Don’t cheer yet

If, like me, you’re looking for the Republican wall of support for Donald’s many madnesses to begin collapsing, don’t cheer yet. Just start paying very close attention, because this first crack in the wall has caused some creaking noises.

What we need, of course, is for key conservative stalwarts, people like Trey Gowdy, to start criticizing the Trumpies openly. Well, guess what? This stainless steel defender finally got a little fed up with what he called the “the amnesia of people that are in the Trump orbit.”

“Here we are beginning another week, this one in July, with a new revelation about Russia,” Gowdy said. “Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say: From the time you saw ‘Doctor Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single one of those, and we are going to turn them over to the special counsel. Because this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.”

Notice he’s not criticizing what the campaign or White House staff did, he’s criticizing behavior that suggests cover-up. And remember it wasn’t the Watergate break-in that ruined Nixon, it was the cover-up. The good news is that Gowdy has finally expressed concern publicly about the “drip, drip, drip.”

Then the old-line conservative commentator, editor, speech writer and New York Post columnist John Podhoretz this morning unloaded:

“Donald Trump Jr.’s conduct defines the word ‘disgraceful.’ He may not have colluded in the disruption of an American election, but the evidence of the emails he released himself indicates he was only too willing and eager to do so.”

Podhoretz said of his fellow Republicans, “I’m sure there are people who will defend this, because there are people who will defend anything.”

Notice he’s not criticizing the president, only his out-of-control son. The good news is that he gave his Republican readers a license to stop being so crazily defensive. That’s a start.

And then there’s New York’s Murdoch-owned Post itself, which editorialized: “We see one truly solid takeaway from the story of the day: Donald Trump Jr. is an idiot.”

Also hinting at the appearance of cover-up, The Post continued: “Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. As were Junior’s shifting, incomplete accounts of the meeting under days of Times questioning.”

Repeating that there may have been no crime, The Post concluded, “Democrats and the media are frothing to find something criminal in it all, with the most unhinged talking treason. What it clearly was was criminally stupid.”

No law against stupidity and the Trumpies have a large inventory.

So what is making those creaking noises? Well, for one thing there’s the likelihood that Junior’s father knew what Junior was doing. We don’t yet have a direct link to the Donald. But it’s extremely unlikely that given the discussion in Trump Tower about how to hurt Hillary in those early June days no one said anything to Pops about the fact that a woman billed as a Kremlin emissary had been on the floor below to offer dirt on Hillary. Even if no dirt actually was received, as Junior now says, how common is it to have a Kremlin lawyer fly in from Moscow to offer dirt on Hillary? And no one mentioned it to Dad?

Oh, she’s not a Kremlin lawyer? Balderdash!

Hours after Junior set up the meeting with this Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, Trump actually made a tantalizing promise at one of his rallies that he soon would be “discussing all the things that have been happening with the Clintons.” He did not keep that promise, but the timing of his offer was pregnant.

Now Senator Chuck Grassley, a hard-nosed Iowa Republican who happens to chair the Judiciary Committee, has said he wants Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager, to come testify, probably next week. That is a creaking sound, too.

What has to happen before we cheer is for Republicans in key positions, people like Grassley, but more importantly the foot soldiers trying to advance the Trump agenda in Congress—the Ryans and the McConnells—to throw up their hands and say, “Enough. It’s impossible to go on with this president and all the distractions he’s caused. Time for him to leave.”

For without passage of a health-care bill and/or tax reform and/or some infrastructure legislation creating jobs, the Ryans and McConnells will be emperors without clothes.

Then we can cheer.

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