As we watch the Cheney drama unfold, one of the things I keep going back to is that there was a brief period, as little as 48 hours, after the insurrection in which Trump’s hold on the GOP was significantly shaken. When the Senate reconvened the evening of January 6th Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a floor speech in which he basically repudiated Trump. “Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he’s been a consequential president, but today, first thing you’ll see. All I can say is a count me out. Enough is enough.”
Within a few days, Graham was back to being an abject loyalist, even flying with the President as he tried to fight back or change the story in the aftermath of the violence.
Graham to my ear sounded drunk that night. And quite honestly, if I’m right in what I heard, I can hardly blame him.
A few days later Kevin McCarthy said Trump bore responsibility for provoking the insurrection before shifting his stance a week later.
This has certainly been the trajectory over the last three months. While the general tendency has been to downplay or deny the insurrection itself, embrace of the Big Lie of a stolen election has solidified into party orthodoxy.
My curiosity is that I don’t think I’ve seen a really good description, a moment by moment account, of how Republicans momentarily loosened their ties to Trump and then refastened and even tightened them. I’m not sure it’s really even possible to write such an account now given how few of the people involved have any interest in being candid about how everything transpired. But I’d love to see the real story of how it unfolded up close.