GOP star who served as South Carolina governor and Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, to ask her to tone down her criticisms of the president. Haley went ahead anyway with her remarks.

Hmm... maybe not so courageous then; the article, strangely, doesn't specify what those criticisms were, nor does it point out that Haley herself now says it's time to drop any pretense of holding Trump accountable, because isn't it time to move on from that little coup attempt? That was years three weeks ago, for heaven's sake.

In her interview with the Post, McDaniel says she didn't think Trump "intended to incite violence on the Capitol," but that maybe he "did not meet the moment" and could have tried harder to stop the violence he unintentionally unleashed.

God damn. She's so much worse than the Republicans who "bravely" offered mild criticism of Trump and then at least got the hell out, like Jeff Flake. McDaniel knows that where her party's gone is wrong, and in conflict with everything she's learned at church her whole life. She feels bad about it. But she does it anyway. And now she's been reelected as party chair so she can keep on doing things that she'll feel very bad about.

The piece closes with a sad story about how, the day after Trump supporters were literally chanting 'Hang Mike Pence!" while beating police officers to actual death, McDaniel called Pence and "became emotional. She wanted Pence to know he was still welcome to come to the RNC meeting. He did not go." McDaniel, we're told, "fought back tears."

Oh, she is so very conflicted. Just not conflicted enough to actually condemn the guy who sent thousands of his loyal followers to go murder Pence. But she cried, and if that isn't redemption, well then we guess that means she's leading the right crowd.

[WaPo / Wonkette photoshoop based on image by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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