Gail Collins: Trump is the perfect president for McConnell

(Susan Walsh | AP file photo) In this Nov. 4 photo, President Donald Trump greets Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on stage during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky.

I guess we can get back to impeachment.

Donald Trump announced the Iran crisis was over Wednesday, adding that Americans “should be extremely grateful and happy.”

It’s not entirely clear who he wants us to be grateful to. God? Fate? The ayatollah?

Let’s take a wild guess that the answer is living in the White House.

It was a very short talk — less than 10 minutes — but the president still managed to give himself multiple pats on the back. (“Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before. ...”)

And, naturally, blame everything bad on Barack Obama. Trump threw in one whopping inaccuracy — this would be our friendly, peace-loving version of “big fat lie.” He is going to spend the rest of his life claiming the Obama administration paid Iran billions of dollars to get the nuclear peace accord. Utterly false, but you will never talk Trump out of it, any more than you’ll convince him that windmills don’t cause cancer or that he didn’t really win the popular vote.

Dark, suspicious minds wondered if the president had started the whole Iran crisis to get Americans to stop thinking about the impeachment story. Certainly possible. This is a guy who knows how to distract. He golfs, he tweets, he creates crises.

If Trump thought there was any chance of actually getting kicked out of office, God knows what he’d do. Invade another country? Arrest Nancy Pelosi? Pretend to adopt a pet?

Fortunately for him — if not for us — Mitch McConnell is running everything. The House impeachment vote is, of course, a done deal. The bill is going to reach the Senate sometime soon, and the majority leader has been dropping tiny hints that he’s leaning toward giving Trump a pass. (“I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”)

During their deliberations, the senators apparently won’t be hearing from John Bolton, who’s now jumping up and down and waving his hand in an effort to volunteer to serve as a witness. Bolton would be the ideal person to ask about Trump’s plan to trade military aid to Ukraine for political dirt on Joe Biden. Granted, he’s a little late out of the gate. Probably been busy searching his conscience. Can’t possibly have anything to do with having a book coming out.

Doesn’t matter. McConnell has expressed zero enthusiasm for the idea of letting Bolton come — unless Donald Trump decides that the Senate’s top priority should be an unconstrained search for the truth. Hehehehe.

It would take four Republican defections just to get Bolton in the door. Even the most theoretically independent of them — even the ones who are at no political risk whatsoever — seem too terrified to stand up to their leader. (OK, Mitt Romney, one last chance.)

Some of the Republicans might think wistfully that Mike Pence — even Mike Pence — would be a big improvement over the guy we’ve got now. For the country, maybe, but not for Mitch McConnell. Trump is the perfect president for Mitch. For the past three years, the senator from Kentucky has basically been running the government. Somebody has to do it, and the administration’s people are barely capable of opening their office doors.

Trump’s two big victories as president have been the tax cut — organized and pushed through to law by Mitch McConnell — and a raft of new conservative federal judges. Listen to the president and you’d think he had the opportunity to name them all because Barack Obama just forgot — or was too lazy — to fill any openings. (“He gave me 142!”)

In the real world Obama was nominating judges like crazy. McConnell refused to even give them a hearing.

Thanks to his pal and protector Mitch, Trump has it both ways on issues like gun control and prescription drug prices. He can say he’s in favor of change without taking any risk that anything will be presented for his signature into law. Mitch has it all covered — with a lid. The House passed more than 400 bills last year, and about 80% of them are sitting around moldering on the Senate runway.

This is incredible power for a politician who’s never been elected to national office and isn’t even popular in his home state — one recent poll put him at the very bottom of the Senate, with a 37% positive voter rating in Kentucky.

Nevertheless, the country’s been Mitchified.

It’s really the McConnell era, and we ought to be discussing that every day, particularly whenever Donald Trump is within earshot.

There’s only so much the media can do to make this situation clear. We have certain journalistic rules against beginning news stories with, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who actually runs the country, expressed support for his minion, Donald Trump ...”

But nobody’s stopping you. Tweet away. It’ll drive the president crazy. No idea how McConnell would react. He’s probably too busy making all the real decisions to notice.

Gail Collins | The New York Times

Gail Collins is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.