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Will the GOP Try the "Wicked Witch's Guards Gambit" to Cut Loose Trump?

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It is likely that impeachment proceedings will start against Trump on this week. And this record second impeachment could be referred to the Senate for the removal-trial phase the next day. Knowing how that might forever stain the reputation of the Republican Party regardless of how the Senate rules, the GOP must make several calculations to minimize the damage.

How can they turn on Trump and alienate the fewest voters among his base? How can they present themselves in a light that will allow for their reelection? There are more than 70 million voters who gulped up the kool-aid and fell in love with the myth of a strong man taking on the system. After last Wednesday's Capitol assault, perhaps half will soon be forced to come face to face with reality.

Right now, the future of a viable GOP hangs in the balance. But those scales could be tipped further if Trump unchained does far more lasting damage to our nation and the Republican Party in his last days in the Oval.

A #Trumpectomy, no matter how messy, needs to be done stat, or the GOP could be rendered feckless for a generation. Billionaire donors and CEOs won't like that, and their firehose of campaign money is likely to be abruptly shut off.

So the short- and long-term repercussions have to be weighed. Let Trump incite more violence around the nation and have his GOP enablers be rightfully blamed, or put the petulant child in the corner in a timeout, awaiting punishment.

The Trump legacy is doomed, with rabid supporters about to become a tiny minority. The Republican Party will have to reinvent itself to remain viable. And it will have to be believable.

Oddly, in these surreal times, they may have to look to the land of Oz for guidance.

Remember how in "The Wizard of Oz" the wicked witch's guards were essentially released from her spell when she was liquidated? They were the first to hail Dorothy, and suddenly went from scary automatons to sympathetic individuals enjoying instant freedom after the mind control had been cut. They handed Dorothy the broom, her ticket home. And as wide-eyed children we saw that as plausible.

For the Wicked Witch's Guards Gambit to work, things must be, well, "...handled very delicately" to quote the witch in question. They have to make a big deal about this last straw, adding just the right mix of indignation and betrayal while admitting that they'd been played the fool.

It has to come off as sincere, though. The Trump #NeroCons have been willing to swallow boatloads of hypocrisy, but that was of course because it aligned with their favored narrative. The hypocrisy of politicians turning on Trump on a dime will not be seen in the same light.

Last Wednesday's incitement to violence should be that last straw, that tipping point, that Republican politicians can point to. For five Senators, it truly was. They abandoned their pledges to vote "yea" on the objection to the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral-college votes being counted. But in the House, over half of the GOP representatives - mindful that courting the current base may provide their only path to reelection in two years - went along with the objection ruse.

These 138 members of the #SeditionCaucus have gambled on the Trump voters remaining loyal to the outgoing president's congressional supporters. But their staying the course on the House floor could make this schism within the GOP permanent. That gives the remaining GOP representatives a better road for the party: deploy the Wicked Witch's Guards Gambit and leave these miscreants hung out to dry.

In the Senate, Mitt Romney has positioned himself as the face of reason, playing the long game. He has a tiny history of being on opposite sides with Trump, particularly in the impeachment-removal trial. If the shunning of Trump becomes universal among 80% of the public, in 2024 Romney just might be the face of a rebranded GOP.

But for the rest of Senate Republicans, the reversal of support for Trump has to be more immediate.

The Wizard Of Oz: The Wicked Witch of the West's Death (1939)
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Shaun O'Hagan)
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