What in the world are Republicans waiting for? Why are they unable to say aloud the words that could save them from eternal political damnation?
Why are so many leading Republicans willing to condemn the nazi terror of Charlottesville but not Donald Trump for excusing and enabling—and yes, even encouraging—it?
They must name him.
Trump’s train has left the station without him; he can no longer redeem himself for what he has done. And very soon theirs will leave without them if they do not speak up and condemn the president by name for his despicable comments.
Charlie Sykes, the conservative radio host, knows why they don’t. They “made the decision that their ideological agenda was more important than holding Donald Trump accountable.”
There won’t be any agenda as long as the shadow of nazism lies over the Capitol. Until all Republicans hold him accountable, their party is on death’s door. We already heard the death rattle in “Repeal and Replace.” Today is Day Three since Trump’s miserable press conference, tomorrow will be Day Four, and another nazi demonstration is planned this weekend in Boston. Do Republicans want to be known as the party that enabled American nazism?
Some of these politicians locked in tight re-election races fear getting tweeted by His Tweetership. I have news for them. This problem has gone far beyond politics. Now it is about morality. Do they want to run as immoral?
Politicians who temporize over morality are doomed to eternal remembrance as the ones who stood by and smiled as nazis celebrated, as Donald Trump equated the woman killed in Charlottesville with her nazi killers.
Can you still see Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Economic Advisor Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin standing beside Trump—Chau smiling beatifically—as Trump committed his Tuesday outrage? That image will go down in history: a woman of Chinese descent and two Jews lending a backdrop as Trump excused and encouraged white nationalist violence.
The novelist Michael Chabon yesterday, in a message to fellow Jews, wrote this:
“Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this: Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.”
I would only substitute “any person” for “any Jew.” For that shadow of nazism will lie equally upon us all, but especially upon its victims, the African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, as well as Jews, all the people in America that white nationalists target as their enemies.
A growing number of Republicans have shown the courage to do what’s required, most notably Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, an early supporter of Trump who yesterday explicitly questioned Trump’s stability and competence.
Others include Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake (who is in danger of losing re-election in Arizona), Cory Gardner, Jerry Moran, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Representatives Ed Royce, Leonard Lance, and Will Hurd.
Unfortunately the Republican leadership can’t find the courage to name Donald Trump–or “the president”–as the man they’re talking about when they denounce racism, white nationalism, and anti-Semitism.
Foremost among these are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen—who issued a blistering statement but did not name Trump—and the Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Vice President Mike Pence took the most cowardly position of all by supporting Trump’s Tuesday statement. No surprise there.
So, what can Trump and these Republicans do to save their party?
There is nothing more Trump can do.
Jeb Bush said Trump must act to unite the country, a foolish statement. If it wasn’t clear before, it is now that Trump is incapable of uniting the country since he cannot focus on anything but himself.
Rep. Will Hurd suggested that he could apologize. Trump has never apologized for anything and is not likely to apologize for this, especially since it appears to represent the real Donald Trump. Even if he did offer an apology I can’t imagine any adult naive enough to accept it.
What Trump can do he will do. He will continue to blurt out emotional reactions to perceived slights and offenses and continue to demonstrate his incapacity for useful service in the presidency and keep contributing to his self-isolation.
To save their party Republicans can and must separate themselves and their party from him. They are responsible for Donald Trump, for his ascent to the presidency. Their only hope now is to repudiate him by name in large enough numbers that this isolation of his own creation becomes complete.
Impeachment is not likely given the mathematics in both houses of Congress. But even if it became possible, it would be a bad idea given the angry and armed mass of Trump believers who have demonstrated their willingness to cause violence.
He may declare victory and resign. I consider that a realistic possibility for him because he is thoroughly capable of casting his failures as successes, believing such lies himself, and selling them to his admirers. Otherwise Republicans must find a candidate to beat him in 2020 and try to prevent the damage he could cause until then.