Donald Trump's first order of business after escaping his second impeachment conviction (with the blessing of Senate Republicans) was to get revenge on the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. His message was clear: Hold Trump accountable and you'll pay for it.
Back then, what qualified as an affront to Trump seemed directly related to taking an action that immediately harmed him, such as supporting his ouster from office.
Now Trump is widening his list of offenses to include any action that might benefit one of his political enemies, such as helping President Joe Biden enact a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. In other words: The friend of my enemy is my enemy.
That's the new bar Trump is demanding GOP lawmakers factor in as they tip-toe around him and his exceedingly fragile ego. And if it prevents a Republican lawmaker from giving their constituents what they want, too bad.
Trump's new standard became apparent this week when he chose sides in a West Virginia House race that is now pitting two sitting GOP members against each other after redistricting merged their districts into one.
Rep. David McKinley voted for the infrastructure bill; Rep. Alex Mooney voted against it. Guess who Trump endorsed: Mooney, who traveled down to Mar-a-Lago last Friday in the wake of his "no" vote on the bipartisan measure, according to CNN.
McKinley told CNN that he gave the voters and local officials what they had been craving for years: new roads and bridges.
"They've wanted infrastructure," McKinley said.
Trump injecting himself into a West Virginia primary between two GOP incumbents is just a continuation of the war that has erupted within the Republican Party over the Biden infrastructure win that Trump wasn't skilled enough to pull off. Trump's personal insertion into the drama also guarantees the rift will never heal—just one more way for Trump to turn Republicans against each other as the party further disintegrates.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be having the time of his life.
"Seventy-five percent of the American people support infrastructure," McConnell said Tuesday. "From a Kentucky point of view, it was extremely good for our state. I'm proud of my vote."
Go ahead and yuck it up, McConnell. By the time Trump finishes with GOP voters, two-thirds of them will believe it was treasonous for any Republican to vote in favor of the infrastructure measure. In Trump's GOP, no one is allowed to have nice things unless he's the biggest beneficiary.