New Book Details Mick Mulvaney’s Transformation from ‘Principled Conservative’ to Trump Enabler

New Book Details Mick Mulvaney’s Transformation from ‘Principled Conservative’ to Trump Enabler

Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post got hold of a copy of American Carnage, reporter Tim Alberta’s upcoming inside look at the Trump administration. The book appears to be chock full of quite a few unsurprising but enraging revelations about the Republican Party’s total capitulation to Donald Trump.

The early social media outcry seems to mostly concern Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House who spent two years enabling Trump so he could get a package of huge tax cuts passed and now, when it won’t hurt him politically or professionally, tells Alberta how regretful he finds Trump’s behavior.

But the most telling quote for the cynical observer of Republican politics comes from Mick Mulvaney, whom Alberta quotes from a 2016 interview:

“We’re not going to let Donald Trump dismantle the Bill of Rights,” Mulvaney said to Alberta in 2016 when he was still a congressman from South Carolina. “For five and half years, every time we got to the floor and try to push back against an overreaching president, we get accused of being partisan at best and racist at worst. When we do it against a Republican president, maybe people will see it was a principled objection in the first place.” 

Now that Mulvaney is serving as Trump’s acting Chief of Staff, as Dawsey notes, he tells people that “he lets Trump be Trump.”

As a congressman, Mulvaney aligned himself with the Tea Party, which spent years telling the public that its objections to Obama had to do with government spending and rising debt. There were also complaints about his allegedly unconstitutional “czars” and his use of executive orders and executive actions to get around Congress. All of this, Mulvaney and his cohorts kept saying, had nothing to do with partisanship or race, but were the principled stands of conservatives who believed in the constitutional order.

Then Trump came into office and pushed through an enormous tax cut that blew up the deficit and added to the nation’s debt, and Mulvaney was happy to help.

Now that he is working in the White House, Mulvaney seems to have no objections to Trump doing whatever he wants, even as Ryan and others admit that he and others around the president spent great amounts of time stopping Trump from making bad decisions that violated all sorts of laws and government standards.

In the Trump era, the only even superficially principled member of the GOP at the legislative level would be Rep. Justin Amash, who called for Trump’s impeachment over his actions in trying to block Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and later quit the party altogether. For someone like Mick Mulvaney, there is only power and who gets to wield it.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.